We don’t buy everything organic. Instead, we pick and choose which groceries we’ll buy organic and which we’ll buy conventional. We usually buy organic fruits and vegetables, and we always, always buy organic dairy.
So, what’s the real difference between organic and conventional dairy? What does ‘organic dairy’ even mean, practically speaking?
Organic basically means fewer chemicals, including herbicides, fertilizers, pesticides, and hormones. Farmers who produce organic dairy cannot use conventional farming techniques on their animals; for example, organic dairy cows cannot be given antibiotics or growth hormones.
Animals that produce organic dairy cannot be totally confined and must have access to the outdoors all year long (that doesn’t necessarily mean they go outside, but they must have access). Animals that graze (like goats, sheep, and cows) must have access to pasture during their grazing season.
In contrast, conventional dairy-producing animals can given antibiotics. Conventional dairy cows can also receive growth hormones. Furthermore, animals may be housed entirely indoors.
I don’t know about you, but when it comes to what option I’d rather support (and feed my family), organic dairy is the clear winner. Better for the Earth, better for the animals, and better for our bodies.