Organic milk vs. Conventional milk

I’m all for buying organic, local and free-from for the majority of my produce & meat whenever possible (see Organic Apple a Day posting). But what about organic milk? It’s almost triple the price of conventional milk. Whereas you can find organic produce & meat for a reasonable price if you shop around, and are willing to skip some of your regular weekly purchases if it’s not available.

If you purchase organic milk, what are your reasons?

You may buy organic milk because you think:

a. it’s not pasteurized,
b. it doesn’t contain any Bovine Growth Hormone or BGH (makes cows produce milk),
c. it’s antibiotic free
d. it has more vitamins & minerals and
e. it’s grain & grass is pesticide free

I did some research over the weekend comparing organic vs. conventional milk in Canada, and here’s what I found…

a. First of all, in Canada, all milk (organic and conventional) that is intended for consumption must be pasteurized “legally requiring it to be heated to at least 72 degrees Celsius for at least 16 seconds and then cooling it to 4 degrees Celsius. This ensures that any harmful bacteria are destroyed” and gives milk a shelf-life of 2-3 weeks. Ok, so both organic & conventional score the same on that one.

b. You may buy organic milk because the thought of drinking milk pumped with hormones is pretty gross (this is why we don’t buy the huge pterodactyl size chicken breasts that are always on sale anymore). However, in Canada (& Europe), the use of Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH) is illegal. In fact, on Natrel’s website they make this claim: “the Bovine Growth Hormone is illegal in Canada because its use is thought to be harmful to cows and considered unethical. Absolutely none of our milk comes from cows treated with this hormone.”

c. You may buy organic milk because you want to ensure that it’s antibiotic-free. However, cows that produce organic & conventional milk are both treated with antibiotics when they get sick. Once they get better, organic cows are put back into the milking rotation after a minimum of 12 months or sometimes never, and conventional cows’ milk is tested, and they get put back into the rotation when the tests come back antibiotic free.

d. You may buy organic milk because you think it’s more nutritious. According to Daniela Fierini, a registered dietitian with the hematology-oncology program at Princess Margaret Hospital at University Health Network in Toronto, “Nutrient-wise, organic and regular cow’s milk are the same. Both are great sources of protein; equally provide significant amounts of calcium, magnesium, riboflavin, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin D and zinc; both are available in reduced-fat varieties and neither contain preservatives.”

e. Here’s the difference you’ve been waiting for – cows that produce organic milk are only fed pesticide free grain & grass. However, according to Fierini, many conventional dairy farmers use good quality feed, and low levels of pesticides are used. I would really like to believe that. Especially for our local Canadian farmers like Natrel for example, who only distribute in Ontario, Quebec & B.C.

Personally, I don’t drink dairy milk on a regular basis because I don’t like the thought of drinking another animal’s milk. I drink unsweetened almond milk. That being said, many people drink milk, and I think it’s important to make conscious & informed decisions when it comes to buying food – organic or not.

Did this information change your opinion of organic milk? Do you trust our local farmers to use good quality grain & grass? What kind of milk do you buy and why?

 

 

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasteurization
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14458802/ns/health-diet_and_nutrition/
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/article970193.ece
http://www.natrel.ca/english/index.html

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69 Responses to Organic milk vs. Conventional milk

  1. Cynthia Follett April 13, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    hi Lauren. I enjoyed your depth in researching the organic milk issue. sometimes the price does not necessarily justify the end result. I do believe in moderation (previous issue). Many thanks for sharing this information. Cynthia

  2. Brooke May 20, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    I was really stressing about not buying organic milk and this really helped me feel a bit better that I haven’t been. Thanks so much for this information!

    Please post more on the topic if you ever find out more!

  3. Brooke May 20, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    Oh – I buy non-organic milk …. skim milk and in bags… Its because the organic milk was way too expensive!

  4. Tavia November 13, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    I’ve only recently started buying organic, but the price makes it hard, I’m very glad to know that the growth hormone is illegal here in Canada. I still though would like to know if the cows my milk comes from have adequate amounts of grazing time. Shame on the USA for not also banning the growth hormone, they’re greed is going to get them in the end.

    • Lauren November 14, 2011 at 8:15 am #

      Thanks for the comment! I agree – it’s difficult to know what is in the cows’ feed when you buy non-organic milk; however, the standards for non-organic milk in Canada are good, so if you can’t afford organic; it’s still a good option.

    • Kathryn K. May 13, 2016 at 7:06 am #

      Growth hormone is legal in Canada to be given to cows that are used for beef.

    • L December 28, 2016 at 5:19 am #

      I agree about your comment about cattle having grazing time. Just for that reason (and I like knowing I don’t have to worry about pesticides) I just switched my family to organic. We can’t forget about what these animals are giving us and we must be kind to them.

  5. Rhonda April 17, 2012 at 7:31 am #

    Hi Lauren,
    Have you ever done any research on lactaid milk? Any thoughts on that as a better alternative? I have been a huge milk fan my whole life but lately thinking about how milk comes about to us has been getting to me so if you have any thoughts or comments on Lactaid milk I would appriciate it!

    • Lauren April 17, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

      Hi Rhonda,
      Thanks for your question. Lactaid milk is still dairy milk, but with an enzyme called lactase added to it to help those who suffer from lactose intolerance better digest dairy (without symptoms). If you’re not lactose intolerant I don’t think it would be necessary for you to make the switch. And you can still put lactaid milk in ‘dairy or cow’s milk’ category, so you’re still faced with the same decision: conventional or organic. The bottom line: if you want to know 100% that your milk is free-from chemicals, antibiotics, hormones etc. than I would recommend you make the switch to organic. Hope that helps!

  6. Padma July 1, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

    Hi,
    I live in Saskatchewan and i buy Non-organic milk from local stores like Walmart, Extra foods, Superstore. Are those milk exported from US? Will those contain BGH? Secondly, if you could name few brands that are really good or some stores that sell best milk, that would be of good help.
    Thanks

    • Lauren July 3, 2012 at 6:46 am #

      Thank you for your question! When you look at the milk carton it will usually say if it’s a US or Canadian company. Because the use of BGH is not regulated in the US – you can’t be sure when you buy a US dairy product.One Canadian company that I would recommend is Natrel for non-organic milk. Or you can avoid dairy milk all together and try unsweetened almond milk (that’s what I drink!). You can also get calcium from many other food sources – vegetables, legumes, nuts & seeds.

      • Christa July 11, 2017 at 6:31 pm #

        Buy I read that almond milk doesn’t have as much calcium, and if it has more than it was added which is not that good for the uptake. I forgot but there is something else cow milk has that is essential for the blood or veins
        Do you know about that?

        • Lauren October 31, 2017 at 5:43 pm #

          Hi Christa,
          I’m not sure! Let me know if you find more info on that! I now give my kids a bit of organic homo cow’s milk everyday (to avoid developing allergies to it). I like that there’s only one ingredient, opposed to almond milk or other nut milks where there can be added vitamins.

  7. Justine Nicholls August 3, 2012 at 9:18 am #

    The only thing I am having trouble finding out about is the treatment of the cows. It seems that the difference between non-organic milk and organic milk is minimal, but what about how the cows are treated. Do they spend time outside grazing or are they confined all the time? Any body have any insight on this or resources?

    • Lauren August 4, 2012 at 5:05 am #

      Good question. I read a book for my course called “The End of Food” by Thomas Pawlick, which is a great resource. After reading that book I got the impression that grass-fed & organic raised animals are treated humanely. It’s also a great book about the processed involved in organic farming (of produce), and looks at how big farms & food companies operate in comparison. I would highly recommend it!

  8. Gabby August 16, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

    Hi Lauren,
    Thanks for your subject about organic and non organic milk,you are not alone to think about switching. There so many reasons why you should keep drinking only organic milk:
    1. The first difference is the taste,organic milk has a natural taste of the milk(you can test it with two different glasses one with organic and non organic,which means that non organic milk lacks natural elements. Hormones and antibiotics are detected in non organic milk and it’s not reasonable to believe that there is no risk associated to the consumption of non organic milk.
    2. The non organic milk comes from non organic foods and sometimes GMO(Genetically Modified Organisms) are used produce the grass and grains.
    3. The quality may not be the same,non organic milk is produced in a big quantity by feeding cows ultra rich foods so the DRA(Daily Recommended Amount) may be higher than it should.
    If organic milk costs more,with non organic milk you will pay more in Gym or in hospital.

    There are so many things we should do to protect ourselves by eating organic,not only milk,we should avoid all unhealthy foods! we are what we eat!

    • Lauren August 17, 2012 at 6:34 am #

      Thanks for sharing – you make some great points! And I totally agree about the statement “you are what you eat!”

  9. JTL October 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

    http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/vet/faq/growth_hormones_promoters_croissance_hormonaux_stimulateurs-eng.php

    Umm…according to Health Canada, the bovine growth hormone is approved for use in Canada and the USA for beef cattle. It’s illegal in Europe. Where did you get info that growth hormones are not allowed in dairy cows? I find it odd that Health Canada would saw growth hormone is allowed in Canada for beef yet you say growth hormones are banned in dairy cows…

    • Lauren October 27, 2012 at 7:25 am #

      Thank you for your question. You are right, hormonal growth promoters are approved for use in conventional beef cattle in Canada, which is why I always buy organic beef, which is free-from hormones. However, this article from Health Canada states that: “Recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) is a synthetic version of the naturally occurring growth hormone somatotropin. It is approved for use in the US to increase the production of milk in dairy cattle. However, it is not approved for sale in Canada.” And I agree with you – it is odd that hormones are used on conventional beef cattle, but not dairy cattle. Hopefully more people will buy & advocate for organic beef, which will create a larger market for organic beef, and drive prices down! One can only hope 🙂

      • Donna February 20, 2013 at 6:39 pm #

        Hi there, all great information! I grew up in rural Saskatchewan on a beef/dairy farm. My mother milked the cows every morning and all 4 of us kids had copious amounts of raw milk that was probably higher in milk fat than today’s whole milk. An observation about my health and that of my 3 brothers that I have made is that we all have extremely low cholesterol and I have good bone density. My mother, who never drank any of that milk that she laboured so hard for every morning in freezing temps has high cholesterol, and osteoporosis. She catches every cold and flu virus that comes around, where as we are all generally very healthy……no allergies, no food intolerances (and none of us were breastfed). There is no hard scientific evidence here but other than the milk (and the wine I like), we all had the same diet and the same genetics. We ground our own wheat for flour, grew our own vegetable garden and ate our own beef, chicken and pork. My father didn’t do anything extraordinary in his farm practices but he never gives his animals any kind of growth hormones and he certainly doesn’t spray poisons on the grass/hay that his animals eat…..this is also true for all the neighbouring farmers. Growth hormones are usually given to animals at the feedlots to make the steers grow faster to get them to market faster. I guess what I am trying to say here is to get to know your local producers. Buy locally and it doesn’t always mean buy organic. I buy organic when the cost is not prohibitive and when I don’t know the practices of the producers (when I buy U.S. or further beyond). And by the way, I never buy organic milk but I would buy raw if it wasn’t illegal or extremely hard to get.

        • Lauren February 21, 2013 at 7:59 am #

          Hi Donna,
          That’s really interesting! Raw cows milk that hasn’t been pasteurized is definitely the way to go; pasteurization kills all the good vitamins & minerals! The problem is that raw cows milk isn’t possible for mass distribution, which means large dairy/food companies won’t support it. And I totally agree with you about getting to know your local producers. I would much rather buy my produce/dairy/meat from a local farmer that I know & trust (and that I know doesn’t use hormones/antibiotics/chemicals) instead of buying organic. I usually buy most of my organic food during the winter months when local food isn’t as readily available in Ontario. Thank you for your comment – more people have to start thinking like you, and support their local farmers!

          • Debbie February 5, 2017 at 4:09 am #

            Pasteurization doesn’t “kill” all the vitamins and minerals. They aren’t alive, so you can’t kill them. There are no significant differences in nutritional value between pasteurized and unpasteurized milk. There are good reasons to select organic, but it is not the vitimins or minerals.

          • Lauren February 12, 2017 at 2:19 am #

            Hi Debbie, thank you for your comment. Perhaps saying kill “all the vitamins and minerals” was too vague, but to be more specific, pasteurization does affect the quality of certain vitamins and minerals in milk such as vitamin C, calcium and iodine: “Besides destroying part of the vitamin C contained in raw milk and encouraging growth of harmful bacteria, pasteurization turns the sugar of milk, known as lactose, into beta-lactose, which is far more soluble and therefore more rapidly absorbed in the system, with the result that the child soon becomes hungry again.

            Probably pasteurization’s worst offence is that it makes insoluble the major part of the calcium contained in raw milk…Pasteurization also destroys 20 percent of the iodine present in raw milk, causes constipation and generally takes from the milk its most vital qualities.”
            Source: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2003/03/26/pasteurized-milk-part-one.aspx

            I also love this article about drinking cow’s milk in general: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-milk

            Thanks again for the comment!

  10. kayla January 7, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    You mention the statement that natrel has on their website about rbgh and while they are a canadian company and rbgh is `illegal` here some of the milk for their products is actually manufactured and produced in michegan. They even go on to say they have no plans to bring production to canada. I’m not sure how many products but at least their natrel baboo is which is meant for children :/ I myself drink almond milk aswell but with my daughter being young and not taking so well to the new drink when I switched I continued giving her this instead. I was very displeased to find out that the milk she has been drinking is coming from the US

    • Lauren January 9, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

      Hi Kayla,
      Thanks for the info on that! It’s very frustrating when the products that you thought were safe & healthy turn out not to be. There are other Canadian dairy companies out there that you can research: Liberte, Sealtest, Parmalat…I’m pretty sure most of their products that are distributed in Canada are manufactured in Canada, but as you’ve shown it’s best to double-check!

  11. Lee March 6, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    I only buy organic Meadow milk. When I contacted them few years ago, they said their cows are left to gaze and only fed grass. During winter season, the cows are fed hay from their own farm.

    http://www.organicmeadowcoop.com/index.php?page=dairy-pool

    • Lauren March 6, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

      Hi Lee,
      That sounds great – thanks for sharing the link!

  12. Gabby June 6, 2013 at 8:10 am #

    I almost always buy organic foods and milk of course but when I compare it with non organic milk, the label shows that the content is almost the same,and I don’t understand why they add Vitamine D into organic milk,it makes me think that organic foods is not always natural!, am I right or not?

    • Lauren June 8, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

      Hi Gabby – the main different between organic & conventional milk is that organic milk has no antibiotics or growth hormones, and the cows don’t consume any pesticides/chemicals in the grain & grass that they eat. That being said, all Canadian dairy companies (even conventional) don’t allow the use of Bovine Growth Hormone. So you could switch between organic & conventional milk depending on your budget (organic milk is more pricey). Sometimes foods have added vitamins just to make it sound more healthy, but dairy is already a good source of vitamin D!

      • AmyJo January 4, 2014 at 8:41 pm #

        Hi Lauren,
        Organic Canadian standards also require promoting health and care of animals that support their behavioural and health needs. This is indeed important and is why my wife and I spend $40 a week on organic milk for our 2 young boys. See http://www.dairyinfo.gc.ca/pdf/organic_profile_eng.pdf or http://www.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca/ongc-cgsb/programme-program/normes-standards/internet/bio-org/principes-principles-eng.html#a011. See:
        II. General Principles of Organic Production

        Organic production is based on principles that support healthy practices. These principles aim to increase the quality and the durability of the environment through specific management and production methods. They also focus on ensuring the humane treatment of animals.

        The general principles of organic production include the following:

        -Protect the environment, minimize soil degradation and erosion, decrease pollution, optimize biological productivity and promote a sound state of health.
        -Maintain long-term soil fertility by optimizing conditions for biological activity within the soil.
        -Maintain biological diversity within the system.
        -Recycle materials and resources to the greatest extent possible within the enterprise.
        -Provide attentive care that promotes the health and meets the behavioural needs of livestock.
        -Prepare organic products, emphasizing careful processing, and handling methods in order to maintain the organic integrity and vital qualities of the products at all stages of production.
        -Rely on renewable resources in locally organized agricultural systems.

        Amy

        • Lauren January 5, 2014 at 7:20 am #

          Hi Amy, that’s great information. Often times the other benefits of eating organic are overlooked – thanks for sharing!

  13. Fi June 7, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    I have always loved milk but when stomach issues started I had to switch to Lactose-free milk. Imagine my surprise when I drank full fat milk from a local dairy that I had not problem with my stomach at all. It appears that we need the fat to properly digest the milk. I have also lost weight since going on a higher fat diet. Threw out the oils I have been eating for years and now eat Virgin Coconut Oil and full fat organic butter and drink full fat organic milk. I believe Vitamin D is added by a Government law here in Canada – don’t know about the States.

    Fi

    • Lauren June 9, 2013 at 7:36 am #

      That’s great to hear! It’s amazing how our bodies actually crave full-fat, non-processed, natural foods! Consuming healthy, natural fats in moderation is part of living a healthy lifestyle!

  14. Cin July 9, 2013 at 6:39 pm #

    Thank you for posting! We drink a lot of milk and we were thinking of switching to organic. Now that I have read this article, I feel good about sticking with our regular milk which will save us a lot of money!

    • Lauren July 10, 2013 at 5:39 am #

      You’re welcome! Glad you found it helpful. Just remember – if you’re buying conventional dairy products just make sure you stick with Canadian companies like Natrel or Liberte.

  15. Jennifer August 15, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    Hi Lauren,

    Thanks for your research! This is really helpful to me as I just moved to Toronto from Washington, DC and found milk prices (along with eggs and chicken) here to be shockingly high! I am used to paying a bit more for organic milk, but now that I know the regulations here make milk safer to drink I feel better about switching to conventional. I was wondering if you had any other posts about food regulations in Canada that would make it safer to consume conventional produce or meats here? I typically buy organic to avoid pesticides and buy my meats from Whole Foods because I know they care about the animals having humane living standards and there are no hormones or antibiotics in their meats. Any links or sites you can direct me to would be much appreciated!

    Thanks!

    • Lauren August 16, 2013 at 6:50 am #

      You’re welcome Jennifer! I’m glad you found the post helpful! For conventional milk I would recommend Natrel, and for eggs I would go for BurnBrae Nature Eggs – the hens are on an all-natural feeding program that is high in fibre and contains no medications, antibiotics or animal by-products: http://www.burnbraefarms.com/consumer/our_products/shell_naturegg_naturesbest.htm. And when it comes to conventional & organic produce I always use the Dirty Dozen (12 fruits & veg that have the highest amount of pesticides that you should buy organic) & the Clean 15 (least amount of pesticides and ok to buy conventional): http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/. Hope that helps!

  16. Lisa Abbott September 2, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    Dear Lauren,

    Thanks for the great info, I generally trust the conventional milk in Canada due to rBGH being prohibited for dairy cows, However, I just read an article about GMO feeds being legal to give to organic cows in the US, do you happen to know if this is this legal in Canada?

    Thanks, Lisa

    • Lauren September 3, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

      Hi Lisa, thanks for the comment! Would you mind sending me a link to that article? In the meantime I’ll look into whether or not this is true in Canada – I hope not!

      • Lisa Abbott September 3, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

        http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_28148.cfm
        On second reading, it doesn’t specifically mention organic cows, so I may be mistaken. Under the section that talks about probable exemptions for I-522 (proposed GMO labeling law in Wa state):
        ” Meat, cheese, dairy and eggs from animals – These will be labeled if they come from genetically engineered animals. However, they are exempt if the animals ate genetically engineered feed but are not themselves genetically engineered. This exemption is common all around the world. It didn’t make sense for Washington’s law to be stricter than international standards. ”

        Thanks again!

        • Lauren September 5, 2013 at 9:02 am #

          Hi Lisa,
          Thanks for sending me the article. Unfortunately, that is true. Basically, if you want to ensure that the animal/food bi-product is 100% GMO-free than you have to buy organic, and make sure the label on whatever you’re buying says that the animal was only fed organic feed (which it usually does). This is the only way to ensure that the feed & food is 100% non-GMO (everything organic is non-GMO). Hope that helps!

      • Christa July 11, 2017 at 6:45 pm #

        Be all careful not to distinguish between states in the us
        Look for instance at California milk?

  17. Stefanie October 1, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

    I’m located in Alberta and the only organic milk that I find readily available is by Dairyland. Do you know if this is from US cows or Canadian? Or any information regarding Dairyland products?

    • Lauren October 1, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

      Hi Stefanie,
      Thanks for the comment! Dairyland is a Canadian company. Here’s a link to their website so you can learn more about them: http://www.dairyland.ca/.

    • Carol October 12, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

      Hi Stefanie,
      You can also get Avalon brand in the health food stores, and if you buy the 4 litres jug…there’s a bit of savings. Also…I’ve read whole milk is better than the others simply for the Vitamin A. It is not added to whole, organic milk. AND…it’s vitamin A palmitate (synthetic version of vitamin A) in regular milk. So, not only do we only drink organic, but we avoid vitamin A palmitate! It’s been years since I did the research, and so I do not know my source, but a big reason was that it has neurological affects (hyper activity, lack of focus, lack of good sleep, moods, etc.). Again…sorry for no source…but once I learn a principle, I tend to move on to fix the next thing!!

    • Gabby December 15, 2013 at 7:27 pm #

      Hi Stephanie,
      As Carol said, you can buy AVALON, you can find it in Superstore or mostly in Planet Organic and other organic stores or in SafeWay store they have their own organic milk.

  18. D Vosper January 29, 2014 at 1:27 am #

    Just a note…although pasteurization is necessary..(Even when I had fresh cow milk brought
    to my home in India we needed to boil it ten minutes to kill TB etc…)
    What should not be done in an Organic Milk is homogenization. I am not sure whether or not Natrel is
    homogenized but what homogenization does is make it so the fat globules to not separate in the milk.
    In natural un-homogenized Milk the liver processes the fat and all is well…When it is homogenized the liver
    does not process the fat and it goes straight thru the liver and into our arteries etc..plugging up our plumbing and causing a variety of other illness’s…
    At the moment I have switched to Kootenay Meadows Organic Milk for this reason…plus in comes in a glass
    jar …while Natrel comes in plastic…Thanks De

    • Lauren January 29, 2014 at 10:47 am #

      Hi De,
      Thanks for bringing that up. Unfortunately, Natrel Organic milk, and most pasteurized milk products are homogenized to prevent the separation of milk & cream. It’s no wonder so many people have allergic reactions & sensitivities to cow’s milk – it’s not easy for our bodies to digest & filter! The good thing is that there are great alternatives to cow’s milk. Almond, hemp, and hazelnut milk are all good substitutes.

  19. Shahul February 28, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

    Me and wife were discussing about switching to organic milk and bumped across this article. Thanks very much for the information. Our main concern was using hormones to extract more milk from cow, now that being addressed here in Canada I don’t think it is necessary for us to switch especially when organic is very expensive. But I have to admit organic milk tastes really better than non-organic. It tastes very much similar to milk we get in India.

    Btw this is for lactose intolerant people like me, recently I switched to buying lactase enzymes that can be added to normal milk to make it tolerant. This proves to be more cost efficient than buying lactose free milk from the store. Just my 2 cents. You can get lactase enzyme drops from any drug store, personally I would suggest the brand “lacteeze” as it is more effective than any other available in Ontario.

    • Lauren March 2, 2014 at 7:01 am #

      Thanks for the comment Shahul, and I’m glad you found the information helpful. Interesting about the enzyme drops – I hadn’t heard of that. In terms of dairy intolerance, you should try goat dairy products – goat yogurt, goat cheese, and feta. Goat dairy is more alkaline vs. acid, and therefore more easily digested. Goat dairy also doesn’t have to be homogenized because the fat globules or cream remain naturally suspended into the milk.

  20. Bill March 3, 2014 at 10:53 am #

    The article gives five reasons that someone might buy organic milk, but none of these reasons concern the ethical treatment of the cows! That’s my only reason for buying organic milk.

    • Lauren March 3, 2014 at 11:36 am #

      Hi Bill, thanks for the comment, and that is a good point. The ethical treatment of animals should be one of the factors in the decision-making process when it comes to buying our food. I did some additional research, and Natrel dairy company makes the ethical treatment of their cows a priority for their organic & non-organic dairy products. Here is a quote from their website: “Natrel is part of Agropur dairy co-operative. Agropur is a co-operative of about 3,000 farmer members who are committed to ensuring the highest animal welfare standards and strives to ensure that all members exceed Provincial Dairy Regulations , legislation relating to quality, traceability, hygiene and animal welfare.” Sealtest is another diary company that is also part of Agropur. Here’s a link to Agropur’s website if you’re interested in learning more: http://www.agropur.com/en/. Thanks for bringing up this very important point!

  21. saida April 24, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

    I just posted about why you should buy organic milk in Canada 🙂 A lot of people have commented on animal welfare and when I did my research I called several companies to find a source of milk from grass-fed dairy cows. If you are in Southern Ontario, I highly recommend checking out Sheldon Creek Dairy and Harmony Organics. Both feed their cows a diet that is primarily grass/hay/foliage and they go above and beyond what is legally required by Canadian law when it comes to animal welfare.

    Both companies also produce non-homegenized milk which is easier to digest as it includes the enzymes naturally present in milk to aid with its digestion.
    You can read my full blog post at http://abreathofsimplicity.com/is-organic-milk-worth-the-premium-price-tag/

    • Lauren April 25, 2014 at 7:36 am #

      Hi Saida – thank you for providing additional research! That’s great to know about Sheldon Creek & Harmony Organics – do you know where it’s available?

  22. Rachel May 21, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    Hi there,
    I just wanted to say a few words on this article, I live on a dairy farm, I have all of my life, and all farms whether organic or not are all inspected and tested. Farmers treat their cows as humanely and kindly as possible, they are how we make money, and an unhappy or injured cow will not milk near as much as a happy cow. We are toying with the idea of switching to organic, and I hope that everyone supports canadian milk, whether it be organic or conventional. The one way to be absolutely sure you are buying Canadian milk is if the carton or bag or box of a dairy product has the blue cow on it. As a farmer I would not push you to buy organic or conventional, I would just hope you are buying dairy products with the blue cow and are supporting your neighbours. If the public buying milk only ever bought canadian milk products, maybe the prices wouldn’t have to be so steep. It’s the people buying their produce and meat from Costco and never thinking that the farms they passed on the way to the city are suffering because they can buy a steak for a $1 less a pound.

    • Lauren May 23, 2014 at 6:05 am #

      Hi Rachel – thanks for the comment! I agree – we should all support Canadian farmers – buy local! If I may ask, why are you toying with the idea of switching to organic?

  23. Julie June 20, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    Organic milk shines in comparison to regular milk when you consider what’s left out — artificial hormones in milk, for instance. Before the U.S. Department of Agriculture gives its coveted “USDA Organic” label to milk, the USDA certifies that cows are not given the synthetic hormone known as recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH, also known as BGH, recombinant bovine somatotropin or rBST). Farmers often give rBGH to dairy cows to make them more productive.

    But rBGH also makes these cows more sickly, causing mastitis (inflammation of the udders, often caused by infection). And it’s not just cows that are getting sick: rBGH has also been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer in humans. The additive has been banned in Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and the entire European Union — many are calling for a U.S. ban on rBGH, too.

    But hormones aren’t the only problem with regular milk: the overuse of antibiotics in milk is rampant among dairy farmers, just like it is on most factory farms. These antibiotics are given routinely to cattle (and many other livestock) and the drugs show up in the milk the cows produce. Pesticides, too, are also present in the feed of dairy cattle, and these too can show up in milk. Organic milk, however, has none of these ingredients, since their use is forbidden in USDA-certified dairy cows, who can only eat certified organic feed.

  24. Jay August 1, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

    Hi Lauren,

    You did an amazing work by collecting facts about Organic Vs Conventional milk. Thanks for doing some research and putting it into blog. You will get several blessings from people. 🙂

    I have gone through entire article and all comments. Would also thank to all people who commented here.

    I live in Toronto for almost decade now and consider it my home. I like the concept of buying locally and helping local farmers but what I have observed is most times people buy milk from Super Stores just for sake of comfort and don’t bother to do bit research like you and everyone on this blog did. Apart from comfort there are few other things to consider like information and availability of local farmers. Also money is big factor especially when demography of Canada is mostly occupied by Immigrant families. They always want to buy cheap which is natural and nothing wrong but they don’t realize that they have to pay in long run for same. Check this website for local stuff http://eatlocalgrown.com/ I will try to get more information on same.

    Coming back to Organic Milk Vs Conventional Milk you have written that the main difference is that Cows are feeding grass which uses pesticides. My question to you is that then is it fine if we use Conventional Milk and do you know what will be the impact on our health in Ontario specially and apart from Natrel and Seal Test what brand you suggest or its wise to stick with these two Brands when it comes to Conventional. Also would be great if you could tell why Natrel’s price is more than Sealtest or other brands.

    Thanks a ton in advance. You have done amazing work.There are few ppl. like you who take time and decide to give back to community in making them aware. Keep up the good work.

    • Lauren August 11, 2014 at 10:54 am #

      Hi Jay,
      Thanks for the comment! If you’re sticking to conventional dairy, make sure it’s a Canadian company to avoid the use of BVH (bovine growth hormone). I’m not sure why Natrel is more expensive then Sealtest – it could have something to do with their branding, and website. That would be a good question to submit to Natrel! http://natrel.ca/en/contact-us. Let me know what you find out!

  25. Jane August 18, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/safety-salubrite/raw-milk-lait-cru-eng.php

    All milk in Canada, organic or not is pasteurized.
    All milk in Canada is antibiotic free. The difference between organic and non is the wait time after treatment with antibiotics. You should correct your info as it is misleading.
    Farm boy carries organic milk and chocolate milk. There are also now micro-dairies in Ontario for example Millers sells Jersey milk. it was delicious and can’t wait for broader distribution.
    What is unclear Ito me is if Vitamin D is added to Organic milk as it is to regular milk as it doesn’t occur naturally in milk.

    • Lauren August 22, 2014 at 7:50 am #

      Hi Jane, you’re right about the fact that organic milk is pasteurized, and about the process of administering antibiotics – thank you for reiterating that (I do mention both of those points in my post). I think my post is a little misleading because my lettered list that I start with is meant to be a list of misconceptions as to why people choose organic, but I go on to discuss them, and that there aren’t many differences between organic & conventional milk in Canada. I should clarify that, thank you.

  26. Aggy April 4, 2016 at 1:49 am #

    With respect to the last point in the post, organic does not imply free of pesticide. Organic farmers are permitted to use pesticides and many exercise this right. It’s just that the pesticides should not be synthetic. You may think this is a good thing, but natural pesticides are no less carcinogenic than synthetic pesticides–they are equally harmful. Thus, the comment that the cows are fed “pesticide free grain & grass” is not 100% accurate. Sadly, this is one of the worst misconceptions about organic, and in fact, some of these “natural” pesticides are turning out to be worse than their synthetic counterparts. We just assume they are better because we equate natural with “good.”

  27. raisa August 19, 2016 at 2:26 am #

    Hi Lauren,

    Today I bought a Natrel organic milk and at home I saw to my big surprise that it contains palmitate. Doesn’t it breach the standards of organic production? Thank you for your reply!

  28. Raisa August 27, 2016 at 2:02 pm #

    Hi Lauren,

    I wonder why do certain producers put palmitate in organic milk (the case of Natrel). May we call it organic after this?

    Thank you

    • Lauren August 31, 2016 at 1:22 pm #

      Hi Raisa,
      Sorry for the delayed reply – great questions re: palmitate. Vitamin A palmitate is a synthetic vitamin added to milk products to make up for the fat and vitamins that are removed in the pasteurization process. Adding palmitate to organic milk products doesn’t have any effect on whether or not we can call it organic as it doesn’t affect the pesticide/hormone/antibiotic use on the cows and the feed. Hope this helps!

  29. Karen September 6, 2016 at 4:13 pm #

    Hi,
    Thanks for the great info. You mention that you don’t drink milk, how do you feel about other sources or dairy (cheese, yogourt etc.) both for you and your children?

    I’m currently breastfeeding and have stopped all diary as I find it has contributed to my little ones gas and spitting up. When I start solids, I’m planning to continue to breastfeed but am wondering about introducing other dairy products such as cheese?

    Any info or resources you can provide would be really helpful.

    Thanks!

    • Lauren September 6, 2016 at 6:17 pm #

      Hi Karen, no, our family doesn’t drink cow’s milk. Research has shown that it’s difficult to digest, a common allergen, and can create excess mucous, which can lead to higher rates of ear infections in young children. It’s also high in sugar, and the pasteurization process has removed most of the enzymes and healthy bacteria. Our family gets calcium from plain Greek yogurt, and aged white cheeses, which are higher in healthy bacteria making them easier to digest. Chia seeds are also a great source of dairy-free calcium, plus have the added benefits of being high in fibre, and healthy fats (can be added to smoothies or soaked in almond milk overnight for chia pudding). When my son wants milk to drink or for use in cereal or oatmeal, I use organic almond milk, which is also a great source of calcium. There are also many other options for nut milks out there such as coconut, cashew and hazelnut. Just be careful that there is no carrageenan in the ingredients list when you choose nut milks as this ingredient can cause digestion issues, and has been linked to other health issues. Hope that helps!

      • Karen September 7, 2016 at 1:55 am #

        That’s great. Thanks for the info Lauren. I really appreciate it. I really enjoy the info on your blog and your recipes.

  30. Mark October 12, 2016 at 5:31 pm #

    I don’t think the choice should be between organic or non-organic but between grass fed vs grain fed. I from my research most organic companies seem to provide grass fed cow milk which contains vital omega-3 where as grain fed cow milk contains no omega-3 unless fortified.

    That is not to say that all the other facts are not important to consider(growth hormones, antibiotics, etc.). For me and especially for my growing daughter I specifically research for ways to add omega-3 for healthy brain development.

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