In a peer-reviewed paper published today in Food Science and Nutrition, researchers found that 100 percent grass-fed, organic whole milk has exceptional levels of two important nutrients. The study analyzed milk from cows who are fed a diet that is exclusively grass and legume forage, with no grain rations*, and compared it to conventional whole milk. More than 1,100 samples of Organic Valley whole Grassmilk were taken over a three-year period from Organic Valley farmers who specialize in producing grass-fed, grain-free dairy.
Those samples proved that cows who are fed a grain-free diet composed of forages such as alfalfa and clover produce milk with enormous potential benefits for humans. Why? Because of the direct relationship between what cows eat and the levels of essential fatty acids in their milk. In other words, when cows eat well, so do humans.
The science shows that whole milk from organically managed cows fed an essentially 100 percent grass- and legume-based diet:
- Contains 147 percent more omega-3s than conventional whole milk, and 52 percent more omega 3s than organic whole milk.
- Contains 125 percent higher Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) than conventional whole milk and 90 percent higher CLA than organic whole milk.
- Contains a balanced 1:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3s are beneficial fats that have been linked to brain and eye health, especially in young children and developing fetuses. Studies have shown that CLA can boost immunity, heart health and cancer prevention. Because Americans consume, on average, at least three servings of dairy products each day, a simple switch to organic grass-fed dairy could provide more nutrients, in addition to those associated with consumption of other types of milk.
“We see our cows thrive when they are on a grain-free diet and when they spend maximum time grazing on diverse pasture grasses growing in healthy soil,” said Kevin Mahalko, an Organic Valley Grassmilk farmer who is one of the nation’s foremost grazing experts. “So our cooperative wanted to analyze whether this special way of farming results in special milk. I’m not surprised that my herd’s health and happiness makes extraordinary milk.”
The peer-reviewed paper relied on an accredited independent laboratory for the fatty acid analysis. It was written by a team of scientists and researchers, in cooperation with experts at CROPP Cooperative, the farmer-owned cooperative that produces Organic Valley milk. The team included Dr. Charles Benbrook (Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University), Dr. Don Davis (University of Texas-Austin, retired), Dr. Brad Heins (University of Minnesota-Morris), Dr. Carlo Leifert (Newcastle University, England), Dr. Gillian Butler (Newcastle University) and Dr. Marcin Baranski (Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark). Organic Valley provided samples and funding for the research, including a grant from the Farmers Advocating for Organic (FAFO) program, which Organic Valley farmers fund through voluntary contributions.
Organic Valley is the largest supplier of 100 percent grass-fed organic dairy in the U.S. and the leading retail brand of organic grass-fed products—including milk, cheese and yogurt lines under the Grassmilk brand. The cooperative has a long history of commitment to grass-fed dairy. In 2011, Organic Valley was the first national brand to launch 100 percent grass-fed milk nationwide and trademarked the Grassmilk term. Since then, the co-op has grown its Grassmilk network to 151 organic family farms across the country, from California to Vermont. That growth has barely kept up with consumer demand. Almost four in five natural and organic consumers now purchase grass-fed dairy.
To read more about the study, and find links to download it, go to: https://www.organicvalley.coop/resources/organic-grass-fed-milk-nutrition/
* “100 percent grass-fed” or “Grassmilk” cows in this study were never given grain rations, but may have received a ration including necessary mineral supplements and/or small amounts of molasses as a seasonal energy source.
Organic Valley is America’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nation’s leading organic brands. Organized in 1988, it represents more than 2,000 farmers in 35 U.S. states, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdomand achieved $1.1 billion in 2016 sales. Focused on its founding mission of saving family farms through organic farming, Organic Valley produces a wide range of organic dairy, soy, egg and produce products. With its regional model, milk is produced, bottled and distributed right in the region where it is farmed to ensure fewer miles from farm to table and to support our local economies. For further information visit www.organicvalley.coop. Organic Valley is also on Twitter (@OrganicValley) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/OrganicValley).