I find it disturbing that there are people who are working really hard to prevent the truth about the dairy industry from getting out. There are people who say there is no difference between conventional dairy and organic dairy. There are people who say that drinking milk does a body good, no matter what kind you buy. And there are people who say there’s no difference if the cow ate GMOs, grass or grain. I personally like to know the truth about what I am eating. That is why I spend so much time researching the facts about our food system and why I have dedicated my life sharing the information I uncover. I know many of you are buying dairy products (billions of gallons are sold every year), and feel it is crucial you know the main reasons why to only choose organic milk if you do choose to consume dairy. These guidelines apply to all dairy products, like butter, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and whey protein. It is shoved into our minds since infancy that “Milk Does A Body Good” and that we need 3 big glasses a day for calcium and strong bones. But, is that really the case?
7 Reasons To Choose Only Organic Dairy Products:
1. To avoid ingesting growth hormones that are banned in over 30 countries.
Some big conventional dairies in the U.S. are still injecting their cows with synthetic growth hormones (invented by Monsanto) to increase milk production, despite evidence that it may lead to higher levels of the cancer-causing hormone IGF-1 in our bodies. Growth hormones have also been shown to cause mastitis in cows (udder infection), requiring the use of antibiotics. The Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare in the European Union reported that growth hormones cause foot problems, mastitis, and reproductive disorders in cows, and concluded that hormones should not be used. These hormones are banned in Europe, Norway, Switzerland, New Zealand, Japan, and Canada, and the Cancer Prevention Coalition filed a petition with the FDA requesting a ban of them in the U.S., but the FDA has done absolutely nothing.
Why Organic Is Better: Growth hormones aren’t permitted to be given to cows that produce organic milk. (source: USDA)
2. To curb the overuse of antibiotics, which is causing a health crisis.
Can you believe that almost all of the antibiotics in the U.S. (about 80%) are fed to farm animals? And, this isn’t because the animals are sick. Many conventional farmers feed their animals constant low levels of antibiotics just to fatten them up. Dairy cows are commonly given antibiotics to treat mastitis (udder infections), and conventionally raised cows are more likely to get these infections than organically grown cows, especially when they are given growth hormones. This mass overuse of antibiotics in farm animals is contributing to increased antibiotic resistance, and creating a major human health crisis. The World Health Organization warns that the “overuse and misuse of antibiotics in food animals” is a major source of the antibiotic-resistant bacteria that’s affecting humans, leading to infections that are difficult to treat and sometimes impossible to cure. According to Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, Director of the CDC, “If we don’t act now, our medicine cabinet will be empty and we won’t have the antibiotics we need to save lives.”
Why Organic Is Better: Organically grown cows are less likely to get mastitis. Antibiotics are not given to healthy cows that produce organic milk. If an organic cow gets sick and needs antibiotics, it receives this treatment and is removed from organic production, so it’s milk will not be sold as organic. The regulations require that sick cows are not denied treatment. (source: USDA)
3. To stop funding pro-GMO anti-labeling campaigns.
Every time you buy a carton of conventional milk you are helping to line the pockets of biotech companies – which is why I call conventional milk “Monsanto Milk”. A whopping 90% of all genetically modified (GMO) soybeans are fed to farm animals. The major biotech companies (Monsanto, DuPont, Dow) are spending record-breaking amounts of money to deny our right to know if GMOs are in our food, and any time that you buy a product that was produced with GMOs you are helping to fund their campaigns. I believe that buying Monsanto Milk is no different than buying a box of GMO General Mills Corn Chex (another company funding anti-labeling campaigns).
Why Organic Is Better: Cows that produce organic milk only eat 100% organic food, which prohibits GMOs. (source: USDA)
4. To protect the health of cows.
Most dairy cows live their lives on a GMO diet, which isn’t healthy for them. Animal studies (not funded by the biotech companies) have shown that GMO feed damages intestines and peripheral immune systems, and can cause reproductive problems and tumors. Farmers that have switched to non-GMO animal feed are reporting that their animals are healthier and that grass-fed cows are the healthiest overall, requiring less drugs to treat disease. A cow’s gut is best suited for a grass diet, and starchy grain diets upset their stomachs by making it acidic. This acidic environment fosters the growth of disease and animals are given more drugs to compensate. As put by Michael Pollan, “A corn diet can also give a cow acidosis… causing a kind of bovine heartburn, which in some cases can kill the animal but usually just makes it sick. Acidotic animals go off their feed, pant and salivate excessively, paw at their bellies and eat dirt. The condition can lead to diarrhea, ulcers, bloat, liver disease and a general weakening of the immune system that leaves the animal vulnerable to everything from pneumonia to feedlot polio”.
Why Organic Is Better: Cows that produce organic milk only eat 100% organic food, which prohibits GMOs, synthetic pesticides, plastic pellets for roughage, and by-products from slaughter houses. Organic cows are also required to graze on organic pastures for the entire grazing season (at least 120 days a year) and to receive at least 30% of its feed from the pasture. (sources: USDA and Organic Trade Association). Some organic dairies feed their cows 100% grass, and all you need to do is ask them to find out!
5. To contribute to a healthier environment.
Grassy pastures are better for the topsoil than GMO crops like soy and corn. These GMO crops have shallow roots that are depleting topsoil faster than the earth can replenish it. Grass often has deep roots (10 feet deep), which help to draw nutrients up into the topsoil. Cows raised in factory farms on a diet of mostly grains produce unmanageable amounts of manure that pollute water and air.
Why Organic Is Better: Grass-fed cows produce manure in amounts suitable for fertilizing the land. This improves the quality of our air and water, and when cows are fed grass you greatly reduce the transportation costs for feed. (source: Union of Concerned Scientists)
6. To avoid drinking herbicide and pesticide residues.
Conventional dairy cows are often fed crops that have been genetically engineered to resist the spraying of herbicides, and the use of these chemicals has gone way up in recent years. According to a report by Food & Water Watch, the total amount of Roundup applied to GMO crops increased 10 times from 1996 to 2012. Residues from these herbicides are ending up in our food, including the food of dairy cows. The primary ingredient in Roundup – glyphosate – has been found in the breast milk of lactating women. This suggests that the glyphosate eaten by cows also ends up in their milk. Recent research found glyphosate residues in the urine of GMO-fed cows and it’s been shown that drugs fed to dairy cows end up in their milk – yet I doubt that the industry is regularly testing milk for herbicide residues. If milk isn’t tested for glyphosate residues, it’s anyone’s guess how much of it ends up in the milk we drink from the store. Ingestion of glyphosate residues have been linked with kidney disease and shown to contribute to gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Why Organic Is Better: Synthetic pesticides and herbicides (such as Roundup) are prohibited on the 100% organic feed that cows graze on that produce organic milk. (source: USDA)
7. To get more nutrition.
You are what you eat, and most conventional cows aren’t fed diets that produce the healthiest milk. A diet of excessive amounts of corn leads to an unhealthy amount of omega-6 fatty acids, which carries over into their milk. It’s important to have a the proper balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, and most processed diets contain mostly omega-6 fatty acids throwing this ratio way off. Per Dr. Artemis Simopoulus, “excessive amounts of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and a very high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio… promote the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases”. Several studies have found healthier fat ratios in organic milk, as well as more antioxidants. Higher levels of beneficial fats like conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) have been shown to reduce body fat, and lessens your risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
Why Organic Is Better: Organically grown cows are required to graze on grasses at least 1/3 of the year, which improves the nutritional quality of their milk. Dairy products from grass-fed cows have been shown to have an improved omega-3 to omega-6 fat ratio, higher levels of beneficial fats such as CLA, and more antioxidants. (sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
How To Choose The Best Organic Milk
Some of the organic milk in the grocery store is ultra-high temperature pasteurized (aka “UHT”). You’ll find this labeled on the carton of milk, so it’s easy to spot. UHT milk has been so heavily heated that nearly all of the health benefits are lost – so why drink it? I believe that 100% grass-fed raw dairy is the best choice, if it’s available to you locally. Raw dairy products are “alive” and have all of their probiotics, vitamins and enzymes intact, including phosphatase, which is necessary to properly absorb the calcium in milk. You can find sources for raw milk on the Real Milk website. If you can’t get raw, look for the USDA organic symbol and grass-fed. If you don’t have grass-fed, go at least certified organic.
The best way to make sure that you are getting truly organic milk is to only buy directly from local dairies. It’s important to get to know local dairy farmers in your area and ask them questions until you find a dairy that you trust. You can find local grass-fed dairies on the Eat Wild database (not all listed are organic).
I personally eat dairy like a condiment.
I eat very limited dairy products because of health and environmental reasons, as well as, for the reasons mentioned above. When I do eat dairy, I always buy organic – no exceptions. When I go out to eat at restaurants that may not use organic or local dairy products I try my best to avoid them. It’s that simple.
A recent published paper written by Harvard pediatrician David Ludwig said that “humans have no nutritional requirement for animal milk”. You can get plenty of absorbable calcium from leafy greens, nuts, seeds and beans. The vitamin D in milk is only there because it’s fortified with it, so it’s no different than taking a vitamin supplement and vitamin D is naturally prevalent in salmon, egg yolks, hemp seeds, some mushrooms and of course sunlight – which is the best most efficient way to get it.
Please share this post with your conventional dairy eating friends and family!
Do you have family or friends still eating and buying conventional dairy products? Help them make the switch and share this post with them! If we vote with our dollars and choose organic over conventional we will have an everlasting impact on our health, our environment and for our future children.
P.S. I’m going to be sharing a major report on some popular dairy products soon. Please stay engaged and join us here to be the first to know!