Organic Coffee Vs Plain Coffee

What is required for milk to be labeled organic? This is a common question especially when a person contemplates the additional cost associated with it. There are four requirements that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has established in order for a product to be labeled USDA Organic Milk.

1) NO ANTIBIOTICS – One requirement of organic milk is that the cows are not treated with antibiotics. In non-organic milk production if a cow needs antibiotics it is treated and then returned to the herd once tests show that it is antibiotic free. If a cow in an organic herd needs to be treated with antibiotics, it is not allowed to return to the herd for 12 months.

2) PASTURE GRAZING – Organic milk cows must have access to pasture. The current standards do not require a specific length of time for the cows to be allowed access to a pasture.

3) NO BGH – Another requirement is that the cows cannot be treated with BGH – bovine growth hormone, which increases milk production. People feel this is important because there is concern that BGH hormones in milk could lead to higher levels of IGF – insulin growth factor – which is linked with cancer and that it could raise the risk of other hormone-related cancers. Others say that BGH is harmless. The reason is that BGH is a protein hormone, which means that if some does appear in milk, our digestive tracks destroy it. In addition, our bodies naturally produce some IGF each day. High levels of IGF are most often associated with being overweight, and consuming diets high in saturated fat and refined calories, not milk consumption.

4) WHAT THE COWS ARE FED – Organic herds can only be fed grain or grass that is not treated with pesticides. It has been stated that the small levels of pesticides in non-organic milk are safe and do not pose health risks.

In addition to these requirements most organic milk is processed in three stages. 1) Pasteurization – This stage requires heating the milk enough so as to rid it of dangerous microorganisms. This also allows for longer shelf life. An alternative to normal pasteurization is Ultra-pasteurization (UHT- Ultra-high temperature). In this process, the milk is pasteurized at a higher temperature to make it sterile. The milk is usually heated to 280 degrees for at least two seconds. UHT milk can be packaged in containers that will keep it safe without the need to refrigerate. The shelf life can be up to 60 days. There is a lot of controversy about the effects of UHT on organic milk. 2) Homogenization – This process prevents the separation of the milk fat and the milk. The result is a silky smooth texture. Organic milks are available in both homogenized and non-homogenized (cream on top). 3) Fortification – During the first two stages the milk loses some nutrients, so this process adds certain vitamins back into the milk. Vitamins A and D are commonly added.

Is organic milk worth the extra cost? Many feel it is for the reasons stated above. You will have to decide if the processes listed above provide enough value for you to justify the additional costs.

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