A new report from the British Journal of Nutrition (as shown on the US National Library of Medicine / National Institutes of Health website) conducts a “meta-analysis” on 170 different studies to determine whether organically produced milk affects milk quality and nutritional benefits.
Levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are lauded for their health benefits and are typically found in high quantities in foods such as hemp oil and wild salmon, are “significantly higher in organic milk” than in conventional milk.
This is attributed less to organic production methods and more to cows foraging outdoors, free-range, eating grass instead of grain. Grasses have higher levels of omega-3s than corn, and these omega-3’s move up the food chain from grasses to cows to the humans that consume these meat and dairy products.
A co-author of the study, Charles Benbrook, says “It’s not something magical about organic. It’s about what the animals are being fed. For once, this is a pretty simple story.”
Clearly, consumers are paying a premium for organic milk, particularly artisan brands that might have cream on top or otherwise tout the benefits of grass-fed, sustainably and humanely managed dairy products. Studies are increasingly showing the benefits go beyond the reduction of pesticides and herbicides in our diet, and the bottom line may be that it’s in part because what cows eat are what humans eat.
licensed organic milk image from Shutterstock