What is organic milk and in what way it is different from conventionally produced milk (regular milk)?
There is no difference between organic milk and regular milk as for as the quality, nutrition and safety are concerned. The nutrient components of both the kinds are same but the trend these days is in favor of organically produced milk and is slowly gaining confidence among the populace of the developed countries.
Organic milk is produced in a farm environment where the routine farm practices are strictly controlled. However, the regular milk too is produced with stringent quality standards that adhere to the legal standards and both are wholesome, safe and nutritious. The statements mentioned on the label of containers of organic milk refer to farm management practices.
What makes the organic milk unique and so special?
The milk that enters processing dairies is routinely checked for the presence of antibiotics and rarely milk containing antibiotic residue is encountered in the supply system. If the problematic supply is found, it is immediately withheld and returned. Because of the rampant use of pesticides in agriculture, the residues of pesticides are present everywhere including water and soil. This paves the way for their presence in almost all food products including the organic food products. But the USDA regulations stipulate that their limits conform to the laws prevailing in US and other internationally accepted limits.
A natural protein hormone called bST – Bovine Somatotrophin helps to increase milk production in lactating dairy cows and the level of bST influences milk production. To increase milk production dramatically, dairy farmers attempt to supplement this bST. However, there is no need to raise the alarm bell thinking that milk produced by supplementing bST is unwholesome. Extensive research work done across the world confirms the fact that it is safe for human consumption.
The aim of the dairy farmers is to produce wholesome, nutritious and high quality milk by adopting proper animal healthcare and better environmental practices in their farms. While the conventional dairy farmer use the best management practices to produce good quality milk, the organic farmer must take extra precaution in using organic fertilizers and pesticides and desist from using rbST. Milk and Dairy Products can display “USDA Organic” only if they follow all the stipulations as listed out in the USDA’s National Organic Program. It is no wonder that the organic milk costs more than the regular milk because the dairy farmers have to follow strict government standards to display the coveted “USDA Organic” label on their product.
What about the taste of organic milk?
The taste of milk is same regardless of whether it is organic or regular milk and it differs from bottle to bottle and season apart from other factors such as location of the farm, breed of the dairy cow, type of feed fed to dairy cows etc. Milk that is subjected to higher heat treatment (ultra high temperature heat treatment) may show a slight difference in taste.
There are certain misconceptions about freshness of organic milk. The freshness depends upon the speed with which the milk produced in a farm reaches the consumer and in this regard both conventionally produced milk and organic milk score equal because they travel the same distance to reach the consumer’s dining table. Modern day advancement in transport and effective distribution pattern of milk will no doubt help the milk to reach the customer sooner in a fresh state.
By consuming organic milk, every individual is supporting the organic dairy farmers indirectly in his efforts to produce a product that is more stringent in its quality and at the same time containing minimum residual limits of harmful contaminants.