Milk and dairy in general deserve a lot of attention. This particular post will be somewhat of a living document as I gather information and develop the scope of my knowledge.
4 Topics I intend to cover before I consider this post “complete”:
1. Organic and Humane
2. Taste of Organic/Pasture Raised vs. Conventional
3. Goats Milk vs Cows
4. The Raw Debate and Aspartame Legislation
First thing’s first.
I watched the documentary “Vegucated” about 3 people who tried going vegan for 6 weeks. The creator of the documentary set about educating the volunteers as to why some choose to go vegan. As they learned, a lot of dairy farms practice very inhumane behaviors in treating their dairy cows. When a calf is born, for example, in factory style dairy farms, the newborn is immediately – and by immediately I mean fresh from the womb, still has birthing fluid on it, hasn’t even stood up yet, JUST landed on the Earth – taken away from its mother. It’s horrifying to see a mother cow try to follow her baby while its being taken away from her, only to then have its testicles ripped off and its face shoved in a box of corn, while she is then immediately re-inseminated in order to continue to produce massive quantities of milk.
I for a long time have refused to buy conventional milk. If I buy any dairy product of any kind, I opt for organic, pasture-raised, free-roaming brands of milk such as Organic Valley and Born Free. But, not easily fooled by marketing tactics, I had to find out if my beloved brands were holding true to their image. I sent Organic Valley an inquiry to find out, “Do newborn calves get to interact with/drink milk from their mother’s at all?”
Here is what they responded with:
Respectful treatment of animals is a central tenet of Organic Valley’s philosophy. One of the mission statement’s 7 goals is to “promote a respect for the diversity, dignity, and interdependence of human, animal, plant, soil, and global life.” In furtherance of this goal, Organic Valley has developed and mandated humane treatment standards that exceed those of the USDA’s organic requirements.
Our mission statement defines organic as a “philosophy and system of production that mirrors the natural laws of living organisms with an emphasis on the interdependence of all life.” In practice, this means that we follow the precautionary principle: we oppose both cloning and injecting bovine growth hormone, which harm animals; the foundation of all our livestock production is to minimize illness by providing low-stress environments, promoting robust immune systems, practicing preventive medicine, and using natural remedies as needed. Our farmer members can rely on some of the nation’s foremost holistic animal husbandry experts who are affiliated with the cooperative.
There are several different calf-care management techniques that may be utilized by our farmers. Some Organic Valley farmers leave the newborn calves with the mother to naturally nurse for 3-4 days. After this period of time the calves are started on bottle feedings. They still receive mother’s milk for 1-2 weeks via bottle and then they are switched over to pail feedings, where they will continue to receive milk until they are weaned. These calves will be initially kept in individual housing then they are often moved into a group with other calves of the same age. Some of our farmers will leave the calf with its mother or a “nurse cow” until the calf is weaned. The time periods will vary depending on the management technique of each individual farmer and, to some extent, the time of
year and region of the farm. All of our farmers are required to feed whole organic milk. They are restricted from using milk replacer.
I can now comfortably and confidently continue to buy Organic Valley milk, cheese, cream and yogurt. I’ll have to email Born Free to make sure they’re holding up their end as well.
More to come, stay tuned…
2. Organic Grass Fed/Free Roaming Milk vs. Conventional
Since my journey began, I’ve inspired 2 passionate milk converts, that I’m aware of. Perhaps this post will encourage others to make the change. If you watch Travel Channel like I do, certain TV show hosts talk about how “you can almost taste the grass” in milk from pasture-raised cattle.
My best friend said it best:
“For years and years I thought I knew what milk tasted like. I’ve always been a milk drinker and thought ya know… milk is milk is milk. And now that I’ve tried this organic, free-range milk… I realize I had no idea what milk actually tasted like. I’ll never be able to go back to processed, factory crap. Because that’s not what milk is supposed to be like.”
I don’t think that I could put it into better words than that. But do yourself a favor and give it a try. However, do not be fooled: not all organic milks are created equally. The following tidbit comes from http://www.foodrevolution.org
“Cows at Horizon’s dairies rarely if ever eat a blade of grass. They spend their days confined to a fenced dry lot, eating organic grains, and tethered to milking machines three times a day. Dairy products are sometimes touted as good sources of the important Omega-3 essential fatty acids. But Horizon products, like all milk, butter, and cheese from grain-fed cows, have far less of these essential nutrients than dairy products from pastured animals.”
Read: Horizon is just another conglomerate with a smart PR director. Organic Valley and Born Free are much better choices. Born Free is even certified humane – an issue of equal if not greater importance than its organic standing.
Or… there’s Goat Milk as an alternative:
3. Goat Milk