Green Living: Another Vote for Organic Food

A new EU-funded report adds another reason to go organic with at least some products. Newcastle University looked at 22 store bought brands and found that organic milk had lower levels of saturated fats and more good healthy acids, including Omega-3s.

Gillian Butler who was the lead researcher published her study in the Journal of Dairy Science and stated that the health benefits of organic milk were found year round. She was quoted saying, "switching to organic milk and dairy products provides a natural way to increase our intake of nutritionally desirable fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants without increasing our intake of less desirable fatty acids. By choosing organic milk you can cut saturated fats by 30-50%." In fact she goes as far to say that consumers should choose organic over conventional milk.

On the other side of the fence is the whole raw milk debate: is it good for you or not? There are arguments on both side which basically can be summed up into 'yes it tastes good and is excellent' versus 'it made me violently sick and it has germs'. At the end of the day, I tend to think it is a personal choice involving a degree of experimentation. There are hoards of people who drink raw without any complaint. As someone who has tried it, I can vouch that it does taste unlike boiled/pasteurized milk.

One of the best things about raw milk farmers is that they take great care of the animals focusing on smaller herd size and quality. Additionally, the use of hormones and antibiotics are rare. These benefits can easily be obtained by switching to organic milk. However many people suffering with Crohn's diseases have reported that switching to raw milk has vastly improved their symptoms because of the enzymes and bacteria that is found in it.

This post isn't about organic milk versus raw milk, so returning to the topic at hand. Organic milk is better for you and there are several reasons why - the top reasons are the fact that cows aren't given antibiotics or hormones which can inadvertently affect you. If you purchase your milk from a farm that practices good farming techniques, you can be ensured that the cow was grass-fed, allowed to range on pesticide-free pasture and generally lived a pretty good life. Under USDA regulations there are four criteria for milk to be labelled 'organic': 1) It should be free of hormones 2) It should be free of antibiotics 3) It should be fed on pesticide-free feed 4) It should have "access to pasture".

Following rule (3) and (4) is a bit of a problem for many brands that mass-produce organic milk. The feed in question can also include organic grain and "access to pasture" does not mean that the cow is allowed to graze all through the year. A cow can graze in pasture only a limited time and still produce milk that is certified organic.

As an ethical consumer that wants to buy truly organic milk being aware of food regulations is essential. Endorse the real stuff, because it is good for you!

Photo Credit: Flickr