Organic Milk Is Worth the Crazy Price for This Overlooked Benefit

organic milk

Sure, organic milk is probably better for your kids because it's not made with all that hormone and antibiotic crap they pump through conventional cows' veins to make them cost-efficient super pumpers. Lord knows kids get enough antibiotics all on their own by coming down with something every other week. Not that conventional milk is poison or anything, or that those few studies finding some nutritional advantage with organic are true. Many moms still feel better serving to their kids, okay? For a lot of moms it's a psychological thing, given how much pediatricians tell us our kids are supposed to be drinking every day.

But even that's not the main reason that I will continue to buy organic milk despite a shortage and the inevitable rising cost.

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Yes, the price of organic milk is going up -- the short story is because it's a lot more expensive to produce and farmers say they aren't getting paid enough for it, so they have to cut back. For us, that means paying about 10 percent or about 40 cents more per half-gallon, which seems to last about 3 hours in my house of two bottomless pit elementary schoolers.

One of the biggest draws to organic milk for me as a mom is actually the extraordinarily long shelf life.

If you look at the "sell by" date of regular milk, it says about 4-6 days. Not that that's a real issue in my house. I have no worry it will be gone long before there's even a chance of it going bad. Organic milk, on the other hand, sometimes has a "sell by" date of several weeks or even a month in advance!

Contrary to what you might think, it has nothing to do with the qualithy of milk, but rather the process that's used to heat organic milk to kill off bacteria. Organic milk is not pasteurized like conventional milk. Pasteurization is a low and long heating process that doesn't kill all the bacteria, so the milk doesn't last as long.

Organic milk, because it's not always produced locally and has to travel long distances to get to your grocery store, is heated through a fast and quick "ultrahigh temperature processing," which kills all the bacteria (and, some have argued, decreasing some of the vitamins, but that's another issue ...). You know Parmalat and all those boxed milks in the baking aisle that are never refrigerated and you wonder how they can possibly be okay to drink? Yeah, like that. Heck they say you don't even need to keep organic milk refrigerated.

Which brings me to my main motive for organic milk being worth the financial sacrifice.

One. I can go grocery shopping and other errands and leave the milk in the car for hours if I need to without worrying it will spoil if left warm.

Two. The longer shelf life lets me stock up on organic milk when it does go on sale at my store (rare, and usually only a few cents off, but still ...).

Three. I can force my kids to drink their milk a few hours after I discover it, undrunk and wasted, on the lunch table without worrying too much (there are probably safety issues to be concerned about once milk is opened from its container, so use common sense about how long it's actually been left out.)

That's mainly why I'll continue to pay through the nose for organic milk. Why will or won't you?

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