A couple of weeks ago we laid out the USDA requirements for fruits and vegetables that are labeled “organic.”  So we know that organic plant foods are grown without pesticides, but what does it mean when dairy products are organic?  Farmers don’t put bug spray on cows… right?

Here’s a translation of the different terms you might see on a milk carton:

Organic means that the dairy cows…
Were not given antibiotics or growth hormones
Were fed 100% organic feed
Had access to pasture (the outdoors)

No rBST or rBGH means that the dairy cows…
Were not given any growth hormones to increase milk production

Grass fed means that the dairy cows…
Were fed through grazing (eating stuff that grows outside)
Were not fed grains or grain byproducts
Had continuous access to pasture

Ultra-pasteurized or UHT means that the milk…
Has been exposed to a very high temperature for a short period of time in order to kill bacteria.
Ultra-pasteurized milk in an aseptic container can keep from spoiling for months, but would you want to drink 6-month old milk?
This process basically turns milk into a different food, so it is not usable for making dairy products like yogurt or cheese at home.

So which one is best to buy?  I would say that organic is ideal, but if it’s too pricey go for a hormone-free milk at minimum.  There isn’t any research that proves it’s harmful to humans, but I don’t think milk from a cow on steroids is part of a wholesome diet.

I think this commercial from Applegate Farms says it all!

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