Should I Buy Organic Milk?
Give a mouse a cookie and he’ll ask for a glass of milk— for good reason, too! Besides pairing well with so many of our favorite foods, milk provides a hefty dose of nine essential nutrients including vitamins A, D, and B12 . But milk’s getting political these days, as lawmakers, health professionals, and consumers alike engage in one of the biggest Milk Debates to date: organic vs. regular.
Something to Moo About — What It Is
Check out any organic milk carton and the following claims are sure to appear: no artificial growth hormones, no pesticides, and no antibiotics. That means farmers refrain from giving cows production-boosting hormones and antibiotics. An organic designation also requires that farmers give their cows only organically grown feed.
The most common hormones used on dairy cows increase milk production, but when humans consume non-organic milk, they’re also getting a dose of those compounds greater than what cows naturally produce. While researchers are still trying to pin down their exact potential side effects, studies have linked such hormones to an increased risk of various cancers and, potentially, abnormal physical development in adolescents (and definitely not the awesome kind)   . Another study found organic milk tends to contain higher levels of beneficial fatty acids than the non-organic variety, suggesting a nutrient advantage over conventional milk .
On the Butcher’s Block — The Answer/Debate
Despite organic milk’s potential upsides, the National Dairy Council (comprised of advocates for dairy farmers, to be clear) argues there’s no effective difference between organic and regular milk in terms of quality, nutrition, and safety. New FDA regulations require all milk be tested for antibiotics, and any batch that tests positive is taken out of the U.S. food supply.
Nutritionally, both regular and organic milk are fortified to contain FDA-approved levels of vitamins A and D (which are lost during the skimming process). Any added vitamins and minerals will always be listed on the carton. If organic still seems like the way to go, just be sure to also check for the USDA “organic” seal, as some brands have been known to milk the organic craze without selling the right product.
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