Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Is The New York Times Right About Organic Milk?

The New York Times ran a story last week that reported a study on how organic milk was better for you than conventionally produced milk. The study by researchers, including Charles M. Benbrook, at Washington State University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources found that organic whole milk had more omega 3 fatty acids than omega 6 fatty acids in comparison to whole milk from conventional farms. Their conclusion from the article was that
The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in the organic milk was 2.28, much lower than the 5.77 ratio in conventional milk. (The figures do not apply to nonfat milk, which strips away the fatty acids.)
But I think the article left out three major points about the study.

Actually Pasture Based Milk Is Better

The article made a point, very briefly for its importance, in that all cows that were on pasture (organic or not) produced milk with the better ratio of fatty acids:
Nonorganic cows that graze in pastures also produce milk with greater amounts of omega-3s.
If research does prove that milk with the higher omega 3 fatty acids is better then there is no reason that all or most milk could be improved. The cows on my farm are on pasture most of the day and their rations consist of lots grass that we harvest. We mow wheat and other grasses, chop them up, and store them in silos. We do the same with then entire corn plant, not just the grain. Of course, we also feed hay.

My point is that our cows, as well as those on larger farms, are already getting lots of grass in their diet. We already know that what we feed them changes their milk's components, such as the amount of protein and butter fat. Farms change their rations in order to achieve certain component goals they have. There is no reason that rations for cows cannot be changed in order to achieve a better ratio of fatty acids if it makes milk better.

How Many Servings of Omega 3's Does Milk Have?

Greg Miller wrote in his post that the first thing we should question is whether or not the fatty acid ratio of the pasture grazed cows' milk is superior. There's still research to be done on this to find a definitive answer. He also went on to say that even if it is, the ratio of fatty acids in your daily servings of milk is going to have far less impact on you than other sources in your diet. In other words, this is good news, but if you want a larger amount of Omega 3's in your diet then you should look for foods that have it in higher concentrations.

Whole Milk Is Good For You

The study was only about whole milk because
 (The figures do not apply to nonfat milk, which strips away the fatty acids.)
Instead of going for nonfat milk maybe the real benefits of milk are in the fat.

The good news is that this study reaffirms that milk is good for you in more ways than you knew. If you want to drink organic milk, that's fine by me, but you don't have to.  All milk is good for you and safe, and there are plenty of great reasons for you to drink it. As long as you are enjoying some real delicious dairy products, no matter the kind,  I will be happy.

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