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?