Americans drink about half a cup of cow’s milk every day, according to 2019 data from the USDA. Considering milk is still a breakfast mainstay, should you consider splurging on an organic carton instead of sipping on conventional stuff?
Here we finally settle the debate on whether organic milk is better than regular milk (psst, the verdict might just save you a few bucks). And before you buy a gallon, check out these 4 surprising effects of drinking milk.
What is organic milk compared to regular milk?
Cows must be organic to produce organic milk. And unlike conventional dairy farming, organic dairy farms are subject to specific criteria, according to the USDA:
- Organic cows cannot receive growth hormones or antibiotics (unless the animal is sick)
- Food must be 100% organic
- Cows have access to pasture at least 120 days a year
As for antibiotics, there are exceptions that guarantee the ethical treatment of cows. Dairy producers are allowed to treat sick cows with antibiotics or other drugs; however, treated cows are no longer considered organic and must be sold to a non-organic facility, according to the USDA.
Should you be worried about antibiotics in conventional milk?
Ultimately, the milk you buy at the store, whether it’s organic or regular milk, is completely free of antibiotics. That’s because the USDA doesn’t allow milk that tests positive for antibiotic residues to arrive in stores, according to Mississippi State University Extension. So rest assured that organic and non-organic milk in the dairy aisle of your grocery store is completely free of antibiotics.
And that goes for safe pesticide levels too. The USDA Pesticide Data Program evaluates both conventional and organic dairy products and ensures that all pesticide residues in all types of cow’s milk are well below established limits, per Mississippi State University Extension.
Nutrition of organic milk compared to regular milk
Many people buy organic milk because they think it is nutritionally superior. However, research shows that may not be the case.
According to a 2016 study in the British Journal of Nutrition, organic milk contains more vitamin E, iron and healthy polyunsaturated fats (especially omega-3), but it is lower in iodine and selenium. Yet, milk is not a significant source of vitamin E or iron, so it is best to get these nutrients from vitamin E-rich foods, such as almonds and sunflower seeds, and from iron-rich foods, such as beans and salmon. .
While the British Journal of Nutrition A study found that organic milk is higher in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, so it doesn’t really matter if you’re buying anything other than whole milk. Skim, low-fat, or low-fat milk removes fat during the manufacturing process, so only whole milk maintains the fatty acid profile.
But that doesn’t mean you should shell out for organic whole milk. Whole milk dairy products are nutritionally no better than skim milk. A 2017 study in the journal Beverages concluded that drinking organic milk rather than conventional milk has no substantial health benefits.
Plus, both organic and conventional milk are fortified with vitamin D, as required by the FDA, so you’re sure to get this important nutrient from any type of cow’s milk you choose, which may not be the case if you consume non-dairy milk substitutes.
Buying conventional milk can save you money
We know your grocery bill is really high right now, so save your money and avoid organic milk. In February 2023, the USDA reported that a gallon of conventional whole milk cost an average of $4.38, while a half-gallon of organic whole milk cost $4.81, more than double for an organic jug. .
Organic milk has a higher price because raising organic dairy cows has higher costs when it comes to feed prices and organic certification costs, according to Mississippi State University Extension. Additionally, organically raised cows produce about 15% less milk than conventionally raised cows because organic producers cannot use the same fertilizers to increase the cows’ feed, which is another reason. why organic milk is more expensive.
There are no significant nutritional differences between organic milk and conventional milk. Both organic and non-organic milk are completely free of antibiotics, and the USDA guarantees that the pesticide residues that remain in the milk are well below established limits.
If milk is a staple in your household, buying a non-organic pitcher can save you money at the grocery store.
April is a born and bred Brooklynite with a passion for all things health, wellness, and taste buds. Learn more about April
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