ORGANIC MILK MOO-VING UP FAST.Byline: Marian Burros The New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of Times
For years, people thought of milk as the perfect food - perfectly healthful health·ful
1. Conducive to good health; salutary.
healthful·ness n. and perfectly safe. They were wrong on both counts.
The knowledge that milk does not supply all the necessary nutrients for a good diet came long before the knowledge that cow's milk can contain antibiotics, environmental contaminants and growth hormones growth hormone or somatotropin (sōmăt'ətrō`pən), glycoprotein hormone released by the anterior pituitary gland that is necessary for normal skeletal growth in humans (see protein). .
Enter organic milk. Three years ago, sales were too slight to tally; now, they total about $30 million annually and are growing rapidly. The increased interest in organic milk joins the boom in organic foods, which have increased in sales by 20 percent for each of the last two years.
Some people began turning to organic milk about five years ago, when there were revelations of antibiotic residues in milk. In 1993, when the government approved the use of rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone bovine growth hormone
A naturally occurring hormone of cattle that regulates growth and milk production. It may also be produced artificially by genetic engineering techniques and administered to cows to increase milk production. ) to increase milk production, despite many questions about its safety for both cows and humans, others became interested in milk produced the old-fashioned way.
``I certainly think rBGH helped us,'' said Bunny Flint, who with her husband, Peter, began selling organic milk in 1992 to 10 stores near their farm in Tunbridge, Vt. ``It pushed people into the awareness zone.'' The Flints' company, the Organic Cow of Vermont, now sells milk from Vermont to North Carolina North Carolina, state in the SE United States. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean (E), South Carolina and Georgia (S), Tennessee (W), and Virginia (N). Facts and Figures
Area, 52,586 sq mi (136,198 sq km). Pop. . ``Our sales went up 25 percent in one month when rBGH was introduced,'' she said.
In focus groups, organic is perceived as healthier and better than conventional food, says Carole Roquemore, the director of corporate communications Corporate communications is the process of facilitating information and knowledge exchanges with internal and key external groups and individuals that have a direct relationship with an enterprise. for Alta-Dena, a California dairy that began selling organic milk in July in aseptic aseptic /asep·tic/ (-tik) free from infection or septic material.
Of, relating to, or characterized by asepsis. packaging, which gives it a longer shelf life. ``Consumers think that back to nature is healthier, and the label gives them a sense of assurance,'' she said.
Katherine DiMatteo, the executive director of the Organic Trade Association in Greenfield, Mass., says that the sales of organic milk skyrocketed because the use of rBGH is controversial. ``Buying organic milk was a way for people not to have to figure out whether rBGH was safe, especially since the milk couldn't be labeled to say whether it had rBGH in it or not,'' she said.
The question of labeling since has been resolved, and some milk producers who sell conventional milk do label their milk as free of the synthetic growth hormone. Others, like Ronnybrook, do not use rBGH but do not put that information on the label. Alan Dudish Dud´ish
a. 1. Like, or characterized of, a dude. , corporate vice president for grocery merchandise at the Grand Union Co., says many factors account for the growth of organic milk. ``It's more than just an rBGH issue,'' he said, ``because there is milk people can buy that is certified as rBGH-free and we are still selling a lot of organic milk.
``People are willing to pay when they feel a product is safer,'' he added. Organic milk accounts for just less than 5 percent of Grand Union's milk sales. At A&P, which also owns Food Emporium and Waldbaum stores, sales of organic milk have ``moved up dramatically'' in the last six months, said Michael Rourke, a senior vice president at A&P.
In addition to the Organic Cow of Vermont, there are six other producers who sell fresh, pasteurized pas·teur·ize
tr.v. pas·teur·ized, pas·teur·iz·ing, pas·teur·iz·es
To subject (a beverage or other food) to pasteurization.
pas organic milk either regionally or nationally. There are another two who sell organic milk with extended shelf life and some small producers who sell fresh organic milk locally. The largest fresh organic milk producer is Horizon Organic Dairy, which is credited with making organic milk available nationally.
``They realized there was a lot of organic milk out there when they were buying milk for their yogurt,'' DiMatteo said. Unlike conventional fresh milk, which is sold regionally, Horizon is sold nationwide.. The company, with headquarters in Boulder, Colo., is building a farm in Maryland because a large part of its business is in the East.
``There is not enough organic milk to satisfy demand,'' said Mark Retzloff, the president of Horizon. ``By July of next year, we will have doubled our herd.''
The typical customer, Retzloff says, is a woman with children who has a college education and above-average income and is willing to spend the money. There is a significant price difference between organic milk - $2.29 to $2.79 a half-gallon - and conventional milk, about $1.59 and often less on special.
Most people who produce organic milk say they have a strong interest in the environment and the humane treatment of animals. ``This is not factory farming factory farming
System of modern animal farming designed to yield the most meat, milk, and eggs in the least amount of time and space possible. The term, descriptive of standard farming practice in the U.S. ,'' Bunny Flint said. ``Cows are humanely treated.''
Norman MacArthur, a retired organic chemist and a partner in a company whose organic milk is sold on the East Coast, including New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. , under the Natural by Nature label, says he has always been interested in farming and the environment. ``An organic farm isn't going to be worn out and can be passed down to the next generation,'' he said.
Some farmers and producers think their organic product tastes quite different from conventional milk; others say it is all the same. Roquemore of Alta Dena Alta Dena, founded in 1945, is a dairy located in the City of Industry, California. History
Alta Dena Dairy was founded in 1945 by the Stueve family. It earned the "Certified Dairy" status in 1953 from the American Association of Milk Commissions. says she thinks the milk tastes better because ``the cows are fed more like cows were fed 50 or 60 years ago.'' In addition, she said, ``not so much protein is pushed on them and they are more on grass.''
It will be awhile before the price of organic milk is more in line with conventional milk. It has taken other organic produce 25 years to narrow the price gap with conventional produce.
Organic milk costs more to produce for several reasons: organic feed is more costly; the organic certification Organic certification is a certification process for producers of organic food and other organic agricultural products. In general, any business directly involved in food production can be certified, including seed suppliers, farmers, food processors, retailers and restaurants. process is an additional expense; the number of cows that have to be culled from the herd because they are ill and require antibiotics is much greater than in a conventional herd; the businesses are new and there are start-up costs, and, in many cases, the milk must travel greater distances to get to market than does conventional milk. In addition, the cows' pasture land must be free of all chemical compounds such as herbicides and, of course, the cows cannot have been injected with growth hormones.
Almost all the companies offer organic milk as both nonfat non·fat
Lacking fat solids or having the fat content removed. and whole, as well as either 1 percent or 2 percent. Some also offer unhomogenized milk, chocolate milk, buttermilk buttermilk
residual fluid after removal of fat from milk in butter manufacture; a protein-rich supplement fed to pigs. , half-and-half, heavy cream, eggnog (in season), butter, cheeses and yogurt.