As soon as my daughter turned one, I wanted to introduce her to whole milk. Like many other parents, I wanted her to have hormone-free milk, so that meant paying more and buying organic. Right? I like to save money, but organic milk costs a lot more than conventional milk–sometimes up to twice as much. There was also something else I wondered about: all the organic milk I found on the shelves came from other states–some as far as Ohio! Part of the reason I tried to buy organic foods was that I wanted to help the environment, but buying something that needed to be ultra-pasteurized and taken on a thousand-mile road trip wouldn’t be any better for planet Earth than buying conventional milk from a local dairy. In fact, it would probably be worse.
Ideally, I’d be able to find milk that was both organic and local. At the time, this was not an option. I had to choose, and I ended up deciding that supporting a local, non-organic dairy was a better choice than buying organic milk that came from far away, considering my local dairy did not use hormones. Plus, at under $3 a gallon, it was more affordable than many of the other brands on the supermarket shelves. Now, just one year later, Alpenrose dairy has gone organic, so it’s possible to have local organic milk here in Portland.
Of course, not everyone plans to introduce cow’s milk to baby’s diet. Joy’s son, Roscoe, has some food allergies and intolerances. She continued to breast feed him after a year and offered him soymilk as an additional beverage. Now that he’s older, he can tolerate cow’s milk, which Joy buys from an organic dairy. Because Audrey is so small, I was glad she took to whole milk, which comes packed with vitamins, fat, and calories. (Read my “Fattening Baby, Naturally” post for more baby-fattening ideas.) Although cow’s milk is not an environmentally or nutritionally perfect food, I opted to introduce it to my baby’s diet over alternatives such as soy or almond milk.
Some questions for our readers: Do you plan to introduce cow’s milk when your baby turns one? What alternatives to cow’s milk, if any, have you tried? What are your thoughts on conventional, organic, and local milk products?