I'm in a bit of a blogging slump these past couple of days. Therefore I am going to take this opportunity to do a little research. Research topic numero uno: Organic Milk. Simon and I have bought and drank organic milk for years, I've always known it was the best purchase mainly for the fact that my own personal natural food guru Mark Trealout (Laura's Man), only bought it (They now drink non pasteurized from an amish farmer in the community but that's just a little too hardcore for me, plus cows and amish are slim pickins 'round here). Therefore I felt confident that I was making the right decision. But as I get older, I've started to realize that I should be just a little more informed on these topics and saying "well Mark says..." doesn't really hold up that well in an intense agriculture debate.
*Note: I did not take this picture, it is stunning and I wish I had. Follow this LINK to the article where I got a lot of my juicy, er, milky facts as well as the stunning pic.
For starters, organic cows are fed on grain and pasture that contains zero pesticides or fertilizers. There is also no bovine growth hormone (used to produce more milk) allowed. BGH was banned in Canada, Europe and Japan but is still used in the United States. Cows are not treated with antibiotics unless they are very sick, if so, they are treated and will not be returned to the herd for a year making sure the antibiotics are out of their system. Organic milkers also have access to pasture*, meaning they can graze on grasses etc.
I * the word pasture above because the term seems very flexible in the farming world. For some farmers pasture means wandering the country side and basking in the sun for hours on end while for others it means opening up the factory doors for 10 minutes of sunshine. Follow this LINK to check out a report card of 'organic' farms and how they measure up. The report only looks at american farms but the results speak pretty loudly. Basically, be wary of organic milk/milk products that are owned by corporations (PC organics, organic products from Walmart, Shoppers Drugmart). It is easy to term yourself organic while still following an industrial farming model.
We buy Organic Meadows milk because they farm in a way that suits our needs. They are a collective of over 100 organic family farms that follow a similar growing model. We also buy Harmony Organic milk because it's what our local health food store carries. They follow a similar model as Organic Meadow by connecting certified organic milk producers that follow environmentally sustainable farming practices. Plus they put their product in glass bottles, which is like, super retro and you can't help but feel like the milk man just dropped it off fresh from the dairy and you're a 1940's housewife with curlers, pearls and an apron on, which works if you're in to that sort of thing.
Organic milk is more expensive because it requires more of a financial and time investment to feed and pasture as opposed to factory milkers which remain indoors and are fed cheaper grains, primarily corn and soy.
Also, some organic farmers are doing there part to preserve the earth by using environmentally sustainable farming practices which include using organic herbicides, not using genetically engineered grains or any form of animal by-product to feed cattle.
Another quick note: Studies have shown that organic pasture raised milk has higher levels of beneficial nutrients than conventionally produced milk.
Antibiotics are used when a cow gets sick. A fear for humans is that we can become resistant to the antibiotics that they cows are being injected with and therefore we can become more susceptible to bacteria and diseases. Organic cows are not treated with antibiotics unless they are very sick, if so, they are treated and are not returned to the herd for a year making sure the antibiotics are out of their system.
Organic milk is a decision you gotta make for yourself but before you make a trip to the grocery store and pick up whatever is cheapest it may be worthwhile to do a little research on your own and ask yourself a couple of q's:
Did the cow who made my milk suffer?
Did the farmer who produced my milk make any money off this carton?
Will I get sick from this milk?
How does my purchases affect the planet?
Short clip of a documentary that was done on hormones produced by Monsanto, an agriculture company.
Like your mom used to say, drink your milk, every last drop.