Consumers turn to organic milk with the belief that this milk is healthier, while others have strong environmental or animal rights beliefs. And luckily, organic milk is a few cents more than conventional milk in the current marketplace.
Research is somewhat limited with regard to evaluating the health benefits of organic milk over conventional milk. This can be confusing to some of us milk drinkers.
To clarify this for us, the Department of Agriculture has four specific requirements that assist in the definition of which milk is organic and which milk is not.
One requirement is that the milk must come from cows never treated with bovine growth hormone, used to increase milk production. Some people feel that milk treated in this manner may increase hormone-associated cancers or have an effect on growth hormone levels in humans. Apparently there are people who believe that the bovine growth hormone (BGH) is protein-related, meaning that if a human ingests it, the protein gets destroyed in the acidic environment of our stomach. Logically, less garbage in would translate to our bodies having to process less garbage and therefore, less garbage out, yes?
Second, organic cows milk must come from cows free of antibiotic treatments. If a milk cow is treated with an antibiotic, this cow is removed from the herd for a year. And, conventional herds of cows can not give milk until assessments show that the milk is antibiotic-free. Tanks of milk are tested for the presence of antibiotics on a regular basis.
Another requirement is that the milk cows are fed feed that is grown without pesticides. There are some reports indicating that non-organic milk may be allowed to contain small quantities of particular pesticides, so long as these amounts remain below established tolerance levels. Some researchers have stated that they have not found any grave health issues directly associated to pesticides in cow feed and health risks in humans. With that being said, less garbage in. less garbage to process, less garbage out.
Finally, organic milk must come from cows that have access-to-pasture. Some consumers envision year-round grazing of blissful cows. However, as this is possible in specific climates, not in typically colder climates, there is no established minimum requirement, organic milk can come from cows that have had limited entry-to-a-pasture. There are those who consider that pasture-fed cows produce more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) – an essential fatty acid (EFA) found to be protective against cancer. Others dispute this stating that grass feeding alone does not definitively result in elevated CLA levels.