Organic milk drinkers can soon take heart that the cows that produced their milk had a healthy, natural diet of pasture grass, if a new USDA rule is approved.
Already, organic milk must come from cows fed feed that was not grown using pesticides, chemical fertilizers or genetically modified seeds, and the cows themselves cannot be treated with hormones or antibiotics. Many consumers turn to organic milk to ensure that they're getting a product that's more natural, less likely to be laced with trace chemicals and more likely to be derived from a humanely raised cow.
The USDA proposal would add another requirement to the list of rules organic dairies must follow: During grazing season, cows must eat pasture grass.
Typically, dairy farms raise cows on grain a food that makes cows fatten up faster but which they did not evolve to eat. As a result, stomach ulcers, indigestion and other issues are common among dairy herds. The reliance on corn also increases demand for industrial-scale agriculture that, in general, relies heavily on pesticides, genetically modified seeds and chemical fertilizers (even if organic dairies must source their grain from organic corn farms). Further, the incidence of disease that often results from many cows eating an unnatural diet in concentrated feed lots has increased the use of antibiotics to ward off illness.
That's why many meat-eaters seek out grass-fed beef. It's more natural, simply.
Now organic milk drinkers may have the same assurance.
The public can weigh in on the proposal until Dec. 23.
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