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Our investigation of fraud, deception, and animal welfare abuses at Alexandre Family Farm (Alexandre) revealed that Alexandre’s national reputation for high animal welfare is largely a mirage. It is highly likely that milk sold across the country—including in products like toddler formula and ice cream—came from abused, neglected, and mistreated cows who were allowed to linger in their suffering. Maddeningly, many of these products were sold under humane labels that ideally should signify something meaningful for animals.

This is a clear case of humanewashing: when marketing and certifications create an image of exceptional animal treatment meant to assuage consumers, despite the reality being far more grim.

It’s no secret that “ethical” dairies like Alexandre are used to market the entire industry to consumers, giving a halo of respectability and credibility to the very factory farm corporations that make cruelty and abuse endemic. But the corruption at Alexandre has spread further, as its lies rippled not only through the organic, higher welfare dairy market but beyond.

Alexandre’s “ethical dairy” status has been used to lend a veneer of respectability to natural food retailers like Whole Foods Market, food companies like Alec’s Ice Cream and Cheddies Crackers, and even baby and children’s food companies like Serenity Kids and Once Upon a Farm. All of these companies actively use Alexandre’s halo of respectability to entice conscientious consumers to buy their own products. Alexandre’s humanewashing stains a swath of companies and products that perpetuate Alexandre’s deceptive claims.

Whole Foods Market named Alexandre a “Supplier of the Year” in 2021, and markets its partnership with Alexandre as “Restarting Dairy”—likely an effort to leverage Alexandre’s reputation to improve the public image of dairy, which has been declining over the years. Whole Foods proudly showcases a video with Alexandre co-owner Blake Alexandre, who notes that seeing Alexandre’s products on Whole Foods shelves “gives us a tremendous sense of pride and it also highlights the fact that we’re making a difference. It’s a small difference, but what we’re doing here on the farm is contributing in a positive way to the betterment of our society and humanity.”1

Jarringly, that same flashy video can’t conceal some of Alexandre’s inhumane practices. The video inadvertently documents cows with extremely low body condition scores (suggesting disease and/or malnutrition), as well as hundreds of plastic calf hutches (widely seen as inhumane)2345 where Alexandre isolates calves from their mothers, other cows, and other calves. Alexandre’s hutches do not even include the standard patch of ground in front that would allow calves to go outside; a veterinary expert who reviewed our report noted that hutches were never meant to be used as cages, and “calves not able to step outside their hutches is a horrific perversion of use.” Even Whole Foods Market’s rosy portrayal of Alexandre unintentionally reveals systemic and unnecessary suffering.

Update! Following the release of our report, Whole Foods Market appears to have taken down its Restarting Dairy page that referred to the Alexandres as “environmental stewards,” proudly noted that “Whole Foods Market has been working with the Alexandres for over a decade.”

In addition to supplying cows’ milk to Whole Foods, Alexandre sells it to food manufacturers, including baby food and kids’ snack companies and leading organic cheese, cracker, and ice cream companies. Alexandre promotes a partnership with Serenity Kids, which sells baby food and “toddler formula” (and according to the Serenity Kids website its toddler formula “meets FDA nutritional requirements for infant formula”).6 Serenity Kids notes that its formula’s milk ingredients come from Alexandre, “which is known for its quality, ethical practices.” Serenity’s President and Co-Founder Joe Carr glowingly recounts in a video featured on Serenity’s YouTube,

At Serenity Kids we support American family farmers that treat their animals ethically … We are just super excited to have now created a product that proves that you can make formula … created in a way that’s great for the planet and great for the animals. -Joe Carr, President and Co-Founder, Serenity Kids7

Once Upon a Farm was co-founded by actor Jennifer Garner. A recipient of the Clean Label Project’s “Purity Award,” until recently Once Upon a Farm produced only completely plant-based foods for infants, toddlers, and children. In January 2024 it announced that it will incorporate Alexandre’s products into some of its foods marketed to kids 12 months and older,8 noting (correctly) that Alexandre is “the leading regenerative organic certified dairy farm in the U.S.” Once Upon a Farm products are sold at Whole Foods, Target and Costco.

Alexandre also supplies to Rumiano Cheese, which claims “a deep commitment to … animal welfare9 and sells Organic cheese to thousands of grocery stores nationwide, including grocery giants like Safeway, Vons, Whole Foods, and Costco. Rumiano boasts that their cheese “benefits the animals and consumers by helping produce healthy and humane dairy products.”10 Rumiano Cheese buys milk from milk suppliers like Organic West that process milk from  Alexandre and resell it to a wide variety of outlets.

It doesn’t end there, but continues with prominent relationships with food companies like Alec’s Ice Cream, which markets “the first-ever regenerative organic ice cream—one that’s improving our world through the way it’s created” and that “improves the lives of animals.11

Update! Following the release of our report, Alec’s Ice Cream appears to have taken down and removed from its site navigation its Our Impact page, which claimed that regenerative farming “improves the lives of animals,” that its products are “positively changing our planet for a better future,” and that Alexandre is “proving that cows actually help reverse climate change.”

Cheddies Crackers, which differentiates its products in large part by marketing them as Certified Humane and Regenerative Organic Certified. In addition to stating “Happy cows make the best milk,” Cheddies notes on its homepage,

Our cheese comes from regenerative farms, like the Alexandre Family Farm in California. These farms are like VIP clubs for cows – they get the royal treatment. -Cheddies Crackers website

All of these suppliers use Alexandre’s certifications and marketing to differentiate their products, trying to convince a public that is increasingly skeptical of cows’ dairy products because of their health, animal welfare, and environmental impacts that it’s acceptable—even beneficial—to eat their products. In the marketing language of one of Alexandre’s buyers, “Every time you enjoy Alec’s ice cream, you’re making a positive impact.”12

In other words, Alexandre’s deception is propagated in the market by the companies that use Alexandre’s products and reputation to hide the ubiquity of the ethically repugnant practices that are virtually unavoidable in dairy, given the present structure of the industry.13


Taking Action

Below is a list of companies that sell Alexandre products or source them for ingredients. Farm Forward asks these companies to cut ties with Alexandre and if possible reformulate to take cows’ milk out of their products. We will update you on how each company responds to our request.

  • Whole Foods Market
  • Once Upon a Farm
  • Serenity Kids
  • Alec’s Ice Cream
  • Cheddies Crackers
  • Rumiano Cheese
  • United Natural Foods (UNFI)



Blake Alexandre, in “Restarting Dairy with Alexandre Family Farm,” Whole Foods Market video, 8:05–8:36, available here and here.


Jennifer Van Os, “Introduction: Why all the fuss about pair housing?” Two Heads are Better Than One: A Starter Guide to Pairing Dairy Calves, University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension, Nov 6, 2020, accessed Jan 6, 2024, available here.


Tim Carman, “Suit against Organic Valley calls separating cows from calves inhumane,” Washington Post, Jul 19, 2022, accessed Jan 6, 2024, available here.


“Baby calves must not be isolated in pens, confirms EU scientific body,” Compassion in World Farming, Mar 29, 2023, Accessed Jan 6, 2024, available here.


Chas NewKey-Burden, “Dairy is scary. The public are waking up to the darkest part of farming.” The Guardian, Mar 30, 2017, accessed Jan 6, 2024, available here.


“Why Toddler Formula?”, Serenity Kids, accessed Jan 27, 2024, available here. Serenity Kids notes that its “Toddler Formula … has not yet gone through the FDA evaluation process that is required for infant formula,” and “We are not allowed to recommend this product for infants.”


Joe Carr in “Serenity Kids & Alexandre Farm,” 0:04–0:10, 1:48–2:01, Mar 10, 2022, accessed Jan 6, 2024, available here and here.


“These are … suitable for 12+ months.” Two (2) Once Upon a Farm comments on Once Upon a Farm’s Instagram post, Jan 9, 2024, accessed Jan 9, 2024, available here.


“About Us: The History of Rumiano Cheese: 2005: Organic and Sustainability Pioneers,” Rumiano Cheese, accessed Jan 6, 2024, available here.


“How It’s Made,” Rumiano Cheese, accessed Jan 27, 2024, available here.


Alec Jaffe, “Our Story: Hi, I’m Alec,” Alec’s Ice Cream, accessed Jan 6, 2024, available here, and “Our Impact,” Alec’s Ice Cream, accessed Jan 30, 2024, available here.


Alec’s Ice Cream website homepage Jan 6, 2024, accessed Jan 6, 2024, available here.


For more on how dairy’s structure makes ethically repugnant practices virtually unavoidable, see the appendix “Structural Suffering” of the investigative report “Dairy Deception: Corruption and Consumer Fraud at Alexandre Family Farm,” available here.