The Mystery Continues
James Dudlicek
Editor
(847) 405-4009
dudlicekj@bnpmedia.com

Is organic milk really better for you? Or is it just a “feel-good” thing?  I guess it depends on what you want to believe.
Organic advocates seized upon a new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition over the summer that says organic dairy and meat products in a mother’s diet positively affect the nutritional quality of her breast milk. Specifically, a diet in which at least 90 percent of dairy and meat products are organic is shown to produce higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid believed to boost immunity, fight cancer and have a favorable influence on body fat composition, among other things.
However, organic may not be the reason. I’m aware of research suggesting that pastured cows — grass-fed, but not necessarily organic — produce milk with higher CLA levels. This was noted at an industry conference I attended this past summer by Dr. Rusty Bishop of the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, who argued there is no hard evidence that organic milk is better for you than conventional milk.
Building on that, a Swedish study released last month found that organic milk is not richer in vitamins and nutrients than conventional milk, contradicting an earlier study.
That brings us to Organic Valley, the wildly successful organic dairy marketing company that’s the subject of this month’s cover story. While encouraged by some recent studies, the folks there acknowledge there’s not enough science on their side to firmly support their deeply held belief that organic milk is better for you. And they’re not content to rest on opinion; Organic Valley’s member farmers help finance ongoing research to garner support for their cause.
But in the meantime, Organic Valley sees itself — and its peers in the industry — as offering choices to consumers in a segment that has long needed a shot in the arm.
And as I’ve said here before, there are a lot of people who are going to believe what they want to believe, regardless of science, and processors can’t afford to ignore what’s becoming a more significant part of their consumer base.
For those of you who may not have noticed, Dairy Field has launched its new and improved Web site. We’re now bringing you industry news on a more frequent basis, in a more reader-friendly format. You’ll also find my blog front and center, where you can read my rants on various issues. I encourage you to respond if the mood strikes — let’s get some debate going!
So please, join us at www.dairyfield.com .