Hormone-free milk? Or a bunch of BS(t)?

Am I the only one who rolls their eyes when they see “Our farmers pledge no artificial growth hormones” on a gallon of milk? Isn’t that like letting a professional baseball player “pledge” that he doesn’t use steroids?

OK, so I may be the extreme skeptic here, maybe it’s just the word “pledge” that turns me off, but since those words started appearing on our local non-organic milk, I’ve wanted to send a couple of gallons off to a lab to be tested.

I have bought organic milk since Caitlin started drinking milk 5 years ago. I have been frightened enough by stories of girls entering puberty early, blamed on recombinant bovine growth hormone, rBGH or rBST. The hormones have also been linked to higher levels of breast and prostate cancer.

But damn, it’s expensive. Sometimes twice as much! So I was happy a couple of years ago when non-organic milk started coming out that said it didn’t have the artificial hormones. Wal Mart and Kroger, among others, now only carry milk that does not contain artificial growth hormone.

I remain, though, a skeptic of those no artificial growth hormone claims. And this week, when I started looking into the issue, I discovered that there is NO test out there to easily determine whether milk contains artificial growth hormone. You see, cows normally produce hormones and you apparently can’t differentiate even in a lab between artificial and natural hormones in your milk.

So much for my laboratory tests.

Then just how do these huge dairies, which get their milk from dozens of dairy farmers, make sure their farmers are abiding by this “pledge” not to use artificial hormones?

This week, I emailed the press folks at Dean Foods, the nation’s largest distributor of dairy products (including Horizon Organic) and asked that question. The answer was far from satisfactory. The absence of artificial growth hormones “is confirmed through our quality assurance and supplier auditing process.”

So, what now? Back to organic milk that can often taste less than great because it is pasteurized at high a high temperature for longer shelf life??

Nope. I’ve found the best of all worlds in milk from our local dairy, Smith Creamery. They don’t use artificial growth hormone, never have, and their milk is delicious. Just like the milk from my childhood. Even the skim milk tastes like “creamy milk” according to my girls. It’s pasteurized at a lower temperature so it doesn’t kill the milks flavor, and the cows are pasture fed, which I think also must add to the flavor.

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to realize how much better this local milk is compared to even the expensive organic milk (though, believe me, Smith Creamery isn’t cheap)

I challenge you to find milk from your local dairy and conduct your own taste test. Because whether you believe artificial growth hormones are bad for you or not, that local milk is sooo much better!

1 Comment

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One response to “Hormone-free milk? Or a bunch of BS(t)?

  1. Kim in Austin

    Not only do you have to worry about the hormones in the milk, but you have to worry about the estrogen-activating chemicals in the container. Plastic bottles leach not only BPA but a host of similar endocrine disruptors; glass bottles and lined cartons do too, though to a much smaller extent. A few companies are working on the solution to that, but they haven’t gotten to enough of a market yet that milk containers are anywhere near a switch. Given the short time from shelf to fridge, plus knowing where your milk is coming from, obviously the local dairy is by far the best solution!

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