Organic Consumers Association

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Experts Explain the Real Difference Between Organic and Non-Organic Milk

“Milk is an emotional product.”

Theresa Marquez, the mission executive at Organic Valley, hit the nail right on the head.

Whenever people talk about milk, and their choices in regards to this dairy product, it gets very personal, very quickly. Whether you were breast-fed or formula-fed, many of us transitioned to dairy milk as soon as we were toddlers. So it’s understandable that we hold it near and dear to our hearts, even if we drink almond milk or coconut milk today. 

One of the key questions these days is whether we should hand over the extra cash for organic milk. It’s important to know exactly what we’re getting when we buy organic milk vs. non-organic milk (which we’ll call “conventional” milk for the purpose of this story).

We reached out to experts in both fields to really understand the difference between organic and conventional milk, specifically in terms of antibiotics and hormones.

What is organic milk?

According to strict organic regulations put in place by the USDA, organic milk must come from a cow that has not been treated with antibiotics, has not been given hormones ― for either reproduction or growth ― and has been fed at least 30 percent of its diet on pasture. (That’s the minimum ― farmers in more temperate regions are expected to let their cows graze on pasture for as long as possible.) The rest of the cows’ feed must be grown without chemical fertilizers, pesticides or genetically modified seeds.

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