Most all of us can agree that the dairy aisle at the supermarket is one of the most confusing areas of the store when it comes to choice, price and health. If you’re a dairy-free eater, you probably skim right past the cow’s milk options and head for plant-based options instead, like almond, coconut, or cashew milk, and maybe you enjoy soy yogurt and vegan cheeses too. But if you’re a milk drinker, and are certain that organic milk is a better option than conventional, then you might want to take a step back and listen up to this news: Organic milk really is no better for you than conventional, according to science anyway.
The Real Deal With Organic Cow’s Milk
Researchers have conducted over 200 studies to test the nutritional components in non-dairy milk and dairy-based milks, to find that while some nutrients may improve in organic milk, other important nutrients did not. What they found was that overall, whatever a cow is fed (organic or not) determines how healthy its milk is. In order for dairy milk to be labeled organic, the cows must not receive any antibiotics, growth hormones, and may only be given organic vitamins and mineral supplements if needed. And though they eat off pasture fields, many non-organic cows may also eat off pasture fields, regardless that they don’t carry the organic label.
Every cow’s diet is different, depending on the feed that is given to them, the way the cows are cared for, their specific diets, and if they receive additional supplementation or not. None of these are things you’ll be able to tell by picking up a jug of cow’s milk that’s labeled organic. And sure, while the package may say “no antibiotics or growth hormones” or even state that the milk comes from pasture-raised cows, what it doesn’t tell you is how cows are treated to produce that milk, if you’re getting the first milking from the cow or one of the many milkings a cows will give throughout their life, and what those cows endured in order to produce that milk.
What to Choose Instead of Cow’s Milk
And what we all need to remember is that just because a cow’s milk is labeled organic, does not mean that it’s any kinder than regular milk. It’s also not the only source of calcium, protein, and Vitamin D we have available to us. Researchers say that one reason cow’s milk is seen as a healthy food, is due to its high levels of omega 3 fats in the milk, which we know, is much easier to get in smaller, more economical and healthier ways, such as in foods like chia, flax, hemp, and walnuts. Even pumpkin seeds, butternut squash, and acai berry fruit have omega 3 fats. These foods also provide variable levels of protein, calcium, and thanks to foods such as miso, coconut kefir, coconut yogurt, and tempeh, we also have plant-based options to get our probiotics in place of dairy yogurt and kefir.
The more we support plant-based options with our dollars that profit farmers who grow these options, and quit buying milk that’s produced in a cruel manner (organic or not), the more the demand for dairy will go down.
So please, walk past that jug of organic milk that shouts at you that it’s the healthier option. How bout picking up one of those unsweetened cartons of almond, organic soy, cashew, hemp, rice, or coconut milk instead?
Lead Image Source: Liz West/Flickr