Earth-friendly Beverages for Baby: Organic Milk from Local Dairies

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?

Comments

  1. Yay first comment!

    Thanks for asking this really good question! It’s one that I’ve struggled with a lot.

    I have introduced very small amounts of milk, however because my baby is prone to eczema, I think I’ve narrowed the cause of the flares down to wheat or milk. Yogurt seems to be OK.

    I buy our organic milk locally and in comes in glass jars. It’s yummy! For cheese, I actually found organic “raw” cheese at the local supermarket. It lists only 3 ingredients so I’m hoping its a healthier choice than standard brands. It’s really delicious too.

    We live just outside the city (vancouver BC) so we also have access to raw milk products. These are something that I’ve been researching lately.

    My solution for the milk issue? I try to feed my daughter wild salmon and other foods high in vitamin D. Same goes for her calcium needs. I really like what the folks at Mothering.com suggest for nutrition.

    I agree with you about the soy milk. I’m leery about the GMO & estrogen issues with soy.
    I’m interested to hear what other moms have decided?

  2. Hi there,
    I’ve heard that soy milk isn’t all that great because it’s overly processed but almond milk is okay because it come straight from the source. My son just started drinking goat millk a month ago and loves it. Goat milk is easier to digest and is naturally homogenized. We have yet to find a local goat farmer in town…they’re several but none that are actuallly sell it. We’re still looking…keeping my fingers crossed. For now, we purchase it at the store- we live in Ca and the farm it’s from is about 4 hrs. north of us! Here’s more info on goat milk…
    http://www.crohns.net/Miva/education/aboutgoatsmilk.shtml
    Hope this helps.

  3. We are in a similar situation to what you described, we have access to local milk but it is not organic.

    The dairy farm we get milk from is next to the organic farm we get our CSA from and I’ve spoken to the owners of both farms about the fact that Hatcher milk is not organic. Their position is that their cows are like part of their family, and sometimes homeopathic or naturopathic methods do not work for things like mastitis, so they will administer anti-biotics in those cases. At an organic dairy farm the cows would have to be “put down” otherwise b/c under no circumstances can anti-biotics be administered. This makes sense to me, and I know that the cows are in the pasture most of the day and are healthy and happy. That’s good enough for me!

  4. I do understand the pros and cons of cow’s milk, but when you have a picky eater, there is nary a kid who doesn’t like milk and there is a lot of sustenance in one cup of the stuff. I figure if I can get my little guy to eat whole grain bread (that’s all he’s offered, at home at least), peanut butter and milk, he won’t die of malnutrition. He does also eat apples now, will suck on a piece of broccoli if there’s ranch dressing all over it, and will take a bite of a carrot. In fact, lately he will eat the spaghetti WITH the sauce. This is progress. One day, when I can really talk about the nitty gritty of nutrition with him, I know he will care about eating right because this kid is nothing if he isn’t conscientious. In the meantime, I count on his flintstone’s daily and milk to fill in the gaps. As far as Organic, I’m not 100% convinced that this is necessary. For a while I was buying organic but lately it feels cost prohibitive. A microbiologist friend of mine insists organic is a waste of money. I don’t know if he’s right, but I use that as my excuse. It is literally twice the price in stores where I shop.

  5. This is a subject I have thought about a lot since my son came down with his first nasy stomach flu 5 days before his first birthday and a few weeks after weaning. In my typical way, I did a lot of internet research and found a recent medical case study of two upper middle class children who got rickets and one who had a different very rare nutritional disease because their parents were replacing milk with non-dairy substitutes. It is very hard to get the nutrients in milk from other sources. Not to say it can’t be done.

    We’ve been buying Pacific Village organic milk. http://www.newseasonsmarket.com/dynamicContent.aspx?loc=1001&subloc=1&menuId=1003
    It is local and a lot more affordable than other brands. I’m not sure if it is available anywhere besides New Seasons Markets.

  6. It’s so interesting reading everyone’s replies. It seems like there are two major issues most of us are grappling with: the health issue and the environmental issue.

    Monica–thanks for writing your first comment! What are the advantages of raw dairy products? I imagine they are packed with more vitamins and minerals and are closer to their natural state, but you always hear about the importance of pasturization. (And pregnant women are advised not to eat unpasturized dairy products, so I thought it would be the same for small children.) I’d be interested in hearing more about that!

    La Mama Naturale–I did not know that goat milk was naturally homogenized, and the health benefits seem great. Four hours away sounds pretty good from an environmental standpoint . . . like I said, much of the organic milk I was finding came from way across the country.

    Angel Funk–I was careful to look for RBST-free milk, but I hadn’t even thought of cows getting anti-biotics. I will have to look into that!

    Eileen, my daughter is a picky eater, too, so I would never give up milk, which she does love. As far as organic milk being better than conventional, I guess I was looking at that as an environmental issue. Organic cows would be eating grass not treated with pesticides, wouldn’t have chemicals or hormones injected into them, etc. From an environmental standpoint, I have decided that hormone-free is important but that local milk is better for the planet than faraway organic milk. Of course, this was just my own rationalization for not buying organic milk. Like you, I didn’t want to pay twice as much for it.

    Joie, I also felt like regular milk offered more nutrition than its substitutes. Most soy milk has sugar added, and there is that estrogen thing to worry about. Almond milk seems like a better choice, although I believe it has sugar in it, too. Has anyone tried making almond milk? It’s supposed to be pretty easy. I have tried Pacific Village, which wasn’t available when I was first looking for organic + local milk. Now it is for us Oregonians.

    Thanks for all the comments–keep them coming!

  7. Hi Rebecca,
    Almond milk is super easy to make!!You soak a 1 cup or more of almonds overnight then blend until smooth- with 3 cups of water or more depending- strain out the excess put that back into the blender and add vanilla and honey to sweeten. If you make it you won’t have to worry about all the extra sugar. It tastes SO GOOD homemade. Save the pulp to spread on sandwiches or add to pancakes and breads…yum! I may have to post on this sometime…try it out and let me know if you do! And, I think I have my husband convinced we need a goat!!! I’m so excited. My son is 13 mos. so he’s really only drinking it minimally and nursing still remains the number one choice!!! ; )

  8. I will have to try that almond milk recipe. Thanks! About how long does it last in the refrigerator? I like that you can also use up the leftover pulp–no waste!

  9. Good ?- about 5 days…you’ll want to make sure it gets used. It’s really yummy though. Thanks for coming by the site. I just freecycled the 2 exersaucers yesterday in fact.. and through that adventure found a playdate! Yipee. You’re so right though, you can’t expect your family and friends to get them exacty what you asked them to. We can only drop hints and try, right! 🙂

  10. Rebecca,
    I’m certainly not an expert on raw milk!
    I only started taking a look at it after reading an article at Dr. Mercola and all the comments he got about it. I’ll try to find you the link, it’s interesting stuff.

    I question a lot of what our institutions say is “healthy” for us. I’ve know for years that milk and milk products are related to so many illnesses (allergies, insensitivities, asthma, colon disorders, skin issues etc) and that many people receive relief as soon as they cut them out of their diet. I certainly saw an improvement.

    I spoke with a local raw milk supplier and she said that pasturization is only necessary due to the massive industry that exists and the filthy environment the cows live in. The cows are milked at such a rate that it is unprofitable for each cow’s teats to be washed before milking to remove feces. Her cows live on grass and are individually washed before milking.

    Also on a side note, the pasturization and germ theories that dominate our society go hand in hand thanks to Louis Pasteur. Many believe this is where we lost our way when understanding how the body works and how we can be independently healthy, and why we allow big pharma to dominate our health system.

    Big topics for a little old bottle of milk! Thanks for your question.

  11. La Mama Naturale–I am sure I could manage to use up homemade almond milk in five days. I will give it a try and maybe even report back on the Green Baby Guide!

    Monica, you have given me quite an education. When my daughter turned one, I latched on to the “local vs. organic” debate without really considering other options, like raw milk or goat milk. VERY interesting!

  12. Hi ladies!

    This is an old thread so I can still find a few opinions.

    I have a 9 month old. I was unable to nurse her – a long story – so devastating for her sake!

    She could not tolerate any formula except a prescription only variety – the first ingredient is corn syrup. It is awful. It was the only one that didn’t cause her tummy troubles. It does cause congestion but it is getting a touch better since she is taking in less and less now that she is on solids:

    kale, broccoli, green beans, peas, avocado, mango, blueberries, squashes, organic chicken and eggs and several others!

    That said, what are your thoughts on homemade almond and/or coconut milk w/ necessary additives such as brown rice protein, a liquid multi, flax ect to replace her formula? I know there isn’t much out there in regards to this thought as she has not reached a year yet – but I’ve been searching tirelessly for a suitable dairy free alternative homemade formula for her.

    Thank you for any thoughts!

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