Organic Milk Vs. Regular Milk: Why I’m Ditching Organic.
[Image Credit: Benjamin Horn]
My husband and I were at the milk section of the super-market. I reached for “conventional” milk. He told me to put it back and that we were buying organic. The truth is we have always been buying organic. We met 5 years ago and I doubt we’ve ever bought non-organic milk.
But since I started this research about what we should really be eating, I came to realize that organic is hype and hence – I had to ditch it.
Organic Milk Vs. Regular Milk
I was always buying organic milk because I thought that regular milk:
- Had antibiotics (I was wrong.)
- Had dangerous growth hormone (I was wrong.)
- Was coming from cows who were treated less humanely than the ones in organic farms (see below for details.)
- May have higher nutritional value (I was wrong.)
Let’s address these common concerns one by one.
Organic Milk Vs. Regular Milk: Which one has the highest antibiotics residue?
Organic Milk is produced without antibiotics. Regular Milk is safe from antibiotics as well!
Every tank of raw milk is checked for antibiotics residue before the milk gets processed. If a tanker is found positive then the milk is rejected for human consumption.
In particular, here’s what the FDA states about the process of testing for drug residues:
The PMO requires a milk sample to be collected every time raw milk is picked up at the farm (also known as a “universal sample”). A milk sample is also taken when a truckload or bulk tank of milk arrives at a Grade “A” dairy plant for processing. Each arriving truckload of milk at the plant must be tested for the presence of at least four of six specific Beta-lactam drugs (penicillin, ampicillin, amoxicillin, cloxacillin, cephapirin, and ceftiofur).
If this bulk milk sample shows concerning results, each farm that supplied milk for that truckload will undergo mandatory testing. Universal samples collected at the farm level are typically only tested if the bulk tank of milk that arrives at the processing plant tests positive for drug residues.
Now every year the FDA produces a report with its finding on drug residues in milk. The most recent one is the one for the year 2014. Want to guess the percentage of drug residue in pasteurized milk and milk products?
That’s right. Zero milk products were found with residues above the tolerance level.
But here’s the differentiation between organic and regular milk. Organic milk is produced from cows not treated with antibiotics. If a cow is treated with antibiotics, then her milk is not labeled as organic.
Regular milk may contain residue from antibiotics, it’s just that this residue is below the tolerance level.
So let’s get back to the article about natural vs. synthetic food. In this article we covered that it’s all about the dose! Any substance can be good in some doses, bad in some others. Even vitamin C is bad if taken in big quantities.
Same is true for antibiotics, and that’s exactly why there’s a tolerance level. And the news is superb – all 100% of pasteurized milk is safe!
Where can I learn more about drug testing of milk?
Organic Milk Vs. Regular Milk Antibiotics Verdict
Both milks are equally safe. It’s a tie!
Organic Milk Vs. Regular Milk: Which one contains growth hormones?
If you’ve ever watched TV, then you might have learned about the “evil” growth hormones. These are hormones injected in cows in order to make them grow faster and produce more milk. I say “evil” not because they’re evil, but because they are presented as evil.
First, what is a growth hormone? According to the FDA “Growth hormone is a protein hormone produced in the pituitary gland of animals, including humans, and is essential for normal growth, development, and health maintenance.” We’re talking about estrogenic growth hormones that have the potential to increase milk supply usually 10-15%.
First, let’s start with how “dangerous” these hormones really are.
I’ll take it directly from Dr. Jude Capper, an animal scientist:
An 8-oz steak from a steer given a hormone implant contains more estrogen than a steak from a non-implanted animal. 42% more estrogen in fact. That’s undeniable. Yet the amount of estrogen in the steak from the implanted animal is minuscule: 5.1 nanograms. One nanogram (one-billionth of a gram or one-25-billionth of an ounce) is roughly equivalent to one blade of grass on a football field.
By contrast, one birth-control pill, taken daily by over 100 million women worldwide, contains 35,000 nanograms of estrogen. That’s equivalent of eating 3,431 lbs of beef from a hormone-implanted animal, every single day. To put it another way, it’s the annual beef consumption of 59 adults. Doesn’t that put it into perspective?
If birth-control is a sensitive subject, let’s compare it to vegetables: one 8-oz serving of cabbage = 5,411 nanograms of estrogen, over 1,000 times more estrogen than the same serving size of steak from a steer given a hormone implant.
Apparently, cabbage has more hormones than beef! BAD cabbage! (just kidding, these quantities are extremely small, and yes, safe.)
Second, not every cow in every “regular milk” farm is treated with hormones. In 2007, only 17.2% of cows were treated with bST (recombinant bovine growth hormone.) So yes, most cows producing conventional milk have never been treated with growth hormones anyway.
Third, pasteurization destroys most of the bST contained in milk.
Fourth, after ingestion, growth hormone as any other protein in milk “is digested into its constituent amino acids and di- and tripeptides. There is no data to suggest that BST present in milk can survive digestion or produce unique peptide fragments that might have biological effects.”
So yes, even if there are traces left, they are destroyed. So you see, growth hormone poses literally no risk.
Finally, here’s the major reason growth hormone has become controversial: it is insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1), as milk from rBGH-treated cows has higher levels of this hormone. This serum has been linked to cancer. So naturally, I researched cancer.org for their take:
“Some studies have shown that adults who drink milk have about 10% higher levels of IGF-1 in their blood than those who drink little or no milk. But this same finding has also been reported in people who drink soy milk. This suggests that the increase in IGF-1 may not be specific to cow’s milk, and may be caused by protein, minerals, or some other factors in milk unrelated to rBGH. There have been no direct comparisons of IGF-1 levels in people who drink ordinary cow’s milk vs. milk stimulated by rBGH.
At this time, it is not clear that drinking milk, produced with or without rBGH treatment, increases blood IGF-1 levels into a range that might be of concern regarding cancer risk or other health effects.”
The FDA has been asking these questions about IGF-1 since the 1990s and has concluded that there is no appreciable risk for consumers.
Where can I learn more about growth hormones in milk?
Organic Milk Vs. Regular Milk Growth Hormones Verdict
I didn’t find any real risks from growth hormone in milk. Plus, most regular milk doesn’t have any traces anyway since cows are not treated with it. So I have to call it a tie.
Organic Milk Vs. Regular Milk: Which one comes from “happier” cows?
Originally I was under the impression that organic milk comes from really happy cows, you know the ones that roam freely in the fields, eating grass and sleeping under the sun.
However, organic certification doesn’t require either full-time pasture access, more space for the animals, or better animal practices. The only requirement is that farmers allow cows and other ruminants to graze for at least 120 days a year. That’s it.
A simple Google search on “organic milk animal cruelty” and PETA’s site comes first calling out the organic myth: “Cattle have their horns cut off and their testicles cut out of their scrotums, and many are branded with sizzling-hot irons, resulting in third-degree burns.”
Apparently, both organic and non-organic cattle farms could do better.
As for conventional milk I couldn’t find any welfare-specific guidelines. I did read that especially in good climates they get a lot of pasture time, however I didn’t find any strict rules. If you do know of any, then please leave a comment below and let me know.
If you want to make sure the products you buy come from well-cared animals, look for labels like the Animal Welfare Approved. Such labels can be applied to both organic and non-organic milk: As long as the animals are treated according to their specifications and then they can get the label.
Organic Milk Vs. Regular Milk Animal Welfare Verdict
The only relevant guideline for organic milk was grazing for a minimum of 120 days a year. I’m not sure what the length is for cows producing regular milk. Hence, I’ll have to give this win to organic milk.
UPDATE (Oct 2015):
- After talking with a number of farmers, following them on Facebook, and watching quite a few videos of cows, I realized that the impression I had about happy cows feeding outside was not exactly correct: There are several cows who actually prefer to stay inside and that farmers need to PUSH to get them out of their nice air-conditioned barn. There is no difference in animal welfare between organic and conventional farms. Hence, I have to change my previous verdict to a tie.
- More about animal welfare: There are many lies perpetuated by animal activists. This particular PETA example I mentioned above about cattle horns is analyzed on my animal welfare article.
- The Animal Welfare Approved label (and many such other labels) are not necessarily science-based. Learn more about cattle welfare here.
Organic Milk Vs. Regular Milk: Which one has highest nutritional value?
Apparently they are the same. You’ll get equally nutritious milk regardless of whether you pick organic or conventional.
What you should know though is that the quality of the milk depends heavily on multiple factors, irrelevant to the organic vs. regular farming practices. According to a 2015 review study in the Journal of Dairy Science:
“A main complication is that farming practices and their effects differ depending on country, region, year, and season between and within organic and conventional systems. Factors influencing milk composition (e.g., diet, breed, and stage of lactation) have been studied individually, whereas interactions between multiple factors have been largely ignored.”
Now let’s discuss a 2013 PLoS ONE Journal study that found a difference in Fatty Acid profiles. According to the study, “organic milk contained 25% less omega-6 fatty acids and 62% more omega-3 fatty acids than conventional milk.”
Now we like omega 3 fats because they help protect against heart disease and may decrease the risk of depression, stroke, cancer and other diseases. So based on this knowledge we should conclude that organic milk is superior, right?
First, we used to think that omega 3 fatty acids are better than omega 6 fats, but that’s no longer supported. “While there is a theory that omega-3 fatty acids are better for our health than omega-6 fatty acids, this is not supported by the latest evidence,” says Dr Frank Sacks, a professor in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard.
Second, these quantities are not meaningful. Just to put things in perspective: You’d have to drink 5.5 gallons of full-fat organic milk to equal the omega-3 content of one eight-ounce piece of salmon.
Organic Milk Vs. Regular Milk Nutritional Value Verdict
It’s a tie. There’s no evidence that one type of milk is better than the other.
Why After 5 Years of Religiously Buying Organic Milk, I’m Ditching it for Conventional
I honestly thought that organic was better. However, after doing my research I realized that organic may be better when it comes animal welfare, yet even that is highly questionable (UPDATE: it’s a actually a tie). Everything else is hype.
I used to be afraid of antibiotics, and hormones, I even thought that organic was more nutritious – all wrong.
I’m actually surprised at how wrong I was.
So back to the super-market, when my husband and I disagreed about what milk to buy.
“Why organic?” I asked. “I told you there’s no risk with antibiotics, or growth hormone and nutritional value is the same.”
He implied we could afford it, so why not.
Then we looked at the price again. At Trader Joe’s half a gallon of organic milk costs $3.99 while regular milk costs $1.99. So organic milk is $2 or 100% more expensive than regular milk.
Still we can afford it. But is this a good reason to buy something that offers no value? Just because you can?
We’re buying about 1 bottle per week, which would give us 52 bottles in a year. That’s $2×52 = $104 invested annually to organic milk.
With those $104, we could:
- Buy an annual Netflix subscription (and also save $8). Yay for movie nights and House of Cards!
- Donate to the United Nations Refugee Agency and buy 14 thermal blankets, or else 6 tarps for the families in Nepal. Let’s do some good.
- Pay a one- or two-month exercise class pack – and exercising for one or two months will definitely bring benefits (unlike organic milk!)
So that’s why I’m ditching organic milk for good. Now let me turn this back to you. What milk are you buying? Why? Leave a comment and let me know.
This article is part of the What Should We Really Be Eating? series.
Some good points, but you’re missing a couple:
1. I think the bigger concern about antibiotic use with conventional livestock than actual antibiotic residues in the milk is the breeding of antibiotic-resistant super-bugs.
2. Conventional cows are fed conventional grains, which are sprayed heavily with harmful pesticides like Roundup.
Personally, I recommend avoiding milk altogether, or getting it fresh from a local farm.
The thing about animal vs human antibiotics is that farmers rarely use the same antibiotics as humans and if they do its very minuscule. Here is a great info-graph about this. the information comes from the FDA.
Emily, thank you for a valuable addition to this discussion.
Your comment of “sprayed heavily” is a common myth about conventional farming. We are conventional grain growers and I’d be happy to share any info you would like and answer any questions you have regarding how much we spray our crops.
Thanks for commenting Sarah and offering your farmer perspective.
You’re right, I shouldn’t have said, “heavily.” What I meant was, more than most other crops.
I suggest that you look up pest control methods used on non-GMO crops. I think you will find that conventional in fact do not use more.
I think you’re confusing the meaning of “conventional” here—It refers to non-organic, not non-GMO.
I assumed that since you said Roundup that it would have to be GMO – since Roundup would kill any non-GMO crops.
Roundup was just an example (I could have chosen a better one).
Thanks Emily, Frasier, and Nate for the input. Loving this!
RoundUp is pretty much the safest herbicide on the market. It works by disrupting a pathway that is only found in plants, not in humans and other animals and any residue is long gone by the time the crops are harvested for livestock feed.
As for your other point, as the infographic shows, most of the drugs we get to use on cattle aren’t used in people anymore, they’re old tech. Your doctor prescribing high-powered antibiotics to treat simple ear infections is doing worse things than the livestock industry is.
Nate, I didn’t say these were big deals—just that they are worth including in a discussion of organic vs. conventional milk. Thanks for your response.
Hi Frasier! I am a conventional dairy farmer. I am also co-founder/admin of a new initiative called “Ask the Farmers” which Emily Line is also part of. We have completely opened up our farms for consumers to combat misinformation being shared. One of the reasons I love the group so much is I have personally learned so much from my fellow farmers. I think you would enjoy it! AND I am totally not trying to spam her post with links but I just want to make sure everyone knows you can ask us anything & we will share! http://www.askthefarmers.com
#2 is a false premise, as it assumes that (1) All are fed GMO grains (2) That GMO is harmful in any way And (3) that non-GMO grains have any less pesticides (in fact they may actually have more – just different ones).
Warren, the vast majority of corn, wheat and soy grown in the US—and thus fed to US livestock—are indeed GMO. Regardless, I didn’t say anything about GMO, and only gave Roundup as an example pesticide. Organic crops are free of synthetic pesticides. If you have information on toxins in organic grains, I would be glad to see it.
There is no GMO wheat.
Whoops—not in commercial production, no—my mistake (it’s routinely sprayed with Roundup pre-harvest, though). Anyways, corn is the main grain fed to cows.
Hi again, Frasier. The overuse of the word “toxin” is rather discouraging to see as a farm wife. We eat the food we grow and toxin literally translates to poison, we do not grow “poisonous” food. Are pesticides poisonous? Yes, absolutely—to the weeds and the insects they are meant to kill. It is not poisonous or toxic to the crops or humans at the doses they are sprayed.
I have written about this a lot on my blog and the use of glyphosate to pre-harvest wheat is not a “routine” practice worldwide (or even nationwide). We do this routinely in Alberta, as do they in North Dakota and similar growing regions where our season is very short and we don’t have a lot of wiggle room. I wrote about this here: nurselovesfarmer.com/glyphosate-wheat/
Thanks, but again Roundup is just an example, and the grain of focus here is corn.
Back to the original topic, it is true that pesticide residues in conventional milk are very low; http://www.whatsonmyfood.org/food.jsp?food=MK
Also they don’t test for residues of “Organic pesticides” in milk, and many organic pesticides you can spray right up to the day of harvest.
I was addressing your specific comment “Whoops—not in commercial production, no—my mistake (it’s routinely sprayed with Roundup pre-harvest, though).” and wanted to clarify for people browsing the comments.
No nothing to add regarding corn as we don’t grow it. I always find it rather ironic that organic farmers are allowed to use conventional animal manure, when it’s almost guarnateed that those animals were fed GMO grains. So it’s okay for GMO-laced-poop to fertilize an organic field, but it’s not okay to feed their cattle GMO grains. Makes no sense to me.
I was indeed a bit off base with the term “routinely,” since the routine is not widespread. You’re right that it doesn’t make sense for organic farming to use non-organic manure—among the many reasons I’m not a big advocate of organic. I prefer the motto, “know your farmer.”
More importantly, that GMO grain was synthetically fertilized, thus providing Organic farming with a huge input of nitrogen from synthetic sources. Could even today’s scale of Organic farming survive without this input?
Stranger still, Organic dairy cattle in Canada can be treated with antibiotics, after a few weeks the milk becomes Organic again, but the cow never does, no matter how long it has been since it was treated. Very strange rules…
Ironically, if the wheat was GMO-RR, you couldn’t spray it with Roundup to dry it out. In effect, RR wheat could end up with less RR residue than non-RR wheat. Not that any residue currently found is of any significance.
(it’s routinely sprayed with Roundup pre-harvest, though)
Not really, it is not a common practice in North America (less than 10%), in Europe it is far more common (over 40% in many countries) UK, Germany for example.
Grass is the main feed for cattle, they are only finished with grains, except for dairy cattle and they eat mostly silage (the whole corn plant)
A Wisconsin dairy farmer told me their cows are fed a diet of 60% Grass, 40% Corn and soybean mix.
Sounds about right. I live in an area where corn or soy doesn’t grow well, so they feed Barley and alfalfa along with grasses.
I’ve seen US farmers comment that they typically don’t. Perhaps this is due to a longer growing season than in Canada?
can you show an article about the pre-harvest spraying of round-up? i grew up on a grain crop farm in ohio growing soybeans, corn and wheat and only heard of spraying round-up while the plant was still young to kill off the already started weeds in the field. I have never heard of spraying it once the plant has grown enough to keep the ground shaded preventing weeds from getting enough sunlight to grow. I am interested to learn the reasoning behind using it pre-harvest
From what I understand, it’s used to kill the wheat plants to speed up the drying process for harvest. I think this is the link Sarah posted elsewhere in these comments:
Organic crops are free of synthetic pesticides.
Well that’s where you would be wrong. 43% of organic foods test positive for banned pesticides, and some synthetics are allowed in Organic production. There is no field testing for grain crops, they have only tested fruits and veggies.
If you have information on toxins in organic grains
Like mycotoxins/naturally occurring toxins or pesticides that are not toxic at field applied doses?
I’d love to know where you got the 43% statistic. I’ll be soon writing an article on organic produce so this is very relevant. Thanks for commenting!!
From the USDA…
And remember when the test organic crops they only test for synthetic pesticides and only 197 of them.
When they test conventional crops they test for well over 300 pesticide even some Organic approved ones. and they still only detect pesticide residue on 40% of all crops.
Superb, thanks a million! Are you also blogging? If yes, I’d love to know where.
I don’t write well enough to blog…
Check out how many samples tested positive for spinosad in the conventional report and remember that spinosad is an “approved Organic pesticide” so they didnt test for it in the organic report. It is also a wildly popular pesticide in the organic farming industry,because it actually works. Just one example.
Thank you!! I love your pointers. Are you a scientist/farmer?
Oh, and you know how they claim that GMOs havent been tested for long enough not like the Organics…So funny when their 2nd most popular insecticide has been around less time than GMOs 98 for spinosad and 96 for GMOs.
Not a scientist, just a humble alfalfa framer/hockey coach with too much time on his hands. Oh, that reminds me I have farming stuff to do…
Read my comment to zombie and understand your being played.
You’re right—I oversimplified/generalized with that statement. Still, the data shows that organic produce generally has less pesticide residues (and cadmium); http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24968103
I’m glad we had the chance to explore these other factors, but I think we’re getting lost on tangents here—the bottom line is, we’re in agreement that organic milk is not inherently safer than conventional milk.
the bottom line is, we’re in agreement that organic milk is not inherently safer than conventional milk.
Yep, it is not safer
or more nutritious
doesn’t have less pesticides in it
it is not better for the cows, most likely worse
worse for the environment
and costs up to 2x more money.
Why would it be worse for the environment?
Well the worse impact that farming has to the environment, is the farming itself. Organic farming uses 25-50% more land to produce the same amount of food, impacting 25-50% more Natural land. Also Organic uses far more tillage to control weeds leads to far more soil erosion and harms the soil structure.
Those are some good points (that probably apply to most but not all organic farms). Where did you get 25-50%?
Well here is one study that claims the difference is 34% on average when they are directly compared.
That’s not when they are directly compared—it’s when the farming practices are most similar between the farms being compared other than the differences required for organic certification—in contrast to “13% lower yields (when best organic practices are used).”
(when best organic practices are used).”
That is still not a direct comparison, they would need to compare best to best. It would be like comparing the best vegan athlete to Joe Schmo average athlete. So even with the “Best” organic practices are used they still yield less than average.
But the researchers don’t draw a conclusion as to whether the lower yields are indeed “undermining the environmental benefits of organic practices” to the extent that organic farms are worse for the environment overall.
Can’t you figure that out all on your own? More land is used, more fuel is used, more labor is used, more tillage is used, it is not that hard to figure out.
The researchers acknowledge that organic farming practices have “environmental benefits” that might be undermined by decreased yield, and say that “assessments of the many social, environmental and economic benefits of organic farming systems” are needed. So no, without the results of such assessments, one cannot “figure that out all on [one’s] own.” The question, to put it another way, is whether the decreased yield outweighs the other benefits. It seems you are assuming it does.
But there are assessments, dozens of them even the one that they cite.
It seems you are assuming it does.
I am not assuming anything and I know many Organic farmers including my Grandfather, and my Uncle is an X organic farmer.
You are the one that is assuming that a farming method based on Ideology not science or best practice is better.
Would you trust your health to a faith healer with a great marketing gimmick or a go to a real Dr.
I said, “seems,” because you gave only the one source and acted like it proved your point. I am not assuming it’s better, I’m simply saying the study you linked does not establish that it’s not.
Didnt you see the carrot yield above is is way less than 50%.
Any way lets put this in perspective and say that Organic is close to conventional and yields are 12% less. There are 300 million acres of row crops in the US, that means that we would have to plow under 36 million additional acres just to maintain what we produce now, that is equal to 11 Yellowstone National parks or the entire state of Maine.
There is a reason that only 0.6% of all farm area is Organic.
Um… Most antis prefer the faith healer, or as they’re known today as “naturopaths.”
Here is a chart of organic yield compared to conventional with a crop breakdown from USDA data.
That’s odd, as apples are at the top of the (EWG’s dirty dozen) list for pesticides on conventional produce, and carrots are one of the cheapest organic vegetables I can buy…
EWG’s dirty dozen
The EWG just counts the number of pesticides not the amount or whether they are dangerous or not. Also apples are only one of a few organic crops that they are allowed to use synthetic pesticides on. (streptomycin) They also use Spinosad on Organic apples.
Well conventional carrots are even cheaper. Carrots store well and yield high, that is why they are inexpensive.
“EWG singles out produce with the highest pesticide loads for its Dirty Dozen™ list.
[…] Each of these foods tested positive a number of different pesticide
residues and showed higher concentrations of pesticides than other
Yes, conventional carrots are cheaper, but not by as much as the reported difference in yield would suggest.
From there site…
They just count the number of pesticides, or potatoes would be number one.
You can get all the data for pesticide residue here…There are very little pesticides on any crop.
Check it out, your tax dollars at work… 40% of all tested crops has 0 detectable pesticides.
You are a little liar, that was a 1st time usda pilot study 5 years ago and not since, involving imported as well as domestic organics and only .05% tested above EPA organic standards for pesticides. The 43% you quoted had pesticide residue, but winddrift was sighted as a possible issue for any and all pesticides. There has never been a follow study to this USDA test done since this 2010. Wake up video boy and stop your bullcrap.
Well it was 2011 but I will not complain about a year or 2.
and not since
Hmm wonder why, after almost half of organics tested positive for prohibited pesticides..Considering the USDA regulates the Organic industry, maybe they were a bit embarrassed.
imported as well as domestic organics and only
Domestic was just as bad as imported, how can you justify this?
The 43% you quoted had pesticide residue, but winddrift was sighted as a possible issue
Over 40% of conventional crops test 0 for pesticides and they test them for over 300 pesticides, organic less than 200 pesticides. Where is this contamination coming from?
.05% tested above EPA organic standards for pesticides.
It was 5%, you only missed it by 1000%, but then again Math was never your strong suit.
It was 2010 and the USDA organic standard allows for 5% tolerance of residues of pesticides. 96% of the 571 samples were below that EPA organic standard. 57% tested for none and the 43% you quoted were below USDA organic standards. Better? The test conventional not include glyphosate.
N once again it was 2011, but i will let that go. Why do you support a system that allows almost or over 50% of farmers to cheat? 40% of conventional; crops do not test positive for pesticides, and they test them for over a 100 more pesticides? Neither were tested for glyphosate.
Hi Heavyhanded, thanks for getting into the conversation however we’re
not here to be rude to each other. We’re here to have a productive
discussion. So critical is ok, rude is not ok. Rude comments will be
Don’t matter to me dear. You can follow shill boy. Just do your self a favor and visit his profile and then ask yourself why is he on multiple sights at the same time commenting on the same subject day after day? Because he gets paid to do it!
I hope it doesn’t seem like I am anti-Organic, nothing could be further from the truth. I am all for Organic growing a superior product, but it has to be superior, not the same thing marketed to be better.
I say let the Organic industry prove that the are better and stop with bashing conventional farmer. The fear based marketing is totally off base, they should tell us why Organic is better.
As far as I can find out, there is no GMO wheat on the market.
I just have one comment. I understand you are trying to make a point but Roundup is not a Pesticide it is an Herbicide. also my family has done grain crops for a long time and we have never used any spray pesticides on our crops. they only sprays we use are herbicides
“A pesticide is any substance used to kill, repel, or control certain
forms of plant or animal life that are considered to be pests.
Pesticides include herbicides for destroying weeds and other unwanted
vegetation, insecticides for controlling a wide variety of insects,
fungicides used to prevent the growth of molds and mildew, disinfectants
for preventing the spread of bacteria, and compounds used to control
mice and rats.”
You need to reexamine that contention that Roundup is sprayed heavily, or that fields are saturated, soaked or drenched with the chemical. If herbicides were so cheap that farmers could afford to use it on their fields to the extent that all the anti-GMO hype says, why is there a market for optical sensors like Weedseeker? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9iqxZuZOqc If you are investing up to $100,000 for that technology, then you must be looking at saving enough pennies on your herbicide costs to pay for it. Overuse of herbicides does not make economic sense. Any farmer who drenches their fields would likely be out of business the next year due to overwhelming debt from chemical purchases.
Verna, I already admitted that the word “heavily” was a poor choice, and never said anything about “saturated, soaked or drenched.”
I said to reexamine the contention. I didn’t say it was your contention. You were echoing and passing along talking points of the anti-GMO activists, where exaggerated adjectives are thrown around as if they were the Gospel truth. It’s never a bad idea to stop and check the accuracy of talking points.
You’re right that it’s never a bad idea to stop and check—this discussion has already reminded me of that. However, I did not echo or pass along any anti-GMO talking points—the prevalence of GMO corn and soy (I accidentally added wheat to the list) is straight from publicly available data, and otherwise I have not discussed GMOs here.
But them why are you discussing Roundup? All crops are resistant to at least one herbicide. Wheat Barley and rice are naturally resistant to 2-4-d and banvil. Corn is resistant to Atrazine, and about a dozen of other herbicides. Soy and most legumes are resistant to Pursuit.
Anyway if you want to learn more about the toxicity of all herbicides look at Cornells excellent EIQ (environmental Impact Quotient) for almost all herbicides, Glyphosate (Roundup) is right up there with vinegar.
Here is a link if you are interested.
Video boy you need to stop your Hillard Fleishman shill crap. Check this little maggots profile and you will see this is all this little twerp does for a living.
I’ll admit, Roundup was not the best example to use, but again, it was just an example.
Thanks for the link.
Sprayed heavily? I think the current limit on glyphosate use is around 12 ounces per acre per year.
I am a conventional dairy farmer, thank you for this! I would love to talk to you about the National Dairy FARM Program (you can easily Google it & I have written about it on my blog) but it is animal welfare guidelines for conventional dairy farmers like myself. It is an excellent program as I am a HUGE supporter in making sure all dairy cows are well treated. Please let me know if you would like to talk more of have any questions for me! Thank you! P.S. my blog is http://www.thefarmerswifee.com
Hi Krista, thanks for commenting! I’m definitely interested and have already liked you on Facebook. I’ll keep you in mind as I’m continuing my research for the what we should really be eating series. Also, if you think there’s a subject I should address, then just let me know. I’m open to ideas.
I applaud your research and efforts to learn more about the agriculture industry! For me, it’s all about choice. I respect your choice and I ask that you (everyone) respect mine. For me, it is so not worth the premium for organic dairy products, especially in Canada where rBST is banned for use, all milk is antibiotic free and I believe one of the main differences in organic vs. conventional dairy cattle is that organic *has* to have ‘x’ number of days on pasture, which is really not an important factor for me as a consumer knowing that conventional farmers treat their animals well and produce high-quality products.
It’s a lot about what the animal is consuming for feed. Conventional feed can be full of pesticides and other non appealing things
“Full of pesticides”? So you’re okay with animals having their feed covered in their own manure as fertilizer? BTW, I see nothing wrong with it, I know it’s safe—but by your logic organic feed can be “full of shit”.
Spreading manure is no different whether it’s conventional or organic.
Kelly, organic feed can be full of pesticides as well. Organic doesn’t mean “pesticide free.”
We are an organic dairy, switched from conventional, and we are strictly prohibited from using any type of pesticides and must have a buffer from any non certified fields such as neighbors land. If applied you would lose your certification. Granted it isn’t normally tested but it is forbidden, at least in vt.
We are not even allowed to use fly spray.
Perhaps that’s a VT thing, but feed can be certified organic (along with produce for human consumption) as long as they use approved organic pesticides instead of synthetic ones. But in either case, it’s not a health concern.
I never meant to imply that I thought one was safer or healthier, I believe it’s a personal decision every should make for themselves based on as much correct information they can get.
Non-Gmo crops are sprayed with pesticides also, both organic and synthetic. So organic feed has the equal opportunity to have “non-appealing things” as well.
Hi Megen, I’m unsure about that, so for now, the answer is I don’t know. I’d have to do research to answer.
Here is a link to a Sustainability Report done by the Innovation Center for US Dairy: http://www.usdairy.com/~/media/usd/public/dairysenvironmentalfootprint.pdf.pdf
I buy the cheaper one even though it’s a luxury here!
I buy regular milk because that is what we can afford right now. I am relieved to know that the FDA is doing their job and that my family is not losing out by not being able to afford organic milk like we used to. Whew! Thank you Maria!
You might want to check out the National FARM Program, here is a link to their year in review for 2014. http://www.nationaldairyfarm.com/sites/default/files/NDFP-2014-Year-in-Review.pdf
Conventional dairy farmers do a lot to make sure their animals are healthy, safe, and comfortable.
Roxy, you rock! I’ll be needing those resources for a future article, thanks a lot for sharing!
I have been questioning for a while now whether organic is better or not. I did a lot of research in the crop department but haven’t dived into the dairy department yet. This was really helpful information for me! Thank you. If you’d like to read some of what I’ve learned about organic crop farming, you can read the article here: http://fitlifepursuits.com/eating-organic-right-choice/
Thank you Lindsey for sharing your lovely article with me and for commenting. Also, kudos for doing the research.
I am a conventional dairy farmer. Regarding your animal welfare questions: 1) dairy cows are not branded, they get ear tags with their number/name on them as well as a RFID ear tag that has all her info on it. 2) Dairies have no need for steers so no testicles are removed. 3) Horn buds are removed, using lidocaine, so that the cows cannot use them to hurt each other or any of the employees.
Regarding the pasture question, I have to laugh because there is only one organic dairy in my home state (Arizona) that I know of and the employees always complain about how hard it is to get the cows out of their comfortable, air conditioned pens into the pastures. Apparently they have to work really hard to push all of the cows out and then most of the cows spend their allotted pasture time at the fence mooing to be let back into the pen.
I personally do not believe in organic because when my kids get sick I give them antibiotics (if the doctor prescribes them) and I believe that it is the moral thing to do the same for my cows.
I never quite figured out how the thing with not giving sick cows antibiotics came to be regarded as organic. Using that definition, the anti-vaxxers and anti medicine folks would qualify.
In my opinion, most of the organic rules are all arbitrary and make no sense when you actually know cows. It’s all marketing. Just slap together a bunch of rules just crazy enough that the majority of dairymen think it is too ridiculous to comply. That way you can keep the supply low to charge a lot for it. Marketing then just does the rest, convincing people who don’t know about cows that organic must be better because it costs more and has a special label on the bottle.
The thing is they give all cows sick or not anti-biotics. this is why we have super bugs. Because these viruses are becoming immune to these antibiotics because they are going through a resistance ecology in cows. They learn to become drug resistance from over use of anti-biotics in cows and pigs and then enter the rest of the ecology.
Giving cows antibiotics is harmful to us not because the milk has them but because these once easy to treat diseases are once again becoming extremely dangerous from over using antibiotics
We are also causing the super bugs-anyone in the medical field will tell you this. The main reason is when a prescription is prescribed, instead of taking it until it runs out and getting the full dose, some are stopping the medicine as soon as they feel better. Well the bugs are still there, but now are replicating a resistance to that specific antibiotic. So when the person gets sick again, and new one has to be issued. It is a huge problem. Also, not all cows/bulls/steers/heifers (cattle) are given antibiotics no matter what. Granted, I am on the ranching side of things instead of the dairy side, but we do give antibiotics to our cattle unless they are showing signs of sickness. Just like a human, we would treat sickness with medicine, so why not be able to treat this in cattle? Like it was said above, happier and healthier cattle produce better and sell better. This is our livelihood! Why would we want to jeopardize that by over medicating or treating our cattle horribly?
You are wrong allllllllllllllllll cows , bulls steers and heifers, pigs, sheep cattle are given antibiotics sick or not . Cattle are treated horribly , they are kept in a pen all day not allowed to move same with pigs. they are given antiobiotics non stop to prevent them from getting a disease . Learn about the industry before you make stupid comments.
Antibiotics are put into all animal feed
Have you ever been to a farm? We have a dairy farm. We do not treat out cows with antibiotics unless they are sick. We work diligently with our veterinarian to make sure our animals are healthy. Our animals are happy. Just like Jen said, happy animals produce better. This is our livelihood, we take the best care that we can. Before you rant about an industry that feeds people, spend some time on a farm. You will have to get your hands dirty though.
My family has been in the dairy business for centuries what is the name of your farm ?
Again, please stick to fashion or what ever it is you do. The amount in ignorance in your posts is insulting.
didn’t you say you feed your cows rumensin in another comment? And why so condescending with the attitude?
I think the reason for the condescending attitude is because someone using a moniker “Fashion Urbia” is not very knowledgeable on dairy farm practices and if Fashion’s family has been in the dairy business for centuries, then it proves that everything she is saying is true because HER family has been doing it. Capice? iOW, her family has been dosing their dairy animals whether well or sick and they still use the barbaric ways of branding, testicle removal (how can they remove testicles on a dairy cow?) and horn removal. She’s talking through her hat. She’s probably one of those PETA members who commit theft, breaking and entering, and other crimes to make a point, which are usually lies anyway.
Ranchers and farmers have been feeding antibiotics to the animals we eat since they discovered decades ago that small doses of antibiotics administered daily would make most animals gain as much as 3 percent more weight than they otherwise would. In an industry where profits are measured in pennies per animal, such weight gain was revolutionary.
Although it is still unclear exactly why feeding small “sub-therapeutic” doses of antibiotics, like tetracycline, to animals makes them gain weight, there is some evidence to indicate that the antibiotics kill the flora that would normally thrive in the animals’ intestines, thereby allowing the animals to utilize their food more effectively.
The meat industry doesn’t publicize its use of antibiotics, so accurate information on the amount of antibiotics given to food animals is hard to come by. Stuart B. Levy, M.D., who has studied the subject for years, estimates that there are 15-17 million pounds of antibiotics used sub-therapeutically in the United States each year. Antibiotics are given to animals for therapeutic reasons, but that use isn’t as controversial because few argue that sick animals should not be treated.
The biggest controversy centers around taking antibiotics that are used to treat human illnesses and administering them to food animals. There is an increasing amount of evidence suggesting that the sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics in food animals can pose a health risk to humans. If a group of animals is treated with a certain antibiotic over time, the bacteria living in those animals will become resistant to that drug. According to microbiologist Dr. Glenn Morris, the problem for humans is that if a person ingests the resistant bacteria via improperly cooked meat and becomes ill, he or she may not respond to antibiotic treatment.
Concern about the growing level of drug-resistant bacteria has led to the banning of sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics in meat animals in many countries in the European Union and Canada. In the United States, however, such use is still legal. The World Health Organization is concerned enough about antibiotic resistance to suggest significantly curbing the use of antibiotics in the animals we eat. In a recent report, the WHO declared its intention to “reduce the overuse and misuse of antimicrobials in food animals for the protection of human health.” Specifically, the WHO recommended that prescriptions be required for all antibiotics used to treat sick food animals, and urged efforts to “terminate or rapidly phase out antimicrobials for growth promotion if they are used for human treatment.”
Although conclusive evidence directly linking the use of drugs in food animals to an increase in drug-resistant bacteria that make people sick has not been uncovered, a number of recent studies suggesting such a link concern many scientists. “There is no evidence that antibiotic resistance is not a problem, but there is insufficient evidence as to how big a problem it is,” says Dr. Margaret Mellon, with the Union of Concerned Scientists.
In one study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on February 6, 2002, researchers found links that strongly suggested that the people who developed Cipro-resistant bacteria had acquired them by eating pork that were contaminated with salmonella. The report concluded that salmonella resistant to the antibiotic flouroquine can be spread from swine to humans, and, therefore, the use of flouroquinolones in food animals should be prohibited.
Another New England Journal of Medicine study from Oct. 18, 2001, found that 20 percent of ground meat obtained in supermarkets contained salmonella. Of that 20 percent that was contaminated with salmonella, 84 percent was resistant to at least one form of antibiotic.
Really? That’s news to me. If you knew how expensive antibiotics are you would know that we are just out there giving drugs to every cow. Everyone is trained on proper antibiotic usage. We have protocols posted all over the dairy on when antibiotics are required (which is when the cow is sick). The vet regurarly provides classes for the employees on identifying and treating sick cows.
I am not sure what your line of work is, but I’m guessing it’s not on a dairy or even in agriculture. Perhaps you could stick to providing “facts” about what you actually know, not just what you read on foodbabe or some other just as rediculous website.
Where I farm almost all dairy farmers give most of there cows dry cow therapy at drying off. Dry cow therapy is an antiobiotic. The dairy industry is a massive culprit in the creation of antibiotic resistant bugs. The public need to know that many cows get sick(mastitis) and treated with antibiotics.
On this topic… As a professional in bovine health, when I need to treat a group health problem (diarrhea, pneumonia, etc.) I obtain samples and submit them for antibiotic sensitivity testing so that a can find the specific class that would be most effective and create less chance of resistance…. When I go to the doctor with a cold they prescribe me antibiotics based on clinical signs alone… So which practice seems more likely to create issues to you?
“As a professional in bovine health, …
When I go to the doctor with a cold they prescribe me antibiotics based
on clinical signs alone…”
You have illustrated a point. I thought everyone knew these days that antibiotics are useless for a cold.
Antibiotics aren’t for viral infections https://www.drugs.com/article/antibiotics-and-viruses.html
They actually don’t give all cows antibiotics sick or not. That’s a broad statement and is false and misleading to consumers that don’t know the realities of producing food on a farm. For one, profit margins are tight so its quite expensive and you can’t sell the meat or milk from animals testing positive for antibiotics. Total loss.
Giving antibiotics to your sick animal, whether puppy, cat, or cow is a humane practice and responsible owners do it. Super resistance is a concern and it has and is currently changing how therapeutic use of antibiotics are managed in livestock. It is not THE only reason we have super bugs. Human side is that some(not all) doctors have given antibiotics very liberally without discretion for…viral symptoms. We want things fixed, so at the first sniffle we ask for…antibiotics. So its complicated and needs everyone’s attention.
The practice of low level feeding of antibiotics is a historical artifact of livestock practice that goes back to the 1960s. Animals are not isolated and treated as needed. Withdrawals times are strictly adhered to more than humans do with their own children. Sulfa drugs have always been highly regulated because of deadly allergic responses in humans. So, be careful to paint broadly our opinions because they damage the livelihood of our food producers, who are great stewards and very efficient at feeding our world.
Jen, this is fantastic information and funny too! Picturing the farmers trying to get the cows out of their comfortable pen puts a smile on my face. Thanks a lot for sharing!!
I also wanted to say that every dairy should be a proponent of cow welfare. Happy cows make more milk, stressed cows make less milk. It pays to keep the cows happy and comfortable. At our dairy we are very invested in this and are constantly having outside professionals come out to provide ongoing education. For example, a guy just came out and trained every employee on “calm cattle moving techniques.” Cow care has more to do with individual dairies than with conventional vs organic.
For some reason I got a mental picture of ‘The Cow Whisperer’, and choked on my coffee……
Haha, just call me Robert Redford. 🙂
As somebody in the beef industry, I’ll point out that applies to more than just dairies. Cattle raised for slaughter are also kept as comfortable and healthy as possible, as stress and sickness negatively affects growth.
I am very curious as to why, since you spend so many hours researching diligently all of the facts, you didn’t feel the need to assess exactly how many days per year on average non-organically raised cows spend out in the pasture. Incidentally, my father-in-law is an organic dairy farmer in Denmark. Here’s an equally humorous story as the one by Jen. During the summer his younger cows have access to an island they graze to help out a fellow farmer who then doesn’t have to use as much energy and resources tidying and cutting the grass there. But when it’s time to round these cows up, they have become semi-wild, and it’s always a hilarious challenge trying to round them up and convince them to come in to the ‘comfortable air-conditioned pens’. So Jen, are your cows so privileged they get to stay in their nice cosy pens all year round then? Wouldn’t want to expose your over-indulged cows to fresh air, sunlight and exercise?
My cows are exposed to fresh air, sunlight, and exercise every single day. They all live in dry lots with plenty of shade/air conditioning provided. Just because we don’t let them roam the “back 40” doesn’t mean they are packed in like sardines. Also, we bring in fresh green chop daily from our local (also family owned) farm so the cows also get their fresh greens without having to treck out to the pasture every day.
“without having to treck out to the pasture every day”
Huh? Exercise is good for health, just like it is for humans.
I wouldnt feed my daughter gmo soy and corn doused with glyphosate. That’s not quality to me. There have been several reputable studies testing urine samples of children put on an organic diet and the results are pretty extreme. Prior to eating organic kids have pesticide levels that exceed safety standards. It doesn’t take long to clear after eating organic. I don’t know what you feed your cows but I would not buy milk that was produced by cows eating corn and soy.
Are you taking into account differences in weather?
Yes it’s awesome
I am a conventional dairy farmer too. We brand all our calves and don’t use pain medicine. In our region most cattle are branded. There is no practical way to use pain medication. We don’t use RFID tags either. We do raise some steers and use rubber bands to castrate. There are many ways to manage herd health. Every dairy has there own practices. We also use a hot iron to dehorn our calves. Our veterinary strongly discourages the use of pain medications for these type of procedures. He believes the trauma to apply pain medication can be worse than the procedure, and even if you apply pain medication there is no long lasting therapy.
Hi Brian, thank you for commenting and sharing your insight.
I have a hard time believing you are not trolling. I am a dairy veterinarian, and if your vet tells you that application of pain meds is worse than the procedure, then please get a new (younger) vet that doesn’t have such archaic notions. I dehorn with a hot iron too, and would never do it without sedation and a nerve block. That is really cruel, and someday you will be hurt yourself.
I have a 1250 cow dairy farm. When we went through our FARM Plan evaluation the evaluator told me he had done over 80 evaluations. Not one of the dairies he evaluated used pain medication dehorning calves. I don’t know of a nerve block that can be applied by a dairy farm. I don’t believe it’s cruel. It doesn’t take very long and they seem to express little pain afterword. Do you medicate before branding? I have an excellent vet. He uses state of the art technology.
We use a nerve block on every calf we dehorn with a sedative
I have been in practice for thirty years. When I started in practice, we didn’t use anything when gouge dehorning of all sizes. I started nerve blocking and sedating to decrease the fighting and risk of injury. Across the board, my clients told me that calves did much better after dehorning with the nerve block and sedation. We teach our clients how to do the nerve block. It is very simple and effective and low cost. We don’t do any branding; if we did we would medicate. I will always chose to provide pain prevention or relief when possible, whether or not you perceive that the animal is in pain.
That’s awesome to hear! I am a current vet student focusing on food animals, and we talk a lot about pain meds. This is really neat to hear from the real world. We were presented with a scientific study that was done on long term effects of deep surgical pain, in humans actually… the bottom line of the study was the infants that were given pain meds during their procedures had little-no long term pain associated side effects. However, the group of infants that were not receiving the pain meds grew up and had a lower threshold for pain. So basically those people went on to live a life where they were more easily perceiving pain, during a painful experience.
The specifics are about which receptors were/ were not blocked by the medications during the procedures. If they weren’t blocked, those procedures “primed” the receptors for painful experiences later down the line in life.
Also for those of you wondering — why weren’t babies receiving pain meds?? the world was a strange place not too long ago, and it was thought that because infants could not express their pain, could not “remember” their pain that the pain was not there. Pain is a very difficult thing to quantify for Beings that you cannot just ask “hey does this hurt?”. To this day we are still learning about pain perception and the best ways to quantify that in animals. It was not too long ago that animals were not receiving pain meds during surgeries as well.. It’s unfortunate that it ever happened, but we are all learning and practicing better medicine everyday.
Kudos to everyone using pain meds!! It’s good for the animal, it’s good for us, and it’s good medicine.
Thank you. I was over here thinking that he shouldn’t be so proud of the fact that he isn’t doing things as good as he could. My vet trained me how to do a lidocaine nerve block in 5 minutes and I trained all my employees. It’s so easy it’s crazy not to do it. Also, the calves are so much calmer during the actual dehorning.
Brian, you touch on some big issues. I too am a conventional dairy farmer. I milk 50 cows in Vermont. Am I right thinking that several southwestern states mandate branding on cows?
My veterinarian strongly encourages pain mitigation with dehorning, though the FDA has recently given him some grief for it. There are NO drugs approved for pain mitigation in food animals, so using it while dehorning is technically extra-label use. Even aspirin and banamine are only labeled to control swelling and inflammation. We like to use a lidocaine nerve block to control acute pain from the procedure itself and Meloxicam to reduce pain during healing. I think it is well worth it, but we will see how regulations are going forward.
I think most western states brand their calves. I know some brand the day they are born. We brand our calves when we bangs vaccinate. We usually run about 200 through in about three hours. There has been issues of cattle theft. Some banks also require cattle to be branded. There is no practical way to provide pain relief or deaden the area to brand. Maybe I’m wrong in my assumption, but I think some vets who primarily deal with small animals and not large animals would be more inclined to encourage pain relief. Also I think larger dairies tend to do more things without assistance from vets.
At least in this area, the vets that serve dairy farms run large-animal-only practices. Few small animal vets have any interest in working with cows. I am really not trying to criticize you, Brian. Your veterinarian’s opinion is more important than anyone else’s.
I think these are very interesting comments. As a vet tech and someone who raises food animals (goats) I’m always stuck between the conversation of pain medication vs no pain meds. I think farmers are really stuck between doing the right thing for the animal vs applying with regulations to not put consumers at risk. My thing is if you give the pain medications for these routine procedures when the heifer calves are young with the intention of raising them, who’s to say that something won’t happen to one or two that forces you to sell off early for meat profit. Then the consumer can be put at slightly more of a risk. I am all about pain management but it’s an ongoing battle for farmers and vets alike to decide when to medicate, when not to, and whether extra label is safe for the consumer of meat or milk. And to try to make a profit or at least break even in the meantime is what makes the conversation even more versatile.
I live in Arizona and I do not personally know of any dairy that brands it’s cattle. Also our vet old as large animals and he was adamant that we use a lidocaine block when do you hold our cats.
I don’t know anybody who doesn’t brand their cattle.
It is my understanding that the pain medications are not labeled for calves intended for veal, but dairy calves being raised to maturity are acceptable. I believe it is due to unknown withdrawal periods for animals intended for food. The nearly 2 years it takes for them to reach milking age should be more thN adequate to clear the dehorning pain mess. Our vet recommends meloxicam due to an easier administration and longer effectiveness of pain management. There have been a couple of articles in our dairy magazines in the past few months indicating greater pain effect from dehorning than traditionally thought.
Yes, there have been articles and veterinarians advocating Meloxicam use. It makes all the sense in the world. It is a human drug though and is not labeled for use in food animals. Veterinarians have the authority to prescribe it extra-label for that very purpose. Unfortunately, some FDA inspectors are more restrictive than others and the one that most recently visited my veterinarian did not like that he was using it. I agree that it is effective and there is ample time for it to clear from their systems, but some FDA personnel are not so understanding.
Organic rules allow cows to be treated with antibiotics too. But the withdrawal periods for both milk and meat have to be doubled, and there is a ” three strikes and youre out rule”. So if the cow has been treated with antibiotics more than twice in a year it has to be culled. This is examined yearly at an in depth farm inspection. So please can you read up about what you write about, at source, not just what someone else tell you. My organic , and conventional, cows love grazing outside, and hate being kept inside unless it is snowing. But organic guidelines say you must consider breeding native breeds which are more suited to the system, so Holsteins are obviously the wrong breed. When I converted my organic herd in 2001 the Holsteins in the herd could not cope with the grazing system, so I crossed them with Dairy Shorthorn and British Freisan. The jerseys were also suited to the grazing system, with the exception of anything which had been bred to American bloodlines, they behaved like spoilt girls and only thrived when the weather was perfect
Not sure where you are from (I’m guessing Canada) but in the US any cow treated with antibiotics has to leave the herd immediately.
I farm in the UK, and have three dairy farms, two conventional and one organic.
Well, there ya go. You farm in the UK. Your temperatures are a lot different than those in the US. Depending on the state, the temperatures in the summer can range from 70 degrees Fahrenheit to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s pretty hard to tolerate the heat in a fur coat. 🙂
May I ask about your use of Rumensin or Bovatec products, and if you use any other sub-theraputic antibiotics?
Yes we use Rumensin. We work with both a vet and a dairy nutritionist regarding this.
As a dairy veterinarian, I have been very dismayed to see organic producers bend over backwards to not have to use antibiotics (even though they can with the longer withholds) and thereby delaying the timely initiation of treatment which can be the difference between life and death for cows with coliform mastitis, or calves with pneumonia.
We are certified in vt. And yes we can treat a cow with antibiotics but she must be removed from the herd and will never again be organic
“if the cow has been treated with antibiotics more than twice in a year it has to be culled”. Wow, that’s very harsh. Seems so redundant and arbitrary (like the rest of organic).
I disagree on Holsteins not being suited for grazing that is a bunch of cow poo,,,, any member of the bovine species is able to utilize grass as forage…. the idea that one cow is superior over another is a farce to say the least.. the difference is the amount of milk one can produce,, a dairy cow is only going to produce her genetic potential to the amount of her intake of minerals vitamins and nutrition she gets from her diet.. as they say what you put in you will get out a holstien produces the most milk generally but is still limited by her feeding program along with the higher milk production she is limited in nutritional benefits of her milk by those same mineral requirements that is why to get that higher production large farmers have to supplement so much more heavily. where as in a lower impact farm like a micro dairy setup the milk production levels are not as a factor lower production in dairy cows means a higher nutrient product produced and longer producing ages of the dairy animals involved
I think it’s ridiculous that PeTA and other AR zealots would oppose cutting a steer’s testicles from his scrotum when the push for mandatory spay/neuter and PEDIATRIC spay/neuter of pet dogs and cats.
Haha! I don’t think anyone in their right mind would ever accuse PETA of making sense or using logic.
agree completely Jen
I have a organic dairy and agree with everything you have said. The 1 major difference is in what the cows are fed. Grains and feeds must be certified organic to be fed to our cows.
I believe the most logical reason for anti-bio free milk is to reduce our tolerance to antibiotics, making them more effective for humans if we need them. But animals aren’t given the same antibiotics as humans do. Isn’t it illegal?
I am not sure about the legality but I do know that the classes of antibiotics we give to sick cows are not the same ones that are prescribed to either my kids or myself when sick. If it is actually proven that a class of drugs should be limited to human use only, that’s fine, great even. I’m a human and I would like to be able to use antibiotics that work. However I don’t think that animals should suffer and die when a simple treatment would save them just because people don’t believe in science.
But the overuse of antibiotics will make people immune to those antibiotic treatments and studies are starting to show that the overuse of antibiotics and hormones in dairy and meat is causing early puberty in girls as young as four. FOUR. And I am one of those people who actually gets sick from conventional dairy. It’s been happening ever since I was 15. My mom switched me to organic, and I’m fine now. So I can only ever eat organic dairy. Or conventional milk that says they don’t use antibiotics and hormones. Now, here in Idaho, we have a grocery store called WinCo, and usually their dairy is hormone free. Based on what they put on their milk and sour cream, I thought their ice cream was safe too despite not saying that it was hormone free. Well, I paid for it 20 minutes after eating it and paid for the rest of the night as well. I assumed they were hormone free in their ice cream too, but I was wrong, and it made me sick. A good chunk of people who are “lactose intolerant” really aren’t. It’s the hormones and antibiotics that are making them sick, and I’ve been dealing with this for the past ten years now. It sucks because I’ve had to become a label reader and I can’t enjoy quesadillas anymore! Or even fettuccine in restaurants because of the the conventional butter and cream that they use.
So please don’t say that you don’t believe in organic. For some of us, that’s all we can go with, so we pay the high prices because the other stuff makes us sick.
Wow, you are really good at referencing all of these studies without actually showing your work.
Also, and I’m trying really hard not to be mean, I don’t believe that what is happening with your digestive problems is more than psychosomatic. The placebo affect is real, most of what you said isn’t.
Jen, i think we could be friends lol. More and more studies are starting to discover what the dairy industry already knew…. age at puberty has more to do with weight than with actual age. Americans are lazier now than ever before which leads to more weight gain which leads to early onset puberty!
Why must you label all comments in favor of organic as naive or ignorant? Seriously, organic farming practices are better for the environment. There is simply no dispute to this. They also produce healthier food that puts less toxic chemicals into kids bodies. This has been proven. I understand that you are doing great, you made that clear. But organic, local, pasture raised dairy is always superior in quality. There is just no dispute when you add in local and pasture raised.
Hello, I came across this article:
Can you inform me on the information in here?
‘I have to literally push my kids outside to play in the fresh air and sunshine instead of playing on the computer indoors on a comfortable sofa all day’. They don’t always know what’s good for them…but once the kids are out, they are enjoying themselves…which makes me wonder, is there something wrong with the outside environment that is making the cows not want to stay there? Bad weather, no shade, food, drink, bored etc?
Milk cows aren’t little kids. They are all working mothers. They get plenty of fresh air and sunshine in their pen without having to trek out to pasture to eat. My parents visited an organic dairy where the cows had to walk over two hours one way twice a day to get to their required pasture time. You want to walk 8 hours a day just to eat so that people can feel better about “pasture time?”
I agree- long walks are not a benefit if the weather’s hot and there’s no shade, but that was kind of my point; if the outdoor environment isn’t right, maybe that’s why the cows don’t want to go there, even if it means plenty of space and a change of scene! Little kids/working mothers, whatever…they are two different species, but are both under adult human care and have little control over their husbandry. I was quoting you, by the way, but that statement seems to have been removed.
If they are not happy to go out then that’s because it is what they are used to. There is no such thing as organic farming in this country, its just a marketing ploy. My husbands family have done farming for centuries & the cows spend hours grazing every day, the problem is getting them in not out. It’s a bit like kids now, in on computers all day, I would have gone stir crazy. I have to say the milk tastes way better there.
Let’s be honest… when you say Dairies have “no use for steers, so no testicles are removed”… what do you really mean? I think you’re really saying the male calves aren’t of use, and they never have a chance to reach maturity, so no testicles would need to be removed. Instead male calves are immediately (meaning day after birth) sold and either slaughtered for dog food, or raised for veal and live less that a couple months.
As an AZ native I am glad for our state’s high dairy standards! I agree that sick cows should be given antibiotics just as a breastfeeding human mother would take a safe antibiotic. The mention of cows wanting back inside with the air conditione reminds me of unhealthy children or adults sitting in front of a screen all day. I would think that sunlight and fresh air is probably healthy for all living things, if they know what is good for them or not. Now being outdoors in our summer heat is probably not advisable!
I was with you up until the antibiotic thing. I have no problem with giving a sick cow antibiotics, but industrial farms often give their livestock antibiotics as a preventative measure. That’s not how antibiotics are supposed to be used and that’s exactly how super bacteria form.
I know this is old, they do give antibiotics to organic cows they have to its falls under the standards these organic dairy farmers have to do. They also have to quarantine them and then sell them when they recover they’re no longer organic after that. Their is so many other standards this writer didn’t mention about organic cows about how their fed, their bedding, and more and it all has to be certified organic.
I am not lactose intolerant yet I can’t drink regular milk but, organic or raw milk I can just fine there is something in regular milk my body can’t handle, but, the other 2 I do fine on. I think this writer should of done a lot more research before writing this article.
I just wish that more people would do what you have done and actually do some research. Unfortunately most will not.
Warren, I really appreciate your support, thank you!
As a traditional dairy farmer I was very glad to see your thoughtful consideration of the most common myths and reasonings behind the decision making of consumers when it comes to the purchase of milk.
As others have noted here in the comments animal care is not specific to the Organic model and as you pointed out Organic certification does actually specify how animals should be cared for.
The FARM program others have mentioned is actually has a nationwide enrollment of 75% of the nation’s milk supply and in 2014 it was decided that any dairy marketing organization participating in the program would be required to have 100% compliance with the program (in the past it had been voluntary and up to the discretion of the marketing organizations and co-ops. The details of the program include pain mitigation, illness prevention, environment and standards of care ( http://www.nationaldairyfarm.com/ ) So, in fact, both traditional and Organic animals have guidelines for animal welfare.
And while I was certainly appreciative of the fairness and efforts taken to examine honestly the different factors with regards to common misperceptions and myths about Organic and “Conventional” milk I would hesitate to encourage anyone to use PETA, or any other source with an agenda and mission dedicated to end of animal agriculture when searching for information about animal welfare. I understand and know, all too well, that those types of sites come up very quickly and at the top of the list in searches for animal welfare information but their “information” and “data” is untrustworthy and jaded, to say the least. Animal welfare and levels of stewardship are not determined, or guaranteed, simply by an Organic certification, nor are they implausible by NOT being Organic. They also cannot be determined by the size of a farm Those things are determined by the farmer. The simple fact is that being a good farmer is good business.
We are so fortunate that there are so many opportunities for consumers to enjoy different choices when it comes to fresh, local, quality milk and that because of the Organic business model and Traditional there are opportunities for family farms and business to grow and succeed.
Thanks for providing sensible, practical and accurate information for consumers.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful response! Also, thanks for the reference to the FARM program. I’ll be probably writing a new article on animal welfare alone, so this will be coming handy.
Also, you mentioned that sites like PETA’s have jaded information. Do you have any recommended resources on that?
As farmers, the resources against what PETA has to offer is our own experience & knowledge. PETA is well known for taking things out of context, using video footage that is edited, using video footage repeatedly to further their agenda, etc. In addition, a simple glance at their website will show a vegan agenda. They do not want animals treated better, they want to end all of animal agriculture. Type in “PETA to end animal agriculture” in Google and read all the titles linked directly back to their website. Organizations like HSUS are no better. This is what happened last year regarding HSUS, http://www.awesomeocean.com/2014/07/31/breaking-hsus-loses-charity-rating/
Your best bet is to get to know as many farmers as possible, ask all your questions, visit farms, etc.
Look forward to working with you!
PETA is very one-sided in their approach. My main issue with them is that they have many times in the past taken an isolated issue or event, and conflated it to appear as if it were common or industry-wide. For better sources, there are quite a few of the dairy and livestock publications online, and there are some articles on animal welfare.
I apologize for not not responding to your comment in more timely manner-if I had a valid excuse I would offer it, in the meantime I’m going to blame it on 2 teenagers, a farmer, and 3,400 cows :-).
Some of the best resources regarding animal care, welfare, practices and protocols are farmers themselves. We all do things a bit different, but that is part of providing the best care: tailor made for your family of animals. Other resources include veterinarians who are truly in field. Speaking with processors and Co-Ops regarding their requirements for their farmers speaks a lot to the balancing act between what consumers demand and what farmers provided what is truly beneficial for the animal. Excellent resources are Jude Capper & Temple Grandin, Cabot Creamery Cooperative ( my Co-Op) https://www.cabotcheese.coop/animal-care , Organic Valley http://www.organicvalley.coop/why-organic/humane-treatment/ , there are scads of dairy farmers online who discuss animal care including Julaine Treur of Creekside Dairy, an Organic farmer in Canada https://www.facebook.com/pages/Creekside-Dairy/292536304242730?pnref=lhc, Joanna Samuelson Lidback who operates a small dairy in Northern Vermont with her husband http://www.farmlifelove.com and even myself, thedeeremilkmaid.com , our family farm is a larger operation in Maine and while all these sources are closely tied to the dairy industry we are all vested in its success which is inherently dependent upon high standards of welfare and quality. The fact is, that even though we depend upon the continuation of farming for our livelihood we have, the majority of us throughout the decades, proven time and again that we are willing and able to improve and become better farmers and stewards. PETA, MFA, HSUS and ASPCA are committed to ending animal agriculture by their own mission statements in furtherance of vegan lifestyle and diet.
Thanks again for taking the time to research and investigate and your willingness to reach out!
Thanks for this thoughtful article! It is refreshing to see someone doing their own research on this topic, rather than listening to the “hype.” I agree with Jen Millican and her take on the animal welfare issues. I also have to give credit to PETA, for their incredibly inflammatory comments. Is it worth pointing out that all animals that are neutered/castrated have their testicles removed from their scrotum? Although not pleasant dinner convo, it is quite a common practice. Anyway, because you are former organic milk drinker, I think your piece will speak to others purchasing organic milk who are motivated by similar concerns. Hopefully you will ease their fears with the facts you have provided. Keep up the good work.
Hi Rachael, thanks for commenting! I will be probably writing another article on animal welfare alone, so any resources are more than welcome.
As a dairy farmer I am so excited that you did your research so well! Thank you! As for the animal well fare issues, you can view that however you wish, but know this, dairy farmers, no matter the size of method of production have to put the well being of their animals first. Sick or abused cows will not produce good quality milk. High quality milk comes from calm, happy, healthy cows. Consider that no 2 dairy farms are exactly the same, each farmer has different methods of achieving the same goals: healthy cows and nutritious products. I believe others have clarified the issues you discussed above, but if you have further questions, please ask or check out http://dairywomanstrong.blogspot.com
Hi Shannon, thanks for commenting and adding your insight on animal welfare. I’ll be checking out the site.
What a great article! Thanks so much for sharing. I too am a lay person who also used to be consumed by “everything organic” but also saw the light. When I looked into it, I also realized that its mostly just marketing (I’m sure there are individual organic farms or products that MAY be better, but are they “better enough” to justify the cost?).
It’s so funny because up until two weeks ago we were buying organic! So this new information is all very new to me. Thanks for commenting!
I am also a conventional dairy farmer and I am impressed by your research! It is so easy to buy into marketing information and/or do whatever the trendy people say you should do without looking at the facts. That said, I like having choices as a consumer and I think the take away message from your post is that organic and plain milk are both safe and nutritious.
You don’t have to be organic to allow your cows on pasture. Ours spend most of their time outside, but some days I do imagine they are jealous of other farms with climate controlled environments. While we don’t brand our cows we do use small metal eartags on calves and plastic number tags on chains for cows for identification purposes. So basically they wear earrings and necklaces. Cows and calves do push each other around sometimes as they try to be first in line or to get the best eating spot. Dehorning is a safety issue because of that for them, as well as farmers. We’ve tried breeding our cows to polled bulls whose offspring are born without horns with some success. As more of these bulls become available it will be a win for animals, farmers, and consumers.
I look forward to reading more of your well researched and common sense articles.
Hi Ryan, thanks for joining the conversation! Also thanks for discussing these animal welfare issues. Is it true that dairy farmers do dehorning without painkillers? If yes, then is there a reason behind this?
I’m a veterinarian, I don’t work with cattle now but in school we always used pain medications when debudding a calf (removing the skin over the spot where the future horn will grow to prevent the horn from forming). We used a local nerve block (like you would get at the dentist) before the procedure to prevent pain and a non steroidal anti inflammatory by mouth for pain control afterwards. I couldn’t tell you how prevalent that is in the industry but just know that not recommending pain medication use is not universal and not what I was taught in school for that practice. Very nice article, I used to drink organic before veterinary school and have been drinking conventional ever since!
Hi Melissa, thanks a ton for clarifying that! I’m relieved actually. Why would a vet not recommend pain medication though? Another farmer commented here and said the vet says it’s better without it.
Other farmer again. My veterinary told me he had a vet intern that was working with him last summer. The vet student wanted to apply pain medicine before dehorning. He said after the intern poked the area 15 times trying to deaden the area, it would have been less traumatic on the calf to just get it done. I also think size of operations makes a difference, especially if you are paying a vet to do procedures like this. We brand at the same time we bangs vaccinate. We usually do 200 or more calves at a time. When you are paying a vet $175 an hour to vaccinate that many animals, it would take way to long to deaden the brand area.
One more point on this. The vet says regardless of what pain medication you use it doesn’t last very long, and there isn’t a good long lasting pain relief method. When you have large group pens, it’s also unpractical to catch them again and put them through more trauma to treat with a short term pain medication. I don’t think there is any practical way to deaden an area to brand.
OT, but thanks for writing an informative article. Keep up the good work and I look forward to reading more.
One reason dehorning is done w/o painkillers is that the best ones are not available to farmers w/o a prescription or not available to be given by a farmer but only the vet. As a small dairy farmer, it is WAY TOO expensive to have the vet out to help dehorn 3-5 calves. Now, if it were absolutely necessary, yes, I would do this but truth is–dehorning also removes the nerve endings so once a horn is burned or cut off, they don’t feel it anymore. Dairy cows are extremely tough and generally go right back to eating when these types of procedures are done.
Many farms do use pain killers, though the FDA isn’t always fond of this. There are no drugs labeled for pain mitigation in dairy cattle. Even aspirin is only labeled to reduce fever and inflammation. My veterinarian has me use Meloxicam along with a lidocain nerve block. The Meloxicam reduces pain for several days after the procedure. Even though the calves are two years away from making their first drop of milk, the FDA recently gave my vet some grief about the off-label use, so it may not be an option in the future.
I am not a dairy farmer, but have quite a few conventional dairy farms in my rural Appalachian neighborhood. The cows are out on pasture other than at their morning & evening milking times.
Good article and well-balanced; I’m enjoying the comments from dairy farmers as well, as they’re proving to be very informative. I don’t know how the laws differ in Canada: I would like to think cows are treated more humanely and are out to pasture regularly, although I’m not entirely sure. Milk is the only organic food in our house, and I think it tastes better. But that could be my bias.
But using PETA as a reliable source of info on animal welfare? The ones who say eating eggs is eating the menstrual cycle of a chicken (which is ridiculously inaccurate), and compared the slaughter of chickens to the Holocaust. They also kill thousands of healthy dogs and cats at their shelters every year. They are a cult of lunatics.
I don’t know how the laws differ in Canada:
well I am not a dairy farmer, so I dont know all the rules. But I do know that in Canada Organic dairy cows are allowed to be given antibiotics, but they must be taken out of production for 3 weeks. That is the only rule difference that I can think of.
I would like to think cows are treated more humanely and are out to pasture regularly
Well forcing cattle to be outside in Canada is not humane, well maybe on Vancouver island. Dairy cattle don’t want to be outside when it is very hot, icy, or when it is very cold.
LOL.. when I first saw your post I thought it said “.. forcing cows to be outside OF Canada…”.
Hi Kristin, thank you so much for commenting! One q – is it true dehorning and castration take place without painkillers? If yes, then what’s the reasoning behind it?
is it true dehorning
Dehorning would be an easy fix for genetic engineering, there are already polled cattle (no horns), they could take the no horns genes and insert then into the best dairy bulls, and then no more horns after a few generations.
castration take plac
castration is uncomfortable but not super painful, they attach a rubber band around the the base of the testicle sack and after a few weeks they fall off.
As a guy it was most likely more painful for me to type this than it is for the calf,,,,Yikes.
Would love to read an article on ultra pasteurized vs pasteurized.
I am a dairy farmer, with both a conventional and organic farm. the main differences between the two systems are the stricter welfare requirements for the organic body (Organic farmers and growers) and the strict banning of pesticides, insecticides and artificial fertilizer. When I take milk home for my family I always take the organic… none of us know the cumulative effect of the use of sprays on our grassland. If you have a young family do you take unnecessary risks?
Hi Elizabeth, thanks for commenting! You may want to check out this article, where we talk about cumulative effects of toxins – https://fitnessreloaded.com/most-common-food-toxins/
There is somewhat of a tunnel vision effect in the US (and probably around the world) when it comes to nutrition. Just last week I was shopping and noticed some lady had 2 gallons of organic milk in her basket. She also had 3-4 boxes of super-sugared RTE cereals, a couple of 2 litre sodas, and Pop-Tarts. So even if there are any minor benefits to organic milk (which I doubt), it is hugely overwritten by many other factors.
Yes indeed paying more for something above and beyond a fair price for no more value for you or someone else is the very definition of the destruction of wealth.
Not according to the Organic growers?
“tested for the presence of at least four of six specific Beta-lactam drugs (penicillin, ampicillin, amoxicillin, cloxacillin, cephapirin, and ceftiofur” WELL GUESS WHAT FOLKS? That’s not good enough!! Those last 2 are FLUOROQUINOLONE ANTIBIOTICS and are the ATOM BOMB antibiotics than MAME us! AND there are MANY more Fluoroquinolones on the market as well! So lets say they don’t test those 2 just for arguments sake ignoring the fact there are more of these; say they pick the first 4 and don’t even test for the last 2! CRUD man! Talk about killing us SLOWLY! My body knows all too well what these antibiotics can do to you! I’m permanently disabled from them, I have a severe neurologic disease that is life time & extremely painful… nope I won’t be buying REGULAR MILK ever again! No thank you! I think you better do a little more research…
I may stand corrected that cephapirin, and ceftiofur could possibly not be FQ’s but that may not be good news at all, this may mean that Fluoroquinolones (quinolones) are never tested at all, and that’s terrible! Because they are used in meat, and they are not good for us as I explained before. There have been 40 News Reports on TV in the past 7 Months across the Nation showing the dangers for humans with Fluoroquinolones – why in the world would we have it in our food?! They are the ATOM BOMB of antibiotics.
Hi, you apparently neglected to read the previous comment in favor of typing ATOM BOMB again (possibly due to said comment being scientifically valid), so let me summarize: IT IS ILLEGAL TO USE FLUOROQUINOLONES IN DAIRY CATTLE.
“…Fluoroquinolones – Although data have not been sufficiently conclusive to prevent approval of sarafloxacin for chickens and beef cattle, it prompted FDA-CVM to prohibit extralabel use of these compounds in 1997. Fluoroquinolone products labeled for either humans or companion animals may not be used in food animals. Any deviation from a food animal label (such as use with a different species, dosage, route of administration, or disease indication) is similarly illegal. In the case of the approved beef cattle formulation of enrofloxacin (Baytril 100), this prohibition extends to all nonbeef-production animals, including lactating and nonlactating dairy cows, heifer replacements, and veal calves. Enrofloxacin may not be stored in dairy farm drug cabinets…”
I am also a conventional dairy farmer. I was very impressed by the quality of your research, it’s nice to see factual information being put out. I would like to draw a distinction in the use of hormones. Dairy farmers are not using estrogenic hormones at all. They are used in beef cattle to increase growth as you discussed. Estrogen is a steroid hormone, effective in multiple species of mammals. rBST is a protein hormone (which you alluded to) effective only on a single species, cows. It is because it is a protein that it is broken down by pasteurization and digestion. However, even if it wasn’t rendered ineffective by those processes, it would have no effect on humans because we do not have the receptors for it, our bodies would just see a random protein. It causes cows to eat more, which, in turn, causes them to produce more milk. And is only given to adult cattle.
Organic labeling also has requirements for not using pesticides on crops that are fed to the cattle, their feed must also be organic. But being unable to use antibiotics to care for sick cows is why we won’t ship organic. The milk from treated cows is dumped during treatment and tested free of antibiotics prior to being put in the tank again. Hence those residue thresholds you discussed. The testing equipment we uses tests positive above a specific concentration of antibiotic residue.
We also DeHorn our calves to prevent injury to other cows or humans, we do use pain medication based on veterinary recommendation.
As others have mentioned, it is just economically smart to treat the animals well, healthy cows make more milk, and require less veterinary visits. Plus, most farmers actually love their cows; it is often joked that the farmer treats his “girls” better than his wife.
Hi Charity, thanks for bringing more clarity to the hormones issue. Also the joke about the farmers and the “girls” is adorable!
I think this article misses the most valuable distinctions when choosing milk. Just like so many things, farms are all on a spectrum of practices whether organic or conventional. Practices will vary with the environment of the region, and the farmers themselves. I would encourage people to find out where their milk is actually coming from, a daunting task in a grocery for sure, but it is important to determine if your milk is meeting the criteria that are important to you. The Cornicopia Institue has a great ranking of organic milk on their website. Is there any ranking of conventional milk out there?
An important reason antibiotics are prohibited in organic agriculture is to limit the development of resistance to these antibiotics. Yes, residues are a part of it, but more importantly many(not all) conventional farms feed antibiotics every day, from the day the calves are born. By constantly exposing bacteria to antibiotics in this way, as a society we are constantly selecting the resistant bacteria who survive and make more bacteria.
As far as vaccinations, there is nothing in the organic standards to limit vaccinations as I understand them. To vaccinate or not would either be state mandated, or a decision of the farmer. Conventional and organic farmers would both be free to choose not to vaccinate if the state or their milk buyer do not require a certain vaccine.
At the bottom, the only way to really know if your milk is meeting the criteria that are important to you, is to find information on the farms supplying the milk for each brand. This is where Cornicopia Institute’s ranking is really valuable. http://www.cornucopia.org/dairysurvey/index.html Is there any ranking of convential milk brands out there?
Yes, residues are a part of it, but more importantly many(not all) conventional farms feed antibiotics every day, from the day the calves are born.
Nope, not ever in any type of farming.
As far as vaccinations, there is nothing in the organic standards to limit vaccinations as I understand them.
Well except when they are GMO produced vaccines, the NOSB is having a tough time with that one.
The money one saves by buying conventional over organic can be put into a Roth IRA. Such savings could easily amount to a couple thousand a year for a family of four. Such a rate of savings, compounded over 30 years or so years will produce a several hundred thousand sum. This would prevent poverty from striking you.
Poverty will remove far more years from your life and make what years you have much more miserable than any supposed health concerns from eating conventional.
YES! That’s true about poverty. Thanks for adding perspective!
I too am a coventional dairy farmer. This is a well researched article. The organics guidelines are ridiculous. I refuse to treat my cows worse than my children. If my children get sick, I want the best medicine for them. Same for my cows. Of course, all milk is discarded until the treatment is ended and antibiotic residue is eliminated. According to the organics standards, sick cows should be sent to a conventional farm to be nursed back to health. In Fla, our cows prefer barns with fans and misters in the summer rather than going outside. In the barns they are fed rations mostly of grass and waste products like citrus peels, spent brewers grains from beer manufacturing, and hominy from grits. All good dairymen want happy cows.
Hi Realbull, thanks for commenting! Love the love for your cows.
I think I’m the 2nd organic dairy farmer to make comment on here. Anyways I am organic dairy from South Dakota and I also farm with my younger brother.
I like to talk about the price difference between organic and conventional! I don’t know what everyone else on here that commented does for a job but we all like to get paid a fair wage for what we do right? Before we were ever organic wr use to be conventional dairy farmers. That said the conventional farmers milk price goes by a supply and demand market and so does the organic market to an extent. Dairy farmers get paid by hundred weights. Now the difference in price between organic and the conventional pay price is more then double that of the conventional market. We get paid about $35 for every 100 lbs of milk we produce and the conventional farmers get paid some where around $16.00 for 100 lbs they produce.
I can remember when we we’re still conventional and the milk price drop all the way down to $10.00 per 100 weight. That’s not a lot of money. Try making a living off of that! Can you imagine at your job not having any control over how much you got paid and no matter how much over time you put in you never got paid any extra for that! That’s what it’s like on the conventional market! Being organic has allowed us to keep our small family farm up and running.
At the end of the day the farmer still has to make a profit too!
So basically you are saying that Organic milk is a rip off..No difference in quality yet 2x more money.. Thanks for sharing.
Read my other comment hopefully that will answer your question about organic and milk quality.
“I don’t know what everyone else on here that commented does for a job but we all like to get paid a fair wage for what we do right?” —-so the conventional dairy farmers I support with my purchases aren’t working as hard as you, in turn?? Pardon my assumption, but that’s what it seems you are saying.
I mean no offense but dairy farming in general is more work then grain farming. I know some former dairy farmers who now grain farm and they said they would never go back to milking cows. It’s the thought of having milk cows every single day 365 days a year. The cows half to get milk at the same time in the morning everyday, even if we only get four or two hours of sleep at night. I’ve done that more than once. We don’t get holidays off and if we want to take a vacation we half find someone to milk our cows for us. I think all dairy farmers work hard, conventional or organic but with exception of managing the crops. Spraying for weeds is easier than having go out and cultivate them out.
I would also like to make a comment about the milk quality that we as organic dairy farmers strive for.
As an Organic dairy farmer milk quality is very important to us. The rule on our farm is if we wouldn’t drink our own milk then why would we expect anyone else to. We do monthly milk quality testing on our farm to see what cows have the highest somatic cell count . For those of you who do not know what somatic cell count is you can read here: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somatic_cell_count.
Yes somatic cells are basically pus, you know the stuff that comes out of pimples! Nobody in their right mind would drink pus! That’s why we test our cows for this & even use something called a CMT ( California mastitis test) paddle to test cows on a daily basis that we think could be high in scc. Last year we had a yearly average somatic cell count of 97,000 which is an excellent score in the dairy world. Any cow that does have a high scc has their quarter(s) milked out separately and does not go in with the good milk.
Also our milk is tested for Laboratory Pasteurized Count (LPC for short). This is very important! The higher the count the shorter the shelf life of the milk. I don’t know about you but sour milk is never pleasant tasting! You can read about LPC here: http://www.progressivedairy.com/dairy-basics/herd-health/5138-laboratory-pasteurized-count-reduction-procedures.
I’ve had several people tell me that the organic milk keeps longer in their refrigerators then conventional milk does.
As organic dairy farmers we feel very obligated to produce the highest quality milk that we can simply because we know the consumer is paying more for our milk and we want the consumer to get what they are paying for.
Organic milk keeps longer because it’s pasteurized differently. Organic milk very often uses UHT pasteurization (Ultra high temp). This kill much more of the bacteria & spores than does conventional pasteurization. However, it also changes the taste & the nutritional content of the milk.
Hi Jason, it is a common myth that organic milk is UHT pasteurized. We sell our milk to Organic Valley and they do UHT pasteurize some of their milk but the majority of it is not. You can read more about how Organic Valley pasteurizes their milk here:http://www.organicvalley.coop/products/milk/pasteurization/
I hope that answers your question.
Well the website on the link you provided states: “At Organic Valley, we use HTST pasteurization for all our regionally branded gallons and half-gallons of organic milk.”
That’s been my experience… that a lot of it is UHT pasteurized, but I don’t drink it often so I suppose that could have changed. But that would be the only reason that organic milk might have a longer shelf life.
Just because a dairy isn’t organic doesn’t mean they produce lower quality milk. Every dairy farmer cares about quality. We have a herd of 1250 cows and have averaged about 105,000 scc all winter. So size of dairy or conventional or organic, it all comes down to how a dairy is managed.
Hi Brian, I couldn’t agree with you more. Management
Our cows are producing around 76-78 lbs a day, with a 3.75 bf and 3.00 protein. All Holstein.
That’s pretty good for a herd your size. Right now our cows are averaging about 65 lbs per day with a avg scc of 133k and a butter fat of 3.97 & protein content of 3.97. Earlier this spring we cows averaging almost at 73 lbs per day.
Brian + Paul, curious, when you say that the way a dairy is managed affects the quality of milk, can you share a few examples of how this works?
Things like keeping cows clean. We have free stalls and bed with straw, so their udders are clean and dry. We test monthly, mostly to identify high scc cows. A repeat high test would indicate a possible chronic problem so they are likely sold. We use podometers on all cows. If a cows activity or milk conductivity changes every day we get a computer report that identifies these cows, along with identifying heats. These cows are physically checked for problems and treated accordingly. Making sure the equipment is functioning correctly all the time makes a difference. Checking vacuum levels, inflations, air tubes, monitoring milker procedure. Using proper milking methods, teat dips, cleaning of udders. Maintaining low stress on the cows. Proper dry cow treatment. Providing balanced rations effects health. All these things effect the quality of milk. Every dairy has their own method of how to accomplish basically the same things.
Good management on dairy farm is kind of like managing a business. On our farm we take many steps to do a good job managing it.
The first thing we do is to try and keep our milk cows healthy by feeding them a well balanced feed ration. We work we a nutritionist and based on the feed samples we provide for her, she then puts together a ration based on the nutritional content of the feed samples. Sick cows will lead to poor quality milk.
Secondly we try to keep a watchful eye on our cows incase one does get sick. Cows can get many illnesses. Mastitis, ketosis, milk fever, pneumonia etc.Timing is everything. The sooner we catch the sick cow and the sooner we treat them the sooner they get better.
We also do monthly milk quality testing where we take a small sample of each cows milk and send off to a lab where they do an analysis of it to find high somatic cell count cows. Then send us all the information so we can see If we have a high scc cow. If we do have a high scc cow we will treat that cow right away to help lower their high scc.
Basically just trying to stay on top of things and not doing a sloppy job helps us produce good quality milk.
Am just liking this discussion so much which ran across when researching what is in dry milk powder! Response to this post specifically is just a thought – learned recently that High Temperature Treatment makes organic milk much more shelf friendly – in Hawaii the only milk organic or not to be found is High Temperature processed. Read that actually, it is not publicized, so as to not ‘alarm’ consumers, but the organic milk available here could stay for several months unopened on a shelf. As it is, organic milk has long time-line sell by dates, I’ve noticed. So… in reading the above comment with appreciation it still came to me…. I wonder whether the longer lasting organic milk people appreciate might not be due to its high temperature processing. This milk some could say is really kind of ‘dead.’
This is not to criticize your operation! I am actually so edified reading about it.
I’ve always been a conventional consumer. Didn’t even discover the “organic” movement until I moved to Texas to date someone who bought into the woo. And when listening to her claims, none of them made any sense. Fortunately, before we broke up, I taught her to save her money instead of buying into the marketing.
Biomagnification aside, buying organic milk supports organic agriculture. All the feed and pastures have to be organic. Animal food crops are a big chunk of our total agriculture production, and has the potential for big change.
Not really relevant with modern herbicides and insecticides, they all break down and do not bio accumulate.
Organic milk comes from cows fed organic food and grazed on organic pastures
Not all the time.
fed crops potentially treated with pesticides
Organic farmers also use pesticides.
When animals consume chemicals they are stored away in their fat cells
First of all, all food is chemicals. And all modern pesticides breakdown in nature and do not bio accumulate in fat or anywhere else. Well except for a couple of Organic pesticides, based on copper and sulfur.
in the milk from vegetarian mother, while levels of both substances were 300 x higher than permissible for sale in the milk of meat eating mothers
I highly doubt this finding, considering one DDT levels are almost undeductible in breast milk for last few years and you can still get DDT from fruits and veggies.
Taking into account that animal food crops are not as heavily regulated for chemical residue as crops raised for direct human consumption
They are regulated as well, and the animal products are tested as well.
For me, what is more important is the temperature at which they pasteurize the milk, and if it is homogenized. If you are looking for the healthiest option, I would suggest looking at non-homogenized milk that is pasteurized at a lower temperature. I will say, most brands that do not homogenized their milk are also organic.
I currently work in a Large Animal veterinary hospital but have a degree in Dairy Management and have worked on several dairies. I am very proud to see an article so well written and informed. Dairy farmers work very hard for so little and to provide for so many.
I did want to add a fun fact about bst (Bovine somatotropin) since you did mention it earlier in your article. During World War II, in an effort to increase food production, two British scientists (Folley and Young) along with their colleagues began studying the effects of Growth hormone on cattle and goats. They found the bst could become profitable for farmers and that it could stimulate the national milk supply. Bst was originally created to help produce more milk in a country that was in need of more food during a war. (Source: Lactation and the mammary gland by R. Micheal Akers p. 181-182.)
This is something many people don’t know about and often when hearing bst, start to think it was created to increase milk yield but not for the common good. However those who did find it, utilize it and create a supply had every good intention in it. It helped them through the war.
Samantha, this is great! Thanks for letting us know about how bst came to be!
Would any of the farmers commenting here care to share the price they are paid per gallon of milk? After transport costs are taken out? Whether conventional or organic, I think most consumers would be suprised to understand who they are actually paying when they purchase milk.
I know this is a health centered blog, but consumer decisions are rarely based purely on nutrition motives. Who wouldn’t want to use their milk money to buy other things?
This is a great article! I love it when people do the research needed to make an informed decision instead of just listening to the media hype. Especially since most of the media has the agenda of getting more viewings so they often times use statistics that look bad but in reality as you put
Why are the expiration dates so much longer on organic milk?
The expiration dates have nothing to do with it being organic or conventional. Milk is pasteurized different ways that can extend the shelf life. The longest method is called ultra pasteurized.
Jen_Millican, anyone reading this can easily doubt your credibility as every post you make contains biased blanket statements. Organic dairy farmers aren’t concerned only with their milk, but also with environmental conservation. You probably don’t know much about anything, so I would advise that you do some research before typing your “words of wisdom” across the Internet and making yourself look like a fool. Many dairy cows are branded. Not all cows have state of the art RFID tags. I have never met a single dairy farmer, organic or conventional, in my 20 years of experience that use any sort of pain mitigation when dehorning. I have been on hundreds of dairy farms that graze their cattle in the summer months, both organic and conventional, and their milk position sky rockets as a result. There are plenty of people that support PETA, otherwise it wouldn’t exist. Again, do your research before making such ridiculous statements.
Hi Matt, thanks for adding your perspective. However, we’re not here to be rude to each other. We’re here to have a productive conversation. Rude or attacking comments will be deleted and this comment is borderline. So critical is ok, rude is not.
article is complete garbage … did you get any money from the dairy industry to write this ?
I’m sorry, but that was a lazy, superficial comment. One of the things I like about this site is how civil and intelligent the comments are, generally devoid of comments like yours that serve no purpose other than to poison the air. But, I guess when all you got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Very disappointing. But I do thank you for this, the author comes off as more reasonable and informed in comparison, the opposite of what you intended, I’m sure.
Another amazing piece. Keep up the great work Maria!
You have 1200 cows. Why aren’t you drinking your own milk? not sure how you got milk for $1.97 when the f.o. for the southwest was about $15/cwt.
What about food that feed that has been grown with pesticides? How about GMOs? What about homonization? If we can’t buy raw our next choise is a brand that is 100% grass fed, non homonigized, and low temp batch pasteurized.
i avoid organic as much as possible, i don’t want to waste my $ if there is a regular alternative, and actually i need non-lactose milk and i don’t know of any that is organic, nor do i care to find out. big organic is a hype and they’re using the word ‘organic’ all wrong anyway…
I have only been to your site a few times, but each time, I have been extremely impressed with your responsible approach.
I actually do believe that folks that choose to dairy by organic standards are almost universally motivated by a desire to provide a quality product or out of personal rejection of the capitol and technology intensive ways of going about things. But, I reject the notion that organic growers have a monopoly on virtue. I have yet to meet a conventional farmer who is not also conscientious, and every bit as committed to the safety and quality of the product and animal welfare.
Most of us are not farmers, we are forced to depend on the competence and ethics of distant suppliers of food separated by several layers of the delivery chain. We can’t directly control what is offered to us in the grocery store and that sense of dependence is unnerving. Too often, there are those who take advantage of apprehensions and give the consumer a sense of empowerment by dividing the world into right and wrong, good vs. evil, safe vs. contaminated, etc. In my view their are several societal values and consumer expectations that come into play, and each way of doing things has pros and cons in how well these values and consumer expectations are met. I think either organic or conventional provides a nutritious and safe product, there may be some minor tradeoffs, but the choice is not as stark as one is nutritious, safe and pure and one is devoid of nutrition, full of hazards and contaminants. On a scale of 1 – 10, we are fortunate that virtually all farms, organic or conventional, fall in the 8-10 range, maybe even the 9-10 range, and it would be hard for consumers to go wrong. As far as animal welfare, again it is probably not which is better or not, it is more that there are animal welfare tradeoffs with any method of husbandry, some gains, some compromises. Is a grass fed animal better off than one that is given concentrates in its diet? Perhaps in some ways, perhaps not in others. Is organic better environmentally — by some measures of environmental virtue, yes, by others no.
It is so nice to see an article that is not predetermined by ideology, written only to condemn. It is easy to be popular by jumping on the anti-corporate bandwagon. It is not always popular to be responsible. And I am impressed with the quality of comments, civil, respectful and informative.
While in general I think you have posted a very informative and fact-filled column, I think one point of clarification is needed. You are discussing hormones in cattle as if they are all the same, when in fact there two different types of hormones used. In dairy cattle, some farmers use rBGH ( also called BST) to increase milk production. BGH is a protein hormone, and as such, is broken down into its constituent amino acids in the digestive system and has no effect on humans that consume it. Insulin is also a protein hormone, and that is why it must be injected rather than taken orally. On the other hand, beef cattle may receive hormone implants to boost their growth, and those hormones are a estrogen-like hormone that is not broken down the same way by the body ( which is why oral contraceptives work…). This is what I was taught in veterinary school, so I hope you will take my word on it! Thanks for all of the great information.
I realize (and have for quite ablong time) that the pharmacuticals used in farming are not harmful to the consummer but I have a question about the environmental impacts of profilactic antibiotics and hormones in dairy and beef farming. How much residue gets into the soil, ground water and streams? How does this affect bacteria evolution and wildlife populations. This I think is the greater concern. What have you learned on this front?
Are country people happier than city people? Jen M said it quite well below but the assumption that organic dairy cattle are happier than their non-organic counterparts based on pasture time is inaccurate at best. Cattle will generally chose shade over pasture on any hot day and once you add in fans & water misters it’s no contest. It’s similar in the winter- cows are smart enough to prefer shelter from the elements when given a choice. Thanks for opening eyes Maria!!
Excellent article love it, when it comes down to it it’s not about organic or non organic it’s about a quality product and buying locally from trusted farmers and farmers market I find is the best. Organic is just a over hyped marketing term.
This article never mentioned the practices of factory farming. The conventional milk on your supermarket shelf likely came from a factory farm. There are loads of questionable ethics surrounding factory farms. I buy local non organic milk and I know the farming practices. However, I would rather buy pasture raised, local organic milk. And what about gmo feed that has been doused in glyphosate? Also, pasture raised dairy milk contains more dhea in addition to the omega 3s (which are anti inflammatory). There is so much factual assumption and missing information from this article.
Unfortunately this article doesn’t mention the real reasons why one might prefer to eat organic produce. Some people prefer to avoid the risk of ingesting the residues of chemical fertilizers and synthetic pesticides. Not that I eat organic but let’s not try to mislead
Conventional farming practices are not always “unsustainable” or “cruel” that’s right but you have no guarantee unless you know where and how they are produced. I wish there was a globally recognized and enforced system of labeling non-organic sustainable produce but there’s not. If you care about the animals access to pasture, 120 days is quite alot, of course year round would be ideal but in many areas (e.g. where soil water holding capacity is poor) fields can only produce viable pasture for part of the year. Many intensive non-organic farms NEVER let their dairy onto pasture.
Milk and beef/lamb are arguably some of the most important products to buy organic. Organic dairy tend to be fed higher quantities of grass because grass is a productive organic crop because it supports the use of nitrogen fixating clover which replaces the need for inorganic N fertilizer. Therefore organic is supporting grasslands. AND supporting grasslands is EXTREMELY important for protecting the environment, whether it be biodiversity, climate change or water quality.
In terms of antibiotics. We need to take radical steps to reduce anti-biotic resistance , we are on the verge of a pandemic, I think the last anti-biotic we have successfully taken to market was in the 1980’s. Check the link below and tell me we should keep pumping intensively reared animals with anti-biotics.
Research isn’t always accurate or honest depending on what lobby groups are involved. And it is always better to let the immune system overcome an illness instead of antibiotics if possible as that’s what makes our immune systems stronger !
I think I’ll stick with organic, if you think about logically it just makes sense. Humans need to stop messing with nature. For starters it’s more complex than we understand. I think it’s cruel to give cows extra growth hormone to make them produce more milk. There glands become so engorged it must be painful (I’ve breastfeed 2 babies).
Nope organic is the best option.
useless article most likely paid by agribusiness
Maria, have you never heard of recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), a genetically engineered hormone manufactured by Monsanto? I suggest you go have a read at https://www.organicconsumers.org/categories/rbgh.
The FDA are part owners of some of these farms. So using what the FDA says is laughable. Its all about money open your eyes. Poison yourself and your family. The USDA regulates “organic” they are part of these same farms.. So can’t trust “organic” either. Good luck
It’s not always about antibiotics.
More than twenty years ago, my mother found some Israeli research which linked Lindane with breast cancer. As Lindane was routinely used to kill ticks, and residues were found in the milk: and because there’s a lot of BC in the family, I stopped buying dairy products that weren’t organically produced. I still buy exclusively organic dairy produce, and am happy to reduce my intake of weedkiller and pesticides.
I appreciate this article. Organic is the market. Sustainability is the ethic.
Define sustainable? My personal definition includes the “7th generations” safety test.
Science changes all the time, new information, long term issues vs short term issues, larger population issues vs personal needs and choice issues.
It’s not an either /or argument. It is a dangerous precedence to take a stance that supports the elimination of either organics or conventional a trap we are often asked to fall into. Having a strong organic market assures the potential for more safety for the generations to come. Drink processed organic or processed conventional milk? It is a valid choice to choose either way depending on your reasons.
For our reason we choose to farm and market organic because we can, and in an area that places us side by side with many conventional farming families we care about and deeply respect. We admire many of their farming practices and disagree with a very few. The few reasons (ie. personal as noted below example and global concerns as in 7th generation ethics) are important reasons to us both because of our global concerns and our personal concerns.
Here below is a personal concern:
“Q.What about pesticides? Is there a health benefit to eating foods grown without them?
A.Organic produce has lower levels of pesticide residue than conventional fruits and vegetables. That said, almost all produce, whether it’s organic or conventional, already contains less pesticide residue than the maximum allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency. It then becomes of a question of whether you are comfortable with the E.P.A. standards. Charles Benbrook, who worked as the chief scientist for the Organic Center before moving to Washington State University last month, said the benefits of organic food, in terms of pesticide exposure, would be greatest for pregnant women, for young children and for older people with chronic health problems. He cites research that looked at blood pesticide levels of pregnant women and then followed their children for several years. The studies found that women with the highest pesticide levels during pregnancy gave birth to children who later tested 4 to 7 percent lower on I.Q. tests compared with their elementary school peers.”
So then it would follow that organic meat is also a waste of money. Unless specific cuts retain enough chemicals to impact health.
“Even vitamin C is bad if taken in big quantities.” Sources?
(Because from what I’ve researched, megadoses of vitamin C can actually be very beneficial. Only some vitamins are toxic at large quantities.)
“But is this a good reason to buy something that offers no value? Just because you can?”
Sometimes, yes. We vote with our wallets. And organic isn’t only about what goes into your body, but also what goes into the environment. Organic farming is also more sustainable. (the organic dairy cow’s food comes from organic vegetable sources)
I can never actually drink regular milk because I don’t like milk in general, that’s why everytime I drink regular milk, whether it’s one sip or a cup, I imediately spit it out. The only milk that I can ever actually drink is organic milk?
agree with Jen_Millican to a point. Dairy farmers take very well care of the cattle they raise. cattle are raised on varying some on pasture with feeds naturally grown. some are fed exotic feeds… some even are fed by product feeds from other grain industries like beer and spirits…. when dairy bull calves are converted to steers yes testicles are humanely removed to prevent agressiveness and prevent off flavoring of the meat produced. many steers are provided grazing and some or feedlot raised. to add to what miss Jen mentioned not all dairy cows have RFID anything to their ears, horn buds are removed humanly long before the animal is even past a few weeks old to prevent pain and stress to the animals… for the reasons she mentioned. I lived in a colder climate then ms. Jen our cattle were on pasture most of the time except when adverse freezing cold months hit… for this the cows were not only allowed into the free stall barn but sometimes even kept in the main barn to keep water lines from freezing and their general welfare… a dairy cow that is full grown produces 5000 BTU of heat to keep the barn even when -20 outside a moderated 35 degrees inside the barn wind free environment. this goes for both organic and non organic farms… Fashion Urbia that is why antibiotics should never be given to no sick animals,, again you are trying to falsly label all farmers by the actions of a very minute minority and this is rapidly diminishing in those industries
Milk is garbage and BAD for you. It’s fairly recent a small bunch of humans began drinking breast milk from other species. It was only for survival and let’s face it, the majority of people can’t stomach milk and even if you think you can, you don’t. Cow’s milk is full of hormones as the cow is always pregnant and giving generous amounts of estrogen – remember “Moobs: man boobs”? Drinking milk, from an evolutionary standpoint, is as ridiculous (and perverse) as a grown man asking a woman for her breast milk. And sorry to say that but people drinking cow’s milk don’t know much what’s going behind the scene. I’ve seen it all. From dumping wrapped candy as feed, powdered bird feces, oozing pus, cows trembling and bleeding from the nostrils and eyes, and of course, the daily dose of antibiotics. The author of this article knows a sh*t about the dairy industry. Once you work really inside, you know in what you got into. Got Milk? Got Sh*t and Cancer! Stay away from milk and see it for what it really is: white, cancerous pus liquid full of hormones, antibiotics and God knows what other sh*t. Oh, have you tried cockroach powder? Flour derived from cockroaches made it to the list of cow feeds. Here’s an article that talks about plans using cockroach powder as feed https://goo.gl/jvVFYO However, the fact is it’s already practice but the dairy industry, of course, won’t tell. Otherwise, it has to change the slogan to “Got Milk? Got Roaches! On the other hand, fresh roaches maybe better than putrid roadkill and carcasses as cow’s feed. So, if you still drink your glass of milk after reading this and having done serious research, then you should also try soylent green.
What a collection of hocum. I am sorry you seem so credulous and susceptible to indoctrination. Do you have any way of filtering information? I hope critically-thinking people can readily see what you have thoughtlessly offered as the inflammatory nonesense it is.
Although I consume conventional milk, but I would not take a word on this paid article seriously. Milk us difficult to digest, make your choice by trial and error. Read your milk labels. Many milk brands don’t pack fresh milk but reconstituted versions; they are only going to be harder for you digestive system to break down. So organic is safer option if they are in your budget.
Thank you for your in depth research, as I have been switching back and forth between organic and conventional for years and have not been able to make up my mind. Two questions I do have left, is about pesticides in the cows feed or pesticide residue in their milk. Also, have you found anything on study’s of human levels, especially children, of heightened reside levels from hormones, pesticides, from drinking milk, especially from cows that eat corn and soy? Thank you!
love it! im glad to read an article that doesn’t just agree with the mainstream view of dairy and actually uses proper scientific evidence to back up views. Glad to be saving money on milk too haha! Great article! x
Glad you found it helpful!
It so painfully obvious that This article is totally written by somebody who has a lot to lose because many consumers are starting to get educated about how harmful non organic milk and food is. And the people who agree with it are farmers who also have a lot to lose. When I was a kid 55 years ago, the only cancer that you ever heard about was lung cancer from smoking. Now days there is I don’t know how many different cancers caused by things put into our food and drinks. Thanks but no thanks, I’ll stick with organic.
I am a good person.I saw Nepal, I comment. Yayyy !!.
That’s quite interesting and thank you for your opinion.
From Nepal. Rina
Just a thought why as an adult drink milk at all? Were we really meant to drink milk from another animal? Milk in all animals is meant for their young in order to quickly and naturally grow/fatten them and make them healthy and strong. We have bastardised other animals milk meant for their young. And as for antibiotics, I cannot believe the naivety or ignorance of some of the posters here. We have overused antibiotics for the last 50 plus years, the net result is that they are losing their effectiveness and in some cases do not work. Yes use antibiotics when REALLY needed (normally when seriously sick and/or old) but not as a regular quick fix as we are now doing. In the comfort zone of the our first world west we have created humans that are getting fatter and dependent on prescription drugs including anti-biotics handed out like confetti, it has become a vicious circle. This is a huge industry which has only one thing on its agenda… profit. The ethical side of both farming and medicine is being obliterated in the chase of big bucks and greed. I have no doubt the organic ‘industry’ is flawed as well and there are arguments in this arena that can at times debunk some of the claims and marketing techniques of this industry, an industry which is morphing with the same objectives as the non-organic side namely profit, the bigger the better. It all needs a big re-think, sustainability, local sourcing, correct diet, natural nutrition, food moderation and natural movement like walking needs to replace us sitting on our arses in cars whilst munching mass produced hamburgers, chips and supping milkshakes in order to keep us healthy as human animals, which is ultimately what we are.
Conventional raised cows are fed GMO feed. And the conventional cow’s feed is sprayed and treated with pesticides that is not present in organic feed. For these two reasons alone I choose Organic.
As to the happy cow angle and antibiotics, if your child was sick and needed antibiotics to get well, would you with hold the antibiotics? Would your child be happier with or without the antibiotics? If a cow is sick and needs the antibiotics to get well, a humane farmer would give their cow antibiotics, and I am assuming a healthy cow is a happy cow. The milk from the cow given the antibiotics has to be dumped anyway, so farmers don’t just go giving out antibiotics willy nilly, because they will lose money (antibiotics and dumped milk get expensive).
The thing about buying any product is checking the source, local is usually better but as far as milk goes I must buy organic because this ensures no gmos 99.9% of the time if you buy conventional milk you may be drinking milk from a cow who ate gmo feed. Best thing like I said locate the source, call them do your research and make sure it is a clean pure product with no gmo, pesticides or anything else alarming… lol 😉
I have noticed i am gaining weight ever since i switched to organic milk. I made the switch about Dec /jan last year into this one and im buying reduced fat organic but i have been picking up weight rapidly. Nothing else has changed in my diet and i know im not eating alot of fatty foods….the only thing i can question is my milk switch from conventional to orgsnic. Thanks after reading thos article im getting convinced to go back to conventional milk.
Just read the Book Don’t drink your milk, by Frank Oski – Was the Director of John Hopkins University School of Medicine. I have read this book and recommend it so highly, especially when used with Health through God’s Pharmacy, by Maria Treben. It is a full book of testimonials of people, who have cured themselves through the use of herbs. The Gold Coast Library had the book, Health through God’s Pharmacy many years ago. I have bought my whole family this book and keep recommending it to every one. I have used many of the herbs myself and they really work with love and patience.
One comparison should also be shelf life. If you aren’t using a gallon a week like the girl above, then you can save money, even tho it’s more expensive, because organic milk can last over a month longer before going bad.
Regular milk actually makes me severely sick and gives me horrible nausea. Organic milk does not.
When I drink organic milk I never feel sick. Organic milk smells better, tastes better and has a better consistency.
I can’t find why I have horrible reactions to regular milk almost as if I’m severely allergic to something in it, but organic gives me no issues at all.
I believe the differences in practice between Organic Milk and Regular Milk create a noticeable taste difference between the two products. Although the author goes into detail about the practice of not treating the cows with antibiotics, and seems to imply that there is in fact no difference between the products, that is misleading. My family has a home in Canada so I’m pretty familiar with the products there, but if you’ve ever traveled there or to Europe, you might find you prefer the milk, butter, or other dairy products. When I was a kid I’d go crazy over the milk, later on my brother would bring back the butter. Years later, when I read an article about the “mucus” in your milk, it clicked: Europe has the highest standards, Canada next, America the lowest. When cows get an infection from being milked constantly, the farmer gives them antibiotics. The “mucus” that they monitor is the detectable result of the infection: the antibodies that the cow released to fight off the bacteria. The “mucus” must water down the milk and alter the taste, because milk from Canada always tasted creamier, better. Organic milk in the USA tastes more like what milk is supposed to taste like. Further, the author plays down that the cows for organic milk are required to be grass fed, resulting in a higher Omega-3 content, comparing the Omega-3’s in milk to those in fish. However, not only is grass feeding healthier for the cow, but what the cow eats gets passed on to us in the form of more Omega-3’s and other nutrients, versus corn feed which requires petroleum fertilizer to grow and is high in calories. Sure, salmon has *more* omega-3’s, but milk is a staple whereas salmon should be limited due to possible mercury content. If you use grass fed butter, drink grass fed milk, eat grass fed beef, and consume wild salmon, you’re a whole lot better off than if you continue to consume corn in every meal, either primarily, a by-product of, or secondarily by way of the animal you eat. The difference in Omega-3 content is substantial and it is in fact a healthier choice, a bonus to my original point which is that it tastes much, much better.
Lots of very good observations. I’ve never been completely organic and whole foods because organic whole foods, especially premade items like yogurts or butters tend to be more calorically Rich than what I would normally buy. But the points you make about the animals and birth control alone were A++. I was just thinking tonight about how much hormone is actually in the stuff and I found this. Consumers don’t usually get the details because it will make you think twice. If I were wealthy Id get all organic because I believe everything is structured specifically and has specific energy that would effect us, even to nano milligrams. But for everyone else. If you have to choose between buying all organic or putting some money in a business or project you probably are better off investing elsewhere. Atleast until the FDA makes it known more about the labels and pasteurization standards. Great work!
We use dairy VERY sparingly. Check out the research here https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/dairy/
I LOVE milk, and drink it constantly, going through three gallons a week. BUT, while we just would toss up our hands and throw out nasty tasting milk when about 1 in ten gallons tasted sourish, lately our non-organic was tasting sour at least half the time. Poor pasteurization or handling is the culprit, but it ended up costing us as much in tossed out milk as just caving in and buying organic. I miss regular milk prices getting us good enough milk. What gives in 2017? Why is this happening?
Good to read but there’s the side of considering the source for the information: the FDA which cannot be trusted and actively sides with certain groups over others in areas other than milk. It is a paid informant. Anyway…. I’m inclined more toward your view than formerly after research during which this article turned up !
You might want to DITCH from pasteurized milk to raw milk
A crap article. In the UK normal milk today was £1.10 while organic was £1.26 for the same volume.
I will buy organic.
My issue is not with Rbst since that’s not used a lot on the milk in CA at least, nor antibiotics since that is presumably minimal, but with these reproduction hormones and what amount is actually present, is milk tested for it, and what can this do to humans if anything? They are: prostaglandin, gonadotropin releasing hormone and progesterone.
I buy organic 1% milk because it tastes milkier. If there are any other benefits, that’s great. If not, I’m getting better-tasting milk.
USA regulations about organically produced food do seem unusual, at least compared to where I come from (Aus). Our regulations are about sustainability (e.g. soil, water, air) and animal welfare: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/aqis/exporting/food/organic/national-standard-edition-3-6.pdf
I’m no expert on US organic regulations, but what I have read appears to be a mish-mash with no overarching principles. I guess this was the result of lobbying by interest groups. Is there also a bio-dynamic standard? In Aus, the BD standard is organic+. Just wondering if buying BD would give you a more genuine organic product.
Also, the focus of the article appears to be on the health value of the output products. There are other reasons to buy organic/BD, including sustainability and animal welfare. Again, I don’t know your regulations well enough to know whether those are considered in your organic standards.
Happy to say that I was never taken in by this scam. If I have ever bought organic milk, it was because it was all the store had.
I do not trust the safe levels of hormones and antibiotics that FDA set. I recently switched to organic milk because I did not want to intake any hormones or antibiotics at all.
I have been using Farm Fresh Milk ( organic milk) and still i dint faced any issues with it, well I don’t mind using pasteurized milk but I don’t have any reason of switching it. Organic milk is healthy, Its fresh as compared to other so taste is also good.
You ditched organic milk, but I still prefer to buy a organic milk. I think quality of any type of milk mostly depends on the source from where you are buying. I think need to find the right one. Also, the effectiveness of milk on health depends on the correct way of boiling the milk.
Organic 2% Milk last longer than regular 2% milk? Why?
Organic 2% milk taste better than 2% regular milk? Why?
Conventional or regular milk is produced on a commercial level that includes chemicals, preservatives, and antibiotics. Mostly, the fodder for these farm animals supplied with growth infusers and antibiotics to increase milk production. And the residues of the preservatives and fertilizers in the fodder affects the quality and taste of the regular milk.
Well written post on organic vs regular milk
120 days guaranteed outside, in the fresh air vs never going outside? End of discussion right there, if you cared about the animals well being.
Laws in Canada are way different than the US. No cows, organic or regular contain any growth hormone. It is illegal in Canada. If a cow requires antibiotics, they are not milked for a time. ‘Organic’ cows are taken off for a longer period of time. Organic dairy producers feed their animals with crops grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and they are treated more humanely than non-organic cows, which is why the milk is more expensive. It is a personal choice. I live alone and don’t drink much milk so I support the organic. Another thing I find is it keeps in the fridge longer in than regular milk.
i buy organic milk and eggs only becuase i feel its nicer for the cows to eat food that is more natural, no other reason why
Thanks for the article. I just started using organic milk. But I have learned from Cornucopia that not all organic milk is equal. To buy the ‘good’ stuff would be 5.98/half gallon!!! No way. Then I read your article. Oh well, back to the regular stuff. Like you said, no use paying more money for few benefits.
These things may be true but these are true as well.
Organic last nearly 2 months refrigerated while non organic spoils in 2 weeks.
Organic milk is heavier creamier and has a wonderful flavor.
Non organic has nowhere near the flavor texture of organic. Period.
Exactly what i came here to say. Organic milk may not be ‘better’ than non-organic milk in most regards, but if you are someone who tastes flavors strongly, then there is no comparison. Organic milk is sweeter, richer, and creamier. And yes, I like that it has such a long shelf life (even though I go through a gallon at least once a week). I don’t know of any non-organic milk (other than maybe Parmalat) that is sterilized at 280 degrees for two minutes.