New research from the USDA shows that milk consumption is down in the U.S, while Organic milk sales are up, and steadily raising, accounting for about 4 percent of milk consumption in the U.S. That’s a number that will hopefully continue to climb, considering what we are learning about the nutritional make-up of Organic milk Vs. Conventional milk.
Cows raised in confined spaces, eating a diet of grains alone within it’s barn stall aren’t producing the same milk as cows raised primarily grazing on legumes and grasses from a pasture. In order to be certified organic milk, the FDA requires the cows get at least 30% of their dry feed from grazing the pastures a minimum of 120 days out of the year. Many smaller dairy farmers have higher standards for their dairy cows, yet even with that slight change in diet, FDA certified organic cows are producing milk with 62% more Omega-3′s than conventional cows.
This is extremely relevant, as it comes at a time when we are being urged to balance our intake of Omega-3′s and Omega-6′s, due to the declining quality of many Western diets: Fried foods, corn (which seems to be in nearly everything these days), and many of the oils we consume on a daily basis are all high in Omega-6′s, and contain almost none, or very little, omega-3′s.
The imbalance between Omega-6′s and Omega-3′s causes inflammation, which leads to many other health issues (diseases, like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, that are the primary causes of death and morbidity today). So if you are eating a diet high in Omega-6 and low in Omega-3, you will have increased inflammation, while if you’re diet is high in omega-3 and low in omega-6, you will decrease inflammation.
All of this knowledge is what has producers of organic milk so excited - because not only is organic milk higher in omega-3, it’s also 25% lower in omega-6, giving it a place high on the list of foods to eat balance our omega-3 & 6′s, along with fish and nuts.
To reap all the benefits of organic milk, research suggests consuming whole milk (4% fat), as apposed to 2% or skim, because skipping the fat means skipping the omega-3′s. This is scary to many people who are watching their weight, but interestingly enough, studies are being published that are finding that children who drink whole milk are much leaner than children who drink 2% or skim.
Whichever kind you end up choosing, be it whole, 2%, 1% or skim, research supports that you will still benefit by choosing organic over conventional.
Interested in some recipes for milk? Read up on what to make when your milk is about to expire.