All Natural, Organic, Pasture Raised, No Artificial Ingredients, Gluten Free, Local, GMO Free, Raw, Ultra Pasteurized; these are examples of some of the words used to entice us as we shop for the best food possible for ourselves and our families. What does it all really mean?
Food producers are in the business to feed people and many are looking to feed us well and make us happy. Yet they also have to keep a healthy bottom line for their companies. So the marketing department is a very important piece to being competitive on the grocery store shelves. Those enticing phrases on the product labels are there to catch our attention and appeal to our desire to feed ourselves the healthiest foods available.
The marketing department has hit the dairy section too. Fresh, Local, Organic, More Protein, 100% Grass Grazed; there are many options to choose from. There is an important thing to learn here. Fresh and local are important if you truly want the best milk for your family, yet you should research your local farms to learn more about their farming practices. If you like what you see, then that is a great choice. If you really want the healthiest milk with the most nutrition and flavor, choosing organic is the best option.
Organic and local, grass grazed and 100% grass grazed, what does it all mean. If you live in the Northeast and the label says grass grazed or 100% grass grazed, then the cows are out on pasture approximately from May to November. In the winter months, the cows do live outdoors; they grow wonderful shaggy coats and are around the barns with cover to get out of the weather as needed. They eat organic hay grown for them all summer. Some organic dairies will supplement the winter diet with a power pack of organic legumes and grains. Grass and hay are very high in protein, so as needed, a supplement of good fats helps to keep the gals happy and heathy.
Many organic brands are also cooperatives with the milk being sourced from many organic farms. The organic brand may be considered a local brand, just know that the farms sending their milk to this brand may be located all over the Northeast. Also, look to see if the milks are ultra pasteurized or just pasteurized. Ultra pasteurization tends to not only cook out more nutrition, but flavor as well.
A couple more thoughts; gluten is never found in pure milk. Check the ingredients of the flavored milks to make sure there are no crazy ingredients that contain gluten. Also, butter made from pure heavy cream will not contain gluten, again, read the ingredients labels. One more, certified organic is always GMO free, conventional dairies may feed their cows GMO grains.
I have met some customers who shop at large grocery store chains who have very high standards around the food they will stock on their shelves. It can be very easy to trust that everything on the shelves is truly the best product for us. Beware, again those enticing labels and catchwords may lead you to buy something that isn't the healthiest. It may take more time, but doing a bit of research on that new product and the farming practices that go into producing it will make you a more informed shopper.
Marketing is very important to the success of all businesses, food or otherwise. It is of the utmost importance to us and our good health to spend a little more time looking deeper into what those labels are selling us.