Milk Money
Where does your milk dollar go?  Do you buck up for organic?  Go rBGH-free?  Regular?  Raw?  Non/Low/Full-Fat?  Heck, there's even a brand that supports my kid's school.  WAY too many choices - for what should be one of the (few) simple buying decisions at the grocery.

I personally buy organic some of the time (when it's on sale or I have a coupon) but almost always hormone-free.  Thing is, depending on what store I go to (and I frequent many) there are different brands available that make my choices more complicated.

ORGANIC

I'm often tempted by store brand organic milk because it's less expensive.  But have you heard about the Horizon/Aurora Organic boycott?   The Organic Consumer's Association is leading the charge to boycott this company (owned by Dean Foods) because they have been pushing the limits on organic standards by using factory farm feedlots where the animals have little or no access to pasture.

So, if you care about maintaining organic standards, then consider passing on not only the Horizon Organic brand but the private label brands that use the same supplier.  As far as I know, these brands include:  Costco's "Kirkland Signature," Target's "Archer Farm", Walmart's "Great Value", Safeway's "O" organics brand, Publix's "High Meadows,"Giant's "Natures Promise," and Wild Oats' organic milk.

Milk3.jpgTrader Joe's and Whole Foods "365' brand of organic milk appear to be OK.  Let's hope so anyway! (and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong about any of this)

If you want to get into some heavy details, check out the Cornucopia Institute's research project on Maintaining the Integrity of Organic Milk.  If not, just enjoy their great graphic illustration of the situation!

 

rBGH-FREE

I want to keep this as simple as possible.... rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) is given to cows to increase their milk production.  It is bad for:

  • COWS - because it can lead to chronic mastitis (if you've ever breast fed, you know what that means and why you don't EVER want to have it!). And because of the risk of infection, herds are treated with lots of antibiotics.
  • PEOPLE - because the resulting milk has high levels of Insulin-like Growth Hormone (IGF-1). Research has shown that elevated levels of IGF-1 is linked to an increased risk of breast, colorectal and prostrate cancer.

Use of rBGH is banned in Canada and the European Union.  It's allowed here in the U.S. but the movement to stop using it is getting bigger by the day.  All Trader Joe's milk (organic and non) is rBGH-free.  Starbucks offers rBGH-free milk in all their U.S. stores and is working toward a complete switch.  Kroger is officially rBGH-free in the West and their switch will be nationwide by Feb. 2008.   

Fortunately, rBGH-free milk is easy to find and while you do pay a premium, it is not as spendy as organic.  A good compromise if you ask me.   

OTHER OPTIONS

Most people I know buy 1% or skim.  I buy 2% because it's what I grew up with and what my family likes.  My son had a pediatrician who gave me a hard time about switching to skim.  I switched doctors instead.  I'm not an expert, but I'm not afraid of a little bit of fat.

Anyone out there a raw milk fan?  I've never tried it but I know there are people who think it is MUCH healthier than pasteurized milk.  You can learn more from the Campaign for Real Milk (a project of the Weston A. Price foundation).    

Supporting your School?  Here in Minnesota, I try to buy Kemps Select brand (rBGH-free) because saving the cap means money for Drew's school.  Just one more thing to think about in the complicated process of feeding your family... 





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