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Is Organic Milk Worth the Additional Cost?

It may seem like organic foods are always better, safer, tastier, healthier... but that not always the case.  For example, organic bananas are a complete waste.  The pesticide (if they even used any) couldn't get therough the tick peels, and you don't eat the peels.  But what about milk?

Major considerations in the Organic v. Conventional dairy


Issue Discussion Organic Conventional Winner References
Hormones Many are concerned that growth hormones and lactation hormones like rbST” (recumbent growth hormone bovine hormone),  fed to cattle will show up in the meat or milk. None are used Some use it, some don't and are labeled "made without rbST” Organic National Dairy Council
Antibiotics If cows are given antibiotics to treat or prevent an illness , could it end up in the milk? Turns out, even non-organic farmers are not allowed to use the milk from a cow that has been treated with antibiotics for 6 months afterwards, to give it time leave their system. and all milk is tested for antibiotics, the milk is not allowed to be used in any are found. None used, although If a cow becomes sick, an organic dairy farmer can try approved organic health treatments. If those don’t work, the sick cow will then receive antibiotics. None found Tie National Dairy Council
Pesticides If cows eat grasses, grains or other foods that have any pesticide residue, can it be found in the milk? No pesticides Pesticides are below health levels and barely detectable Organic, slightly National Dairy Council,
The Organic Center
Nutritional value  Amost all of the nutritional values are identical and are usually due to the diet, rather than whether it is organic or not.  For example, pasture fed, grass fed cows seem to produce milk with a better nutritional portoflio. One study says organic milk has 25% less omega-6 fatty acids and 62% more omega-3 fatty acids (and this is a good thing), The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics maintain there isn’t any major nutritional difference between milk that was produced organically or conventionally.  Organic, barely National Dairy Council,
Washington State University
Happier cows? A less stressed happier cow theoretically produces better (and more ) milk. Organic rules require that cows are given access to pesticide-free pastures during the grazing season – at least 120 days per year. Organic cows aren't pushed for production," Schaap continued. "They're healthier, they're living longer...typically six to eight years here." It's up to each farm how much time a cow spends outside of the barn. Organic National Dairy Council,
SF Reporter
Cost differential It used to be that organic milk cost double the prce of conventional milk.  While organic milk is still more expensive... the price gap has closed considerably amd unless you drink many gallons per week, it's probably a very small amount of your food budget. Still costs less, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot less Conventional Costco, Kroger, Publix

Conclusions and the bottom line

Even Dr. OZ says:

Studies have also found that hormone-treated cows don’t have increased levels of hormone in their milk compared to cows not treated with hormones. In addition, no studies have shown that milk from cows treated with hormones causes any health problems in people who drink it.

There is absolutely no harm, and no reason NOT to prefer organic milk over conventional milk.  So, if you don't mind the additional cost (which in many markets and at stores like Costco can be small) go for it.

But, conventional milk is safe and test results show that. So, if you are on a tight budget, save you money for other areas where organic makes a bigger difference like soft fruits (strawberries, raspberries, etc.)/. And it turns out that many daury farmers, especially the smaller ones, pretty much follow organic practices, they just can't afford to shell out the substantial fees and costs of getting certified as organic.

Now for a twist, there's a study in the UK Gaurdian that claims "Organic milk 'is less healthy than regular milk and could harm child IQ'"