In the U.S., organic dairy brings in about $6 billion in sales annually.1 Consumers pay a premium for the milk expecting they are getting a superior product. Organic milk (and meat) from cows raised primarily on pasture have been repeatedly shown to be higher in many nutrients, including vitamin E, beta-carotene and beneficial conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
Organic milk also contains about 25 percent less omega-6 fats and 62 percent more omega-3 fats than conventional milk,2 and the animals, when given appropriate access to pasture, are raised in a more humane environment than cows raised on CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations).
Unfortunately, not all organic dairy is created equal, and just seeing the USDA organic label on a gallon of milk is not enough to verify its quality (or lack thereof). An investigation by The Washington Post revealed that some organic dairies are nothing more than CAFOs in disguise, selling higher-priced milk that is scarcely different from conventional CAFO dairy.
Milk From Large Organic Dairies May Not Be as Organic as Promised
When the Post visited Aurora Organic Dairy in Colorado, the company that provides organic store brands to corporations like Wal-Mart, Target and Costco, a few problems were evident right off the bat. For starters, the farm is massive, housing 15,000 cows, "making it more than 100 times the size of a typical organic herd," the Post noted.
Further, organic standards require that cows have free access to certified organic pasture for the entire grazing season, but there are large loopholes in the requirement.