Authored by Jayant Row in Food and Cooking
Published on 04-07-2009
Organic milk is milk obtained from cows that have been fed pasture grass, and have also been brought up without being given any hormones or antibiotics during their life. The pasture grass that they feed on is also grown naturally without any pesticides or fertilizers, and the cows are sent out to pasture and not cooped up inside barns and the like.
Regular milk is obtained from cows that have been fed grain and are given hormones to increase milk production. The feed may be genetically modified (GM) and the feeding is done within barns. They stand around in small lots without much exercise.
Organic milk is much costlier than regular milk; because of the longer process involved and the absence of any medically induced milk production. The taste however varies a lot and organic milk tastes much better and can almost certainly convert you into an organic milk proponent once you have tasted it. This price differential could also be due to market forces and the laws of supply and demand.
Organic milk contains a higher quantity of vitamins and nutrients. It has 50% more Vitamin E, 75% higher beta carotene and three times the antioxidants that are contained in regular dairy milk. It is also said to contain Omega 3 essential fatty acids. This is because along with grass the cows also feed on naturally growing red clover that has a lot of Omega 3. However the quantity of Omega 3 is not all that much and a single meal of fish could give you the same amount of Omega 3 that organic milk would give you even if you drink it for one week.
Cows producing organic milk lead happy stress free lives as they are allowed to roam around and graze on grass at their own pace. Regular milk producers do not allow their cattle any freedom and always keep them cooped up in cowsheds. Organic milk producing cows are never given any bovine growth hormone (BGH) for increasing the production of milk. Organic milk has 500 % more CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) than milk from fodder fed cows. CLA increases the metabolic rate, increases immunity and reduces abdominal fat and cholesterol. However health standards ensure that cows which have been given any antibiotic is not allowed to contribute to the milk production for at least a couple of months. Regular testing is also done on the milk to see that no antibiotics are present in it.
Health standards require that all milk produced has to be pasteurized. This does diminish the benefits of organic milk, but renders the regular milk a little safer to drink. The production of organic milk is still only a very small percentage of the regular milk production, and this is not likely to change much because of the price differential. Milk in developing countries is more towards the organic type, more due to the economic conditions, where cows are just let out to graze because their owners are unable to buy farm feed due to their poverty.