The Future of Milk

By David Goodman, "The Future of Milk," July/August 2010

As small dairy farms are vanishing, what is happening to our milk?

"Skip the milk produced by the big commercial dairy farms. Better yet, go vegan or vegetarian and support dairy and cattle farmers that switch to growing vegetables and fruit which are more healthy and ecological alternatives. Too much of...

Other health experts disagree: in November, the American Public Health Association called for a ban on the use of rBGH because of the “possibility of human health risks,” including increased resistance to antibiotics since cows given rBGH often develop mastitis (an udder infection) and need to be treated with antibiotics.

While about 40 percent of the nation’s large dairy operations inject their cows with rBGH, more and more conventional milk today is labeled rBST- or rBGH-free. To date, more than 291 hospitals have signed the “Healthy Food in Health Care” pledge, which advocates, among other things, to serve rBGH-free milk. In addition, large companies, such as Walmart, Kroger and Safeway, have switched their private-label milks to be rBGH-free.

For Woodard, the artificial hormone treatment symbolized what was wrong in dairy farming. “I went organic because of the BGH issue. It bothers me when a cow is made to work so hard that they’re fried after two to three years.” Switching to organic in 1995 wasn’t that difficult. “We were practically organic anyway,” he says, since he didn’t use antibiotics or chemicals in his fields—and it came with a bonus: he was guaranteed a fixed price for his milk. So when the price that conventional dairy farmers received for milk dropped to $11 per hundredweight last year, Woodard was still paid about $28 per hundredweight.

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