Wal-Mart Promotes a Distorted View of Organic Foods

When Wal-Mart made hay in the press earlier this year with its announcement about doubling its organic foods sales, I cautioned you to be skeptical about the source, and it seems my concerns are well-founded, according to this awesome New York Times piece.

Case in point is Wal-Mart's private-label brand of organic milk (Great Value) produced by Aurora Organic Dairy (which, by the way, also supplies Costco, Target, Wild Oats and Safeway). Some competitors and food retailers argue Aurora and Wal-Mart are selling substandard organic dairy products produced at facilities that barely adhere to the principles of organic agriculture.

To produce milk more cheaply, experts report, Aurora cuts corners as cows spend no significant time grazing on fresh grass. Instead, cows only eat grass when they aren't being milked or at the end of a lactation cycle which amounts to only three months at most each year. The rest of the time, cows survive on a high-grain diet. That's partly responsible for why Aurora produces more milk annually (20,000 per cow) than the average organic dairy (up to 18,000 pounds). And, by the way, Aurora milks its cows three times a day, above the norm too.

Sounds more like a cheaper, more conventionally-produced product being labeled deceptively as an organic one. Yes, Aurora claims they will be lowering the number of cows on its farms, anticipating stricter regulations from the USDA on what constitutes organic milk.

The catch remains organic milk is pasteurized, a process that eradicates virtually all of the beneficial bacteria present in milk as well as distorts its fragile proteins in ways that can be harmful to you. That's why your best source for milk is to locate a farmer near you who produces and sells raw milk.

New York Times September 16, 2006 Registration Required

The Lakeland (Fla.) Ledger September 16, 2006

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