Where is my Milk From: Decoding Milk Labels
rBST-free. Hormone-free. Organic. What does it all mean? The labels found in the dairy case are are almost never identical. What's more, the price of milk varies widely by brand and type. So, I took a trip to my local Food Lion in Ashland, Va. to sort it all out. Here’s what I found:
Food Lion Whole Milk Cost: $2.79/gallon Label: Our farmers have pledged to not to use artificial growth hormones. Source: Maola / Marva Maid Dairy in Newport News, Virginia (Plant #51-4108)
Maola Whole Milk Cost: $3.79/gallon Label: Our farmers guarantee: No artificial growth hormones. Source: Maola / Marva Maid Dairy in Newport News, Virginia (Plant #51-4108)
Nature's Place Organic Whole Milk Cost: $5.99/gallon Label: No claim was made on the label regarding hormones. Source: Aurora Organic Dairy in Platteville, Colorado (Plant #08-29)
Horizon Organic Whole Milk Cost: $6.99/ gallon Label: Horizon Organic means no added hormones. Source: Winder Cache Valley in Richmond, Utah (Plant #49-314)
So, what does it all that mean? The Food Lion milk and Maola milk came from the same plant in Newport News. It is the same milk. The only difference in this milk is the logo on the container and the price. Both were produced by dairy farmers who have signed an affidavit pledging not to use rBST treatment on milk cows. The milk from our farm typically goes to the Marva Maid plant in Newport News. If you're living in the Greater Richmond area and are purchasing this milk, you know you're supporting local dairy farmers.
All milk is tested for antibiotic residue before it is processed. So, if the conventional milk is free of growth hormones and antibiotics, what is different about the organic milk? Mainly, the organic milk comes from cows that have been fed certified organic feed and those cows cannot receive antibiotic treatments at any point in their life. Conventional dairy cows, like ours, are given antibiotics only when necessary to recover from illness and only under the direction of our veterinarian. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics maintains there isn’t any major nutritional difference between milk that was produced organically or conventionally.
Are you curious about the origin of your favorite brand of milk? You can visit Where Is My Milk From and enter the code stamped on your milk to find out more. No matter which milk you choose, you can be assured that all pasteurized milk is safe, delicious and nutritious.