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Organic – What Does It Mean?

 

When we think of the word “organic”, we relate to something that is natural, wholesome, crude, unrefined, untreated.   Most often we think of fruits and vegetables as organic when they have been cultivated in harmony with nature without being treated with chemically enhanced fertilizers and pesticides. 
How about organic milk and milk byproducts?  Is organic milk different from any other milk?  Isn’t all milk already pure and natural?

The answer is simple.  Yes, all milk is a natural product, but organic milk is even purer.  Dairy farms that produce organic milk feed their livestock with special natural feed, such as corn, soy, and hay, which also was grown on organic farms without chemicals and pesticides.

Organic farms and the milk industry are very strictly regulated by the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) with processing, handling, and labeling procedures.  These regulations prohibit the use of antibiotics and synthetic growth hormones (rBGH – recombinant bovine growth hormone) in cows producing organic milk.  These cows are also required to have access to fresh air and pasture.   Organic production prohibits the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s).

All organic product labeling undergoes strict regulations by the USDA, such as:
  • 100% Organic – this means that this product was made with 100% organic ingredients.
  • Organic – means that the product was made with at least 95% organic ingredients, plus high restrictions on the remaining 5%, including no GMO’s.
  • Made with Organic Ingredients – means that the product was made with a minimum of 70% organic ingredients, with high restrictions on the remaining 30% including no GMO’s.
  • Products that are made with less than 70% organic ingredients, may list specific organically produced ingredients on the side panel of the package, but may not make any organic claims on the front of the package.

One of the more popular organic dairy farms is Stonyfield Organic Farm in New Hampshire.  They make organic, and non-organic products to cater to customers from all walks of life.

Organic products, whether agricultural or dairy, are slightly more expensive in comparison to their non-organic counterparts. The higher prices are a direct result of lower demand for organic products as well as the cost of production, packaging, and labeling of these products.

Stay tuned to my next upcoming post, where I will provide you with some very useful information about organic and non-organic yogurt.

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