When buying meat and dairy products does it matter to you how the animal was reared? Of course it does! I like to think that the cows that produce my milk have spent most of the year grazing fresh green grass. This is the natural way and just how nature intended.
I am a great believer that a happy and healthy animal makes great produce which I much prefer to consume.
I have been concerned about the low prices of regular milk in supermarkets and I have often wondered whether the nutritional quality of milk can still be maintained at such low prices.
I really don’t mind paying extra for something better and healthier and so for a while I did switch to buying Waitrose organic milk which was promoted as being from grass-fed cows (this is before the change in packaging). As a consumer who cares about where their food comes from I think it is important to be given the facts about the food I buy in order to make informed choice. So I decided to go on a fact finding mission to learn more about milk from grass-fed cows and organic label. I must admit that at the end of it, I am still confused and disillusioned about the more expensive milk.
Apparently the majority of British dairy cows eat grass in summer and silage (preserved grass or maize) and cereals, protein feeds, vitamins and minerals in winter months.1 Now the main thing that attracted me to the Waitrose organic milk was the fact that it was from grass-fed cows. So I found asking myself if most cows eat grass anyway then what was so special about their milk. It would have been more meaningful to know if the cows that produce their milk have spent more days than average in a year grazing outdoors. The use of something like the Pasture Promise grass-fed dairy logo would be much more useful to me. I think the Pasture Promise scheme is an excellent idea as at least it tells you that the cows have grazed for at least 180 days a year. I am surprised that it’s not being used more. Still I am unclear about what the organic label really means and if the nutritional value of the milk is any better than non-organic brand.
One thing I now know is that I prefer non-homogenised milk which is naturally nicer and tastes a lot better than homogenised milk. I am really glad that Waitrose organic milk is now available as unhomogenised.
If you care about what is happening to milk prices and about the quality of your milk then I would recommend buying British milk and dairy products with the Red Tractor logo. This at least guarantees that a dairy product has met high standards of food safety, environmental protection and animal health and welfare.
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