One of the most common questions I receive is “What do you think about organic milk?” Since I am allergic to milk protein, organic or non-organic makes no difference to me, I simply avoid the white stuff. However, I always state that if you are going to choose dairy, organic or at the very least hormone and antibiotic-free products may be the best choice. Unfortunately, recent developments may cause me to alter my response. Not because those selections wouldn’t be the best option in an ideal world, but because determining dairy products that meet organic or antibiotic and hormone-free standards is becoming increasingly difficult for consumers.
In the past month, national headlines have alerted us to major lawsuits against Aurora Organic Dairy, claiming that the company has continued to violate more than a dozen organic standards. Aurora is a true giant in the organic dairy world, supplying milk products to mega-marts across our consumerist country. These lawsuits have brought Costco, Wal-Mart, Target, Safeway, and even our beloved “natural market” Wild Oats (now Whole Foods) under fire for allegedly selling non-organic milk under an organic label.
This story caused me to raise an eyebrow, but the next bit of news dropped my jaw. Beginning on February 1, 2008 the state of Pennsylvania will ban labels on dairy products that claim to be rBGH, pesticide and antibiotic free. Consumers in the cheesesteak capital will no longer be able to distinguish between dairy products containing hormones and antibiotics, and those that do not. New Jersey and Ohio are in the process of considering this ban as well.
You may be wondering who on earth would benefit from such a strange piece of legislation. Monsanto would. If you haven’t heard of them, then I advise a google search or two. This super-corp sells its antibiotics, hormones, and GMO seeds to farmers across the land.
Alas, Monsanto’s budget for lobbying is a tad larger than the average healthy household. As these large corporations continue to intervene with our food supply, and legislation allows the veil to become less transparent, consumers are left at their mercy. I don’t know about you, but the inability to know what is in my food is a very scary thought.
In the end, I think this website may see another surge of popularity. We’re already frequented by thousands of milk allergic, vegan, and lactose intolerant consumers each month. But we might see a new group of dairy-free information seekers – those who feel that they can no longer trust the dairy supply.
Update: Pennsylvania rescinded the controversial law banning rBGH-free labels following a massive backlash from dairy companies and consumer advocates. But other states are still considering legislation.