Dairy can be a large part of our diet as it in cheeses, yogurt, kefir, as well as a common ingredient in many packaged foods. The type of dairy product you purchase is extremely important for your overall health and well being.
There are two categories of milk: organic and conventional.
Organic milk is made without the use of pesticides, antibiotics, and synthetic hormones. This also means a significant part of the cow's diet is from an organic pasture. According to the electronic Code of Federal Regulations for Certified Organic livetock, they must accomodate the health and natural behavior of animals which includes year round access to pasture and direct sunlight, shelter, as well as clean air and water for drinking.
Conventional milk contains synthetic hormones, pesticides and antibiotics. Most likely, your milk is not coming from the cow you see lazily crazing a pasture. Unlike organic milk, there is no stringent rules or regulations. It is much easier to house cows in dry lots, also known as factory farming. This rarely provides the cows with proper shelter or clean living conditions as they are often confined to a fenced lot with a dirt floor.
Just like humans, cows do not start producing milk until they give birth to a calf. With the increase demands of milk consumption since the late 1950's, this demand puts cows under increased stress to not only feed their young but also provide for human consumption. Consequently, many cows develop mastitis which then leads to need more antibiotics.
In order to help the cows produce more milk, they are fed large amount of grains as well as injections of bovine growth hormone (BGH). Cows are not meant to digest grains. They are created to digest grass. When they consume grains, it causes digestive stress causing bloat and acidosis leaving lesions and abscesses in their liver. Cows are also given antibiotics to decrease the incidence of acidosis.
Fortunately, we have awesome local options for organic and grass fed cows that provide amazing, delicious and healthy milk! Picket Fence Creamery is located in Woodward, IA. You can purchase their dairy products at their farm and at local grocery stores such as Hy-Vee, Gateway Market, Campbell's Nutrition and Whole Foods. Kalona Supernatural, located in Kalona, Iowa also has their dairy products available at the local grocery stores mentioned above.
While the price may be two dollars more than you're accustomed to, it is definitely worth your overall health and wellbeing, especially in the future.
What a priveledge to be able to support local dairy farmers who still believe in allowing cows to graze on grasses, bask in the sunshine and allowed to roam with their young freely!