Study shows organic milk is healthier

7:35 PM, Dec 10, 2013   |    comments
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FREEPORT, Maine (NECN) -- A new study on milk is making the rounds, and it's fueling the ongoing debate over organic vs. conventional foods.

The study, done by researchers at Washington State University, concluded that organic milk is healthier. While that's good news for organic dairy farmers, it may worry cash-strapped consumers.

When Hanna Graham of Pownal, Maine goes grocery shopping, she always grabsa container of organic milk.

"I figure I can pay the the doctor later or pay the grocery store. Organic keeps us healthy," she said.

The new study, seems to confirm her thinking. After sampling milk from 400 farms over 18 months, the research showed organic milk had higher levels of heart-healthy fatty acids than conventional milk.

Organic dairy farmer Luke Cruk, who milks 16 cows at the Webb Family Farm, says he's not surprised.

"Cows are made to eat grass. The most natural thing for them do do is be on a pasture eating grass.

The Webb Family Farm is one of 13 certified organic farms in Maine that supply milk to Maine's Own Organic Milk Company, better known as "MOO" milk. Company COO Bob Sessums says the study may help, but there's already a growing thirst for the product.

"Right now, my market is growing by 1% a week, so i'm growing by half every year. The demand is there," said Sessums.
But organic milk drinker are still a small minority, roughly 7%, mainly because of the cost.

At $6 a gallon, organic milk is nearly twice the price of conventional milk.  Jami Baddershall, with the Maine Dairy Nutrition Council, says consumer shouldn't be overly concerned if they can't buy organic. She says all milk provides high quality protein and vitamins A and D.

"You're still getting that complete nutritional package from conventional milk, whichever you choose is going to be safe and healthy," she said.

And right now, she adds few consumers are getting the 3 daily dairy servings recommended by the USDA. She says if the study gets more people down the dairy aisle, it's a win, win.

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