Consumers are increasingly interested in buying products that they perceive as being healthier, and being familiar with organic milk myths can help them make informed choices about what they are getting for their money.
What Is Organic Milk?
Organic milk is sold in stores alongside non-organic varieties, and is a more expensive option for consumers. For milk to meet the requirements to be considered organic, it must meet a number of criteria.
- Animal feed must be pesticide and herbicide-free
- Only approved vitamins and minerals may be used
- Dairy cows must have access to a pasture area during the growing season
- Any calves on the farm must be raised on organic milk
- Antibiotics are not allowed for use on organic dairy farms
- Animals must be treated in a humane manner. For example, tail docking (amputating up to half of the length of the animal's tail) is prohibited
- Feed for animals raised to produce organic milk must be free of slaughter by-products and excrement
Some Organic Milk Myths
Anyone Can Declare Themselves to be an Organic Dairy Farmer
An organic milk producer must keep detailed records to demonstrate that he or she is operating the farm in accordance with National organic standards. Organic farms are inspected on an annual basis. In addition, the farmer may be subject to an unannounced visit by inspectors at any time.
Organic Cows Spend Most of Their Time in a Pasture
The idea of happy cows scampering in a peaceful meadow from morning until night and then heading into the barn to be milked may not be completely accurate. The regulations for organic milk producers specify that the cows must have access to a pasture, but this can be interpreted as a small grassy area on the farm property where the cattle are moved to for a short time each day.
Organic Milk Is Produced Locally
One of the organic milk myths that many people assume is fact is that a product marked "organic" comes from a farm close to the store and that it is produced in small batches. In reality, organic milk found in a local supermarket may come from organic milk powder imported from New Zealand.
When you are on a tight budget you may want to prioritize your shopping list to include the organic dirty dozen. These are foods, including dairy, that carry higher risks of pesticide contamination than other foods. By making these items a priority you can budget for the most important organic foods.
Organic milk myths aside, consumers are more likely to consider where there food comes from than in the past. By buying organic products, they are supporting producers who operate their farms without using chemicals and other potentially harmful substances.
The market has shifted and consumers are interested in embracing a more natural way of eating. If the demand for organic milk stays at current levels or increases, perhaps more producers will adopt this way of managing their farm practices.