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Wake Up America!

Benefits of Organic Milk Go Beyond Nutrition

Melinda Hemmelgarn, M.S., R.D.

Wake up America! Diet isn’t just about the calories and nutrients in food -- it’s a way of life. Think about it: our food choices not only affect our personal health, they also determine our landscape, and influence the global environment future generations will inherit from us.

In this sense, nutrition matters, but so does knowing the source of our food and how it was produced. We’ll want to choose foods produced with respect for the environment, and the animals and people who make each meal possible.

Safety and Quality:
Organic production methods make organic milk the superior choice

Make no mistake. The laws governing organic food production are the strictest in our nation. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires organic farmers to follow rigorous production rules, which are verified through annual inspections and certification. Only the organic label provides milk lovers with these guarantees.

For example, by law, all dairy cows raised for organic milk production can not be given antibiotics and synthetic growth hormones. Plus, organic dairy cows must be raised on 100%-certified organic feed. That includes grazing on certified organic pasture grown without herbicides, pesticides, or synthetic fertilizers. Organic feed may not come from genetically modified sources, either.

Several studies show clear nutritional benefits from eating organic diets in general, because of higher levels of protective anti-oxidants and lower levels of potentially harmful pesticide residues. The latter is of particular concern for children, pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Compared to conventional milk, organic milk has been shown to have higher amounts of specific health-promoting nutrients, such as vitamin E, beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.

An Organic Center report says milk from dairy cows on organic farms, particularly pasture-based operations, may also contain significantly higher levels of the beneficial fat, conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA. However, the difference in CLA levels between organic and conventional milk depends on time of year, and the quality and length of time on pasture.

These findings are not surprising. Organic food production works from the ground up, literally. Without the application of potentially harmful chemicals, organic soils are naturally healthier, richer sources of nutrient-dense, biological life. We would expect plants grown in organic soils, and the animals raised on organic feed would gain a nutritional advantage. More so, organic production methods contribute to a safer environment overall, protecting soil, water and human health for present and future generations.

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Word Power

The word "diet" comes from the ancient Greek “diaita” – which means “a way of life.”

Food for Thought

"The health of man, beast, plant and soil is one indivisible whole; the health of the soil depends on maintaining its biological balance and, starting with a truly fertile soil, the crops grown on it, the livestock fed on those crops and the humans fed on both have a standard of health and power of resisting disease and infection greatly in advance of anything ordinarily found in this country."
Lady Eve Balfour, The Living Soil, 1943

 

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