Is our milk certified organic? A detailed breakdown.
Updated: Mar 26, 2020
One questions we receive with some frequency is: is your milk organic? The short, most direct answer is no our milk is not certified organic. We feel, respectfully, the more important question is why is your milk not certified organic and what are the pros and cons to certified organic milk vs our milk. We have included information on three informative topics to help answer these questions - Animal Husbandry, Processing and a Conclusion.
1. Artificial Hormones - organic milk means the cows cannot be given any growth hormones (rBST). Our cows are also never given any growth hormones or any other hormones or production inducing chemicals.
Our cows are never given artificial hormones - the same as organic milk.
2. Antibiotics - Milk produced by cows that are certified organic cannot be given antibiotics. This means if they become sick and antibiotics are the only remedy to restore their health - they have to either be sold or removed permanently from the herd. In our herd of cows we isolate a sick cow and if antibiotics are necessary to improve her health and prevent suffering - we will administer them without hesitation. During the course of antibiotic treatment, she is isolated from the herd and milking pool and are not reintroduced until she has a zero trace of residual antibiotics in her milk. If your child or pet becomes sick we hope you would not hesitate to administer antibiotics to cure their ailment. We feel the exact same way about our herd we are entrusted to look over.
Our milk is routinely tested and contains zero trace of antibiotics - the same as organic milk.
3. Grazing - There's a wide perception that cows from organic farms are always grazed in open pastures. Like other industries, farms are rapidly consolidating and it's not uncommon for organic cows to never have access to pastures and milked on industrial sized operations of 3,000+ cows in a herd. Some organic cows never have access to open pastures in their entire life. Our cows are free to graze as weather permits in our pastures in Hyrum, UT.
Our cows graze in pastures, weather permitting - organic cows may or may not have access to pastures.
4. Organic Feed - Cows producing organic milk must be given 100% organic certified grains year round. They can never be given conventionally raised feed. Our cows, however, graze as weather permits - during winter months and times when additional supplemental nutrition is needed our feed is not always certified organic. Instead, we buy local feed that is often conventionally produced from local farms. We have strong bonds with our farmers and we know they are outstanding families who care about quality.
Our cows are permitted to graze seasonally and supplemented by local farms where the feed may not always be 100% organic - organic cows are ALWAYS fed 100% organic feed.
5. Pasteurization - The majority of organic milk is pasteurized at 280 degrees or higher, while our milk is pasteurized under 170 degrees. The reason organic milk is pasteurized at such a high temperature is the shelf life can be extended months beyond what would be natural so it can be shipped all over the country. Our milk is only pasteurized enough to kill any natural pathogens that could remain naturally in unpasteurized (raw) milk. We distribute our milk within 72 hours (72 hours moo to you!!) from milking so we do not need to heat our milk to such a high temperature. Although there are no conclusive scientific studies - we encourage you to do research - there are sources that claim more of the "good enzymes" remain when heated at a lower temperature.
Because we deliver within 72 hours our milk is pasteurized at a lower temperature - organic milk is pasteurized at a much higher temp to withstand a longer shelf life.
6. Cold Separation - This topic is more technical but we will attempt to break it down simply... When milk is processed for standardization (skim, 1%, 2% and whole), the milk is separated into: skim milk and cream. To remain skim milk - the cream is not added back in, for the other varieties (1%, 2% and whole) it is blended back for the specific fat content desired. Nearly every larger dairy (and many smaller ones) separate out the cream when their milk is in the pasteurization process - at a temp of over 200 degrees. This allows the same separator equipment to process twice as much milk per hour as well as removing many non-fat solids (everything in the milk besides cream and water) in the milk. At Wasatch Milk when we process our milk we separate only a few degrees above freezing. Meaning? Our milk is processed slower and more non-fat solids remain, resulting in a creamier milk with a more satisfying smooth milk feel. Have you ever looked a skim milk from a large dairy and saw a slight blue tint to it and noticed a watery taste? This very likely because it was hot separated. When it comes to processing the largest difference in the taste and texture of milk is that it is separated cold.
Our milk is separated cold - organic milk is almost exclusively separated hot.
7. Taste - of course it's totally subjective but we guarantee our milk will taste better than any other milk you can buy in the region. We offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee - if you don't love your milk we will give you a full refund. We often hear our skim milk taste like 2% or whole milk from other dairies due to its creaminess. Also, our treatment of our cows, support of local feed, pasteurization methods, plant cleanliness and cold separation lead to a better tasting, high quality milk.
Subjectively - we invite you to try our milk against any organic milk (or conventional) - if it is not absolutely better tasting - we will refund your money.
These are the main components of what makes milk organic vs conventional. We are confident our process is superior to organic milk in many ways with the only negative difference potentially being: the feed for our cows is not always certified organic. Here is a study from Oregon University explaining the differences found in organic vs conventional milk in regards to the feed fed to the cattle.
We understand it's an important and very personal decision on what you feed yourself and your family and we are always here to help answer any questions you have. We hope you find this information informative and feel free to let us know your thoughts and we will answer them.
Andrew and Samantha Stolworthy
Owners - Wasatch Milk