Green Living QA: Why Is BGH In Milk Bad For Us And How Do I Avoid It?
07/18/2012 | 12:58 PM
Why is BGH in milk bad for us and how do I avoid it?
Dairy cows (like cattle raised for eating) are most often raised on feedlots, not on pasture, and are injected with bi-weekly hormones that produce three times as much milk as the old family cow of days gone by. One such hormone is bovine growth hormone (BGH, also known as BST, rbGH, and rbST). This hormone is genetically engineered and injected into dairy cows so they can also produce milk for nearly twice as long after calving. The FDA doesn’t require the treated milk to be labeled, so look for organic dairy products or those saying “Does Not Contain Growth Hormones.”
Milk from pastured (not pasteurized*) cows appears to be much healthier than conventional milk. The U.K. Independent reported in 2008 that grass-fed cows offer "60 per cent higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA9), which has been linked to a reduced risk of cancer." Also more abundant in milk from grass-fed cows were Omega-3s – 39 percent higher, and vitamin E – 33 percent higher. Unlike in the U.S., U.K. organic standards make sure that organic milk come from cows with access to grass when it's abundant in the summer.
To find out where you can buy milk from grass-fed cows, look at Eatwild.com’s state-by-state Directory of Farms which lists more than 800 pasture-based farms.
* Pasteurized and ultra-pasteurized is a high-heat process that "kills the milk," according to raw milk advocates, destroying its enzymes and many of its vitamins. It is done so manufacturers can sell milk over long distances.
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