The organic craze has left no grocery aisle untouched,
including the dairy case. In the first half of 2011, sales of organic
reduced-fat milk soared 18 percent compared to the same period last year,
according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dairy Market News.
Meanwhile, conventional milk sales slumped nearly 3 percent.
That made us wonder: Is organic milk worth the extra cash? (It’s roughly $3.88
per half gallon, or 57 percent more than a half-gallon of regular milk.)
There are differences between organic and conventional milk
production, but they may not have the benefits you think, says Thomas Overton,
Ph.D., associate professor of animal science at Cornell University. The
distinction between organic and conventional milk is really a tale of two
farms. Cows at organic dairies:
• Are fed only organic grains, free of synthetic fertilizers
and pesticides. • Get at least 30 percent of their feed from pasture. • Aren’t treated with antibiotics, or with bovine growth
hormone to increase milk production.
Many organic farms also treat the environment better as
well, because they have a greater respect for water resources and healthy
soils. But they don’t have to prove these eco-friendly practices to be
certified as organic.
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