Does Organic Milk Have Hormones – A Very Good Question?
This post has given me new insights to the whole organic milk concept. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are four requirements to classify milk as organic.
Apparently, milk that is labeled with “USDA Organic” has to come from cows that have not been treated with bovine growth hormone (BGH) to increase the production of milk. However, since BGH is a protein hormone, if there’s any appearance in the milk then the enzymes and acid in our digestive system would automatically destroy it. One of the concerns has always been that hormones in milk could raise the risk of hormone-related cancers, or could lead to an increased level of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) which is linked to cancer.
According to several studies, high blood levels of IGF are mostly linked to overweight, lack of exercise and diets too high in saturated fat. It’s been said that vegans who eat no animal products showed a much lower percentage (13%) of IGF than non-vegans.
Antibiotics in Cows – do we know for sure?
Are antibiotics allowed in cows or their food? What are the specific requirements around that?
The second characteristic of organic milk is to not treat cows with antibiotics. A cow that’s been treated with antibiotics does not get returned to the organic herd until 12 months later. However, in a conventional herd, milk from cows that received antibiotics do not get used until it’s been shown free of antibiotics. USDA has a process in place where tanks of milk are routinely tested to ensure there are no antibiotic traces.
Do Organic Foods Have Pesticides?
According to USDA, the third requirement is for cows’ feed (grass or grain) to be grown without pesticides. Although, non organic milk contains a very low level of certain pesticides, those levels are much lower than our tolerance levels. I always question how a researcher would actually know what my tolerance level is compared to the next person. What if my tolerance level is lower than others, could the pesticides harm my body? Are some of us more prone to pesticides- increased diseases than these studies have shown? Depending on the research, everything seems to have a certain level of pesticides whether organic or non organic.
Time in the Fields – Grain-Fed Vs Grass-Fed Cattle
This one is an interesting one – the fourth/final requirement. Grazing time – cows must have “access to pasture.” Believing that cows spend their entire time in the fields most of the year is an illusion. Based on the standards/requirements, cows require a specific length of time in pasture. Although a cow can graze in pasture for only a limited time, it can still produce certified organic milk.
Some suggest that pasture-fed cows may produce milk that contains more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is a special type of fat that could protect against cancer and other health issues.
According to Michael Pariza, professor of food microbiology and toxicology at the University of Wisconsin, he stated that grass feeding on its own does not assure an increase in CLA. He and Prof Dale Bauman, a professor of animal science at Cornell University, both concluded that cows fed with mixed grains with soybeans and/or other additions can produce milk with a higher CLA levels than milk from only grass-fed cows.
Know What’s in Your Milk?
Overall, we need to be smart consumers and read labels. Don’t simply buy something because it’s labeled organic; research it, know where it’s from and investigate if there’s more listed than the necessary ingredients, “milk.” Know what you’re eating and what you’re feeding yourself and your family. I don’t mean to sound so cliché but honestly, our lives depend on it.
Don’t live to eat! Eat to live!!
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