Friday, February 01, 2008

crying over spilled milk

Now that we are buying more organic products, it really causes me a great deal of distress when our children knock over their cups of milk...

Or use it for some artistic three-year-old creation on our kitchen table.

Isn't the most important thing that the cows producing milk aren't treated with the rBST growth hormone? I know that there are non-organic milks that you can buy that are from rBST-free cows. Not that I'm fully educated on the negative effects of hormone stimulation for those of the bovine variety - but - I have heard that it could be attributed to the onset of early puberty and the reason there are a lot of 12-year old girls with a bra size larger than mine.

Health reasons?

Environmental reasons?

At $7.00 a gallon, I'm really beginning to wonder if the money on organic milk is well spent.

I'd love to hear comments before I go drop another $28.00 on four gallons of milk, tomorrow.


  1. Okay, we don't do organic milk. Most dairies aren't using the RSBT anyway. The reason why is that the increase in milk production was causing infections in the cows and taking them off the lines, so the increase in milk was offset by the added infections. Cows cannot go back on the line until their milk if free from antibiotics. No milk can contain antibiotics in it and it is tested. If shows up positive for antibiotics the whole truck is dumped, so you better believe the farmers are making sure the cows are clean.

    I have heard horror stories of organic cows being forced to milk with mastisis because it costs so much money to make an organic cow and if they are EVER given antibiotics for any reason they can no longer be "organic". I've heard that the conditions in the organic farms are inhumane and cows are forced to milk even when they are clearly infected. I've heard about pus in the milk. I've heard from one triplet mom whose been in dairy farming for years, and she said that the only humane way to do an organic dairy is to run a non-orgnanic and an organic farm side by side so you can move the cows that get mastitis into the non-organic side.

    I know you've had mastitis. Can you IMAGINE those poor cows that can't receive treatment?????

    That being said, I would probably buy the organic anyways, but Greg has put his foot down on it and I would like to remain married. However, if you call the 1-800 number on your regular old milk carton, they will tell you if they gather the milk from RSBT treated cows. Most major producers do NOT use it.

  2. With our house full of little girls, I switched over to organic milk when they all finished with formula. Fortunately, we "only" pay $5.25 or so per gallon. I think it is pretty important, but we're still not 100% organic... just gradually making the change.

  3. Well, besides not being pumped full of hormones, organic milk comes from cows who are fed less "crap" (i.e. pesticides, etc) and generally treated better than conventional cows. The actual nutritional stuff in the milk is the same.

    We eat about 80-90% organics in our household, but even with my athlete husband eating a lot, we can afford it by not evereating and wasting (i.e. use our left-overs), but we don't have three young children using milk for art either. :)

    Good luck!

  4. Hello! I'm a frequent reader of your blog and am also a dietitian. While organic milk is good for you, you have to remember that people have been drinking regular milk for years with little or no adverse health effects. You may want to read more about the topic at:
    Good luck and it's great to hear that you work so hard to feed your kids healthy and organic foods. That's very refreshing in this world full of childhood obesity!

  5. Michelle's information isn't 100% correct. According to the USDA:

    Section 205.236 Origin of Live Stock - (a)(2)Dairy Animals - Milk or milk products must be from animals that have been under continuous organic management beginning no later than 1 year prior to the production of the milk or milk products that are to be sold, labeled, or represented as organic...

    Section 205.237 Livestock Feed - (a)The producer of an organic livestock operation must provide livestock with total feed ration composed of agricultural products, including pasture and forage, that are organically produced and, if applicable, organically handled... (b)The producer of an organic operation must not: (1)Use animal drugs, including hormones to promote growth; (2)Provide feed supplements or additives in amounts above those needed for adequate nutrition and health maintenance for the species at its specific stage of life; (3)Feed plastic pellets for roughage; (4)Feed formulas containing urea or manure; (5)Feed mammalian or poultry slaughter by-products to mammals or poultry; or (6)Use feed, feed additives, and feed supplements in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act...

    Section 205.239 Livestock Living Conditions - (a)The producer of an organic livestock operation must establish and maintain livestock living conditions which accommodate the health and natural behavior of animals, including: (1)Access to the outdoors, shade, shelter, exercise areas, fresh air, and direct sunlight suitable to the species, its stage of production, the climate, and the environment; (2)Access to pasture for ruminants [including cows]."

  6. BTW-- this might be of interest to you. It's the organic codes under the USDA guidelines.

  7. for my twins I've used organic since they started on whole milk. We get ours at Trader Joe's or Henry's when it is on sale, sometimes as low as $4.79 a gallon, and stock up. I've got two deep freezers (that were filled up with breast milk at one time) and we buy gallons and gallons at a time. With two, 10-15 usually get us to the next sale!

  8. i'd go with regular milk.. i know nothing about the rules and reg's, but i know that i grew up with my mother smoking while pregnant and b'feeding me and then had a crib painted with lead paint, my mom would dip my binky in honey to get me to take it and i'd go to bed with a bottle of kool-aid... and i turned out JUST FINE... aside from the infertility thing and the neurological movement disorder.. oh.. and the diabetes and the thyroid disease and the gastrointestinal disease...

    scratch all that.. i know NOTHING about any of it.. but i know that i feel comfortable feeding my son 1% whole milk from Hood (you're from MA.. you know the brand.. :)

    jen (aka fourjmh)

  9. I am SAHM and my dh is the only one working. I have 2 boys and have been buying organic eggs, milk, produce, and some other times for a long long time. It is depressing that most of my credit card bills are to Trader joes, Whole Foods and Wegmans but I think it's so worth it for the health of our family. I have a good friend that has 7 children and she was telling me that they really don't need alot of cow's milk or if any at all. She makes other things for breakfast and they get vitamin d and calcium from other sources (didn't ask what because I didn't want to pry). They are healthy and fine and they've never been vaccinated either. I think she does almond milk and other healthy subsitutes. She has to watch what she spends too and so I think she is doing a good job. I stopped giving my boys milk 3 times a day and just make a smoothie every other day for breakfast which has organic milk, organic yogurt and frozen organic fruit. Also wheat germ and protein powder! The rest of the day they eat cheese of all kinds and the occasional icecream (try to buy natural icecream too). Anyway gotta go, speaking of the boys they are not being supervised. :) We just made pudding with whole organic milk and the pudding mix was from Whole Foods so I know it's good stuff. Lots of dairy there without "spilling". LOL

  10. Fry's (which I don't know if you have in your area or not) store brand milk comes from cows not treated with RbST. Their milk is usually 2-3 dollars a gallon (with a fry's card), and on sale you can get it even cheaper than that. That's what we feed our girls!

    - fellow TCer, mom of GGG

  11. My two best friends and college roomates were animal bio majors.

    The biggest lesson they learned from their very awesome animal industry profs is:

    Don't buy into everything that PETA or likewise tries to tell you. There are regulations and regular checks for farmers and producers, and we are not ingesting antibiotics or horomones from animals the media is always portraying it.

    We've never bought organic in my family and we're all fine. I went through normal puberty, lol.

  12. Husband is a giant skeptic, and from what I've read, there's not a statistically significant difference in organic vs. regular milk. Therefore, we don't buy organic products in general, because of the higher price and unproven (to us) health advantages.

    We're big on scientific studies around here, and even then, we examine how they are conducted.

    Our favorite eye rolling phrase is "Studies have shown...". Show me the data and scientific method used, then we'll talk.

  13. It won't help you decide by tomorrow, and I don't know if you'll have time to read the whole thing, but there is a really great section about "organic" stuff in The Omnivore's Dilemma, written by Michael Pollan.

    In my state, there was just legislation banning the use of terms like "growth-hormone free" from labels -- supposedly there's no measurable difference in the milk from treated cows versus non-treated cows, and having a label that says it's free of a substance that nobody can detect? Um, some argue that it is not helpful.

    And yet, and yet... if it's so darn harmless, why is it banned in Europe, Australia, etc.???

    This is all to say, I don't buy organic milk even though I do think pasture-raised, organically fed, grass-fed cows produce milk that is better for me than cows fed grain. I agree, it's awfully expensive. I do buy from a local dairy that I have visited and I've seen that the cows are not suffering. They are not fully grass-fed, nor organic, but they are apparently healthy and not miserable. And this dairy pledges no artificial growth hormones, even though they aren't allowed to put that on their labels anymore.

    The whole organic issue is really unclear -- and I recommend reading Omnivore's Dilemma, as it has a lot of facts and explains the ins and outs of the food system in our country.

  14. For some reason my link a post thing isn't working, but I did write about why we have gone organic on my blog if you are interested.

  15. We are an organic milk family. With 3 girls I (we) feel that it is important to feed them as much organic foods as we can. We are not 100% organic but I try to keep our dairy intake organic. I have cut back their milk intake because they eat a massive amount of dairy. the 2 1/2 year olds are limited to 2 cups a day plus whatever they drink with their cereal. The 14 month old gets 3 cups.
    We pay about $5 a gallon for store brand organic. I know you can request coupons from Horizon and Stonybrook Farm (?).

  16. I dont like milk and dont drink it. The only one who really drinks alot of it is my hubby. I use soy milk for my 20 month old because of his milk allergy. Sorry I couldn't be more help.

  17. OK - no offense to NIK - but the site she is giving you if from the NATIONAL DAIRY COUNCIL???

    I have no research for you - but I do have life experience like growing up on my families farm in North Dakota. Here are a few things I experienced.

    1. Farmers use TONS of chemical with their crops and animals (my family included). It is almost impossible to scrape together a living as a farmer - so they really have to maximize "yields" in any way possible.

    2. The Dairy lobby is one of the largest, most well funded and powerful of the Ag lobbies (actually maybe THE most powerful) - I would take any info provided by them with a HUGE grain of salt.

    3. I went to a land grant university in ND and knew TONS of Ag and livestock related majors. A Truism IMHE: NONE of these people was at all "organically" oriented. Its a mindset that just isn't part of the program . . . .

    4. I have seen many a Diary farm. The cows are indeed shot up with all kinds of antibiotics, growth hormones and anything else under the sun possible to maximize yields. They are similarly fed grains and feed that are heavily chemically treated. If the organic cows are forced to milk with mastitis and no antibiotics - this still pales in comparison to non-organic dairy farming practices

    5. Artificially altering hormone levels in cows producing milk our children ingest - and precocious puberty phenomenon - seems like a very suspicious thing to me . . . (I also avoid soymilk for there is equal suspicion in the plant based estrogens there).

    6. I am also suspicious of antibiotic resistant infections and our ingestion of dairy and meat products from animals given huge amounts of antibiotics (hence - I have also gone exclusively organic with all our meat as well)

    Bottom Line: Can't hurt. Might Help. Its worth it IMHO.


    PS - sorry for the long post!