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Clover Stornetta Dairy

Where Clo is the Show

Clo and Geneby Jim Kelly

Left: Clo and Gene Benedetti
Photo courtesy of Clover Stornetta Dairy

As a recent transplant to Sonoma County from Vermont, I regretted the loss of one thing.

Not that there were not more than a few things not to regret, like the cold, the bugs, the humidity and the lack of an ocean nearby.

Oh, did I mention the Mud Season? But therein lies another tale.

The one thing I really regretted leaving behind was Monument Farms' milk, sold only in Addison County.

Nothing I had ever tasted was even close to the nectar known as Monument Farms' milk.

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An equal wasn't found in Costa Rica, Ireland, Puerto Rico or Southern California. (Milk, itself, wasn't found in Vietnam where I spent a very long year once.)

So, with a heavy heart, we discovered a lovely spot in the hills overlooking Sebastopol and began our new life. Of course, I had to have my milk, even if it was going to be a poor substitute.

A New Beginning with Clo

On the first day in our new place, I popped into Andy's, a rustic little market on Bodega Highway, and picked up some one-percent milk. If it was going to taste bad, anyway, why not go the more healthy route?

After arriving back at the house, I poured myself a frothy glass of cold milk. "This tastes like whole milk," I said to my despondent wife. (She was left a bit grumpy by the 18 days of motel living.)

"Indeed it does," she agreed after taking a sip of my new treasure. "It tastes like Monument Farms."

As always, she was right. "Indeed it does!" I echoed cheerfully. "And, it may even taste better!"

Thus began my journey through the discovery of the rest of Clover Stornetta Farm's clo-nucopia of products.

I tried the whole milk, the half-and-half, the heavy cream, the rich, aerosol whipped cream creamy butter, the sour cream, the yogurt, the eggs and, finally, the ice cream. Oh my, the ice cream. I thought, move aside, Ben and Jerry's, I can now buy Clover Stornetta ice cream.

Then I got into fusion with Clover Products. I put Clover sharp cheddar on whole wheat and grilled it in Clover butter. This was supplemented with a chilled glass of Clover milk.

Early on, I even tried Clo's Vanilla Bean ice cream with Clo's heavy cream poured over it. I don't remember much after that one.

How does Clo do it?

The reporter in me had to find out how they did it. I poured over Clo's website (after pouring myself yet another glass of Clo's milk) and read her story. It was intriguing but I was hungry for more so I sent the dairy an email begging for an interview.

Initially, I wanted to interview Clo but it seems she only speaks in puns so I requested some time with the marketing department.

Clo's Director of Marketing, Joanie Benedetti Claussen, was on extended holiday so she could bond with her new daughter, Evelyn Rose, but she kindly made herself available for a phone interview. I didn't want to bother her but, my God, the milk.

"Why does it taste so good and fresh," I asked on the appointed hour. It was all I had to say.

I heard the story of her grandfather, Gene Benedetti, who, as a naval officer, lived through the Invasion of Normandy and, thereafter returned to Petaluma to start his legacy of fair dealing and responsible farming.

Clo's History

Benedetti began dairy farming in the late 1960's and established a reputation for humane treatment of his cows and a respect for the land. This was long before Green was cool.

Through some twists and turns of fate, Benedetti was able to purchase Clover Milk in 1975 and his tribe increased. He retooled the flagging clo-op to showcase only the finest dairy farms in Sonoma and Marin Counties and worked with these farms to become sustainable and produce only the best and freshest milk.

Because dairy farmers in California sell their milk at a price set by the State, Benedetti paid his contributing farmers a premium bonus for their milk. This was additional incentive to get only the best dairy farms on board.

Sold in Northern California independent markets and some of the larger markets (like Lucky), Clover Stornetta Dairy products can also be found in Whole Foods and Mother's Market. All stores are within the circle of friendship Clo has drawn to ensure her products are always fresh.

Andy's Market in Sebastopol (the largest open-air fresh farm produce market in Northern California) even promotes Clo with monthly specials.

In November 2000, Clover Stornetta Farms became the first and only dairy in the U.S. to be certified by the American Humane Association (AHA) for their animal welfare program, American Humane Certified.

Clo's family continues to work with the AHA to ensure the good treatment of the animals at dairies who sell to them and the Clover Stornetta Dairy pasteurizes, but does not ultra-pasteurize their milk (exactly like Monument Farms does not).

Ultra-pasteurizing of milk extends the shelf life and mega-milk producers love this because they can sell more milk by trucking it further afield. Unfortunately, ultra-pasteurizing makes milk taste watery and flat.

According to Marye Audet of HubPages, "...over the past 30 years, most of the American public has forgotten what real milk tastes like, just as they have forgotten what a real apple tastes like."

The truth was out. Clover Stornetta Dairy has a limited reach for their products because they want them to be fresh and to taste good.

The Legacy of Gene Benedetti

Today Clover Stornetta Dairy works with 6 organic dairies and 10 conventional ones in Sonoma and Marin Counties who treat their cows well and do not inject rBST (artificial growth hormones) into them.

Also today (or more appropriately, tonight) millions of children and adults will go to sleep comforted by Gene Benedetti's brilliance and forethought.

I'm pretty sure Evelyn Rose does.

American Humane Association

HAACP

Kosher Certification

NCEC

QCS 

QCS

Seal of Sustainability

Seal of Sustainability

 

Fans of Clover

Hannah Rose Miller, Sebastopol Artist

Oliver's Markets

Andy's Produce Market

Fircrest Market