Is Organic Cheese a Healthier Choice?
Happy cows make tastier cheese
Organic food has become a part of many people’s daily diet, and organic cheese and milk are now available in most grocery stores and supermarkets. One of the main reasons for their popularity is that organic dairy products are often thought to be safer and more beneficial to health than their non-organic counterparts.
What makes organic food safer?
Cows on organic farms are fed a natural diet that contains a lot of fresh grass and other natural foods, such as red clover. The feed is grown without chemical pesticides and other artificial and potentially harmful substances that are used on non-organic farms and that are also used to produce non-organic cattle feed. Residues of insecticides, herbicides and fungicides may end up in milk and meat, but organic milk is free from these dangerous chemicals.
Another popular option is organic goats’ cheese. Some people who have trouble digesting normal dairy products find that they tolerate goat milk a lot better. The taste of goat cheese takes a bit of getting used to as it is quite pungent, but now that I’m used to it I love it.
And you need not worry about cheese being unhealthy (unless you have an allergy or are sensitive to lactose, the main sugar in milk). Most people worry about the fat in cheese, but that is probably not what one should be worried about. Nora Gedgaudas, who wrote Primal Body, Primal Mind, a book on healthy eating, notes in the book that the French eat a diet that is very high in fat and also includes lots of butter, cheese and cream. Yet their rates of heart disease are low and among men are half the rates of heart disease in America. It is also worth noting that Europe is strict about the chemicals and hormones that farmers are allowed to use on cows and in dairies. Even milk that is not organic is a lot lower in growth hormones and other additives than regular milk in many other parts of the world.
The safety of organic meat
Organically reared cattle are not fed growth or fertility hormones, antibiotics and other medications that are common on normal farms, and genetically modified cattle feed is banned. This means that the milk does not contain any remains of genetically modified substances that could be harmful to human health.
One of the main reasons for the safe reputation of organically produced meat is that the cattle is not fed antibiotics unless absolutely necessary. On many non-organic cattle farms antibiotics are frequently given to the animals even when they are not ill. Residues from the antibiotics can then end up in the cow’s meat or milk, and there has been concern about the widespread use of antibiotics in dairy farming and its possible link to antibiotic resistance in humans, especially after the appearance of so-called superbugs that are resistant to all known antibiotic treatments.
There is also no risk of BSE (mad cow disease) on organic dairy farms, as the animals are never fed food that contains parts of other animals or animal derivatives (thought to be one of the main causes of the BSE scares).
Health benefits of organically grown foods
More and more research has also been conducted to the health benefits of organic foods, and there is increasing evidence that organic products contain more healthy, beneficial nutrients than non-organic products. For example, research into the amount of essential fatty acids in milk has indicated that there is more Alpha Linolenic Acid (a type of a Omega 3 essential fatty acid) in organic than in normal milk. Other beneficial nutrients include vitamins A and E, and antioxidants: all important to everyday health and well-being.