Organic Valley is coming out with “grass milk.”
No, this isn’t milk made from grass, in the spirit of almondmilk, soymilk or ricemilk. It’s milk made by cows fed exclusively grass.
Though I don’t drink milk, I welcome this news.
Grass matters not only because it’s much easier on a cow’s digestion system than the corn and soy that’s fed to most of American cattle, but also because it produces milk with a more natural nutritional profile than grain-fed milk. In particular, grass-fed cow’s milk has higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acids, both found to be out of balance in many Americans’ diets, than grain-fed milk. This brings grass-fed milk back toward the natural composition it had during most of the ten thousand years during which humans have consumed it. And it helps to balance our our omega-3 to omega-6 intake, which grain-fed milk skews toward omega-6 side. Omega-6 tends to cause inflammation in our bodies, a key factor in heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma and arthritis.
The new “grass milk” should also help call attention to the fact that even organic milk is not necessarily purely grass-fed. Under current organic regulations, for milk to be “organic,” it must come from cows pastured about 30% of the year (or somewhat more in favorable growing regions as in California). They can be fed grains the rest of the year. This is a far cry from Organic Valley’s new product, which comes from cows either pastured or hay-fed 100% of the year.
It’s exciting to be able to find a product that’s really produced right. Maybe this can help move us toward a diet where our animal products have the nutritional composition they’re supposed to have, and where doctors need no longer advise us to reduce our consumption.