What is Organic Milk? Should You Chug it or Chuck it?
In a country like India, that largely eats a vegetable-based diet, milk is the main source of animal protein.
(1 June is observed as World Milk Day throughout the world to increase awareness about milk and its importance as a global food.)
I want to drink a glass of milk, said no kid ever! But in every Indian household, two glasses of milk a day is almost mandatory for children. Over generations, stories of mothers and grandmothers forcing milk down the throats of hapless children have been legendary.
For 8-year-old Rohan, it’s a double whammy. His body is calcium deficient. So along with the prescribed calcium supplements, his mother also ensures that he has at least 3 glasses of farm fresh milk every day.
We always knew that our milkman mixed water in the milk he delivered. So, a few months back, we decided to switch to farm milk so that at least the nutritional value of the milk remains intact. It is a little expensive but it’s okay as long as my family members remain healthy.SP Rajlaxmi
In a country that largely eats a vegetable-based diet, milk is the main source of animal protein. So it’s important that the milk that is consumed is unadulterated and healthy.
This need for unadulterated and fresh milk has led to a gradual growth of structured organic dairy farms throughout the country.
What is Organic Milk?
Organic dals, organic vegetables, organic milk?
The term ‘organic milk’ refers to the milk produced by livestock which is fed pesticide-free and fertiliser-free fodder. The livestock is not injected with antibiotics or any other medicine that is known to artificially increase milk production.
Deepak Raj, Vice President of Binsar Farms in Sonepat, Haryana believes that the purity of milk produced largely depends on what the livestock is fed. Fodder rich in nutrients will ensure high-quality milk.
We ensure year-round supply of green fodder, which is rich in protein and starch. Grains like maize, wheat provide rich nutrition to the cows and enriches the quality of the milk they produce. Free stall system in the farm helps the cows to eat whenever they are hungry so their milk production isn’t hampered.Deepak Raj
The livestock is allowed to graze on open fields that are clear of any fertilizers and pesticides. They are also milked using automated machines that transfer the milk produced directly to the pasteurisation chambers. This ensures no manual contamination and preserves the nutrient quotient of the milk.
Benefits of Naturally Produced Milk
Drinking unadulterated milk has a wide range of health benefits. Delhi-based nutritionist Rupali Dutta feels that any milk which is produced using hygienic methods provides ample nutrition to the body.
Consuming clean, unadulterated milk is important to receive its nutritional benefits. Standard diaries ensure that their milk is checked for chemical residues and fat content, which makes it healthy for consumption.Rupali Dutta, Nutritionist
Clean, unadulterated milk, in general, is rich in A1 and A2 protein, which is healthy for children and adults. The health benefits of milk largely depend on how it is treated at the time of production.
The milk produced is pasteurized and cooled immediately, thus preventing harmful bacterial growth. It preserves its freshness and taste.Deepak Raj, Vice President, Binsar Farms
Effects Of Adulterated Milk On Body
Milk is the second-most widely consumed liquid in the world! Right after humble water. But sadly, most of the milk available is largely contaminated and unhealthy for the human body.
Consuming adulterated milk can give rise to serious health ailments that have a widespread impact.
A 2012 study conducted by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had concluded that 70% of the milk consumed in India was adulterated.
Another study on milk adulteration by OMICS International found that detergents and urea were the most common adulterants present in milk besides hydrogen peroxide, starch, sugar, salt, carbonates and bicarbonates. These have adverse effects on kidneys and intestines and may even prove fatal in some cases.
The most common effect of drinking adulterated milk is allergies that occur due to the added emulsifiers. The high amount of lead causes serious internal organ failures and affects the liver and the kidneys.Rupali Dutta, Nutritionist
Starch and sugar may also prove fatal to people who are suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure.
High Price for Health?
Yes, naturally produced organic milk looks like the perfect solution for all our health problems.
Obsession with organic, which used to simply be the norm, has now become a trend amongst urban Indian families.
But fresh farm milk comes at a cost – Rs 70 to 100 per litre.
For Ismeet Kaur, a Gurugram-based mother of two, her children’s health came before money.
I switched to organic milk a few years ago because of the rampant malpractices in the milk industry, the widespread abuse of animals and the fact that most of the milk commercially available today is a cocktail of chemicals and hormones. I wanted to switch over to a safe, healthy and animal-abuse-free means of ensuring nutrition for my kids.Ismeet Kaur
But is she getting bang for the buck?
In India, the Ministry of Agriculture has laid down specific guidelines for Certification and Inspection Systems in Organic Farming.
As per the guidelines the livestock need to be under ‘continuous organic management at least a year prior to the production of milk or milk products to be represented as organic and 100% of the fodder, including pastures must be managed and handled by organic production practices’.
Low Yield of Naturally Produced Milk
Binsar farms supplies close to 4,000 litres of naturally produced milk to areas like Rohini, Pitampura, Patparganj in Delhi.
But Deepak says that there are hardly 5% dairy farms in the country that produce milk using organic methods.
Conversion of farm land into organic is a slow and gradual process. The waste from the farm is used to provide natural manure that enhances the richness of the pastures. It takes almost 5 years just for the upper layer of soil to become fertile.Deepak Raj
With over 300 cows in their farm, Deepak states that their constant effort is to produce milk that is ‘as close to organic’ as possible. He feels that India is still far away from producing 100% organic unadulterated milk.
All our processes are scientifically tested and proved. Using the best practices of other countries helps us produce unadulterated healthy milk. We can still not claim to be 100% organic but it’s as close to organic that is available in the Indian market.Deepak Raj
A Viable Solution?
There is a huge demand for clean and unadulterated milk in the country. But the real challenge is to produce unadulterated milk on a large scale and make it available for the masses.
There is an urgent need to educate dairy farmers on the benefits of producing milk using organic methods.
Dairy farmers must be educated on seasonal fodders, nutritional requirement of the livestock, diseases and their prevention. They must be made to understand that they will get better yield and higher profits if the cows are healthy. Using hormone enhancing injections does not only lower the milk quality, it also decreases the life expectancy of the cattle.Deepak Raj
For a healthier future, it is essential that the government and dairy farmers work hand in hand to ensure growing numbers of organic milk farms in the country.
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