As we look for more and more ways to substitute our regular foods for organically grown and harvested alternatives, milk is a major one.
Organic milk is the preferred choice for consumers who want to avoid as many synthetic components as possible, and even better, it lasts longer in the fridge.
Why does organic milk last longer? While it’s true that organic milk lasts longer, it’s not due to the organic methods used to farm it, but rather the way it’s stored.
Organic milk is processed using the ultra-high temperature or UHT method which kills any microorganisms living inside of it, making it fresher for longer.
If you’ve been thinking about making the switch to organic dairy, there’s a lot to learn about it. We’ll show you how the farming and processing methods are different with these types of milk and find out if they’re truly better for you.
What Is Organic Milk?
Organic milk is a term used for milk that has been farmed from dairy cows who have not been given any hormones, antibiotics, or other similar substances.
The most common medications administered to cows are hormones for producing extra milk and antibiotics to treat the infections that occur when they develop mastitis and other conditions due to excess milking.
Another factor used to determine whether milk is organic or not is how the cows eat and feed, with at least 30% of their diet coming from fresh pasture.
This means for at least 120 days every year, they are feeding directly off the land, with most organic dairy farms committed to providing them with a lot more than that.
In the United States, the regulating body for organic milk is the USDA and they give the stamp of approval to say who is organic and who isn’t.
They also guarantee that the grass and feed that the animals who live on these organic farms consume are free from synthetic pesticides and fertilizers as well, so the entire process is greener and healthier.
Why Does Organic Milk Last Longer?
The secret to the longer life of organic milk doesn’t have anything to do with how the cows are treated, but it is an added bonus.
The reason why organic milk lasts longer is due to the preservation process it undergoes, which must be done because it has to travel further to get to the supermarket shelves.
This unique preservation method is called ultrahigh temperature processing or UHT. During this process, the milk is heated to a higher temperature of 280 degrees Fahrenheit for between two to four seconds.
As it does, all bacteria and organisms found within the milk are destroyed. When you compare to the most common preservation process, pasteurization, it’s a lot hotter and faster.
The two types of pasteurization include “low temperature, long time” which lasts for at least 30 minutes at 145 degrees, and “high temperature, short time” which is 160 degrees for at least 15 seconds. This process kills most of the bacteria but not all of them, so its fridge life is a lot shorter.
Not all organic milk is made with this process, and some may undergo regular pasteurization and a fridge life of around one week.
UHT milk can last up to six months sometimes, and certain types can even be stored in the pantry during this time until you’re ready to move it to the fridge and cool it down.
The Other Benefits of Organic Milk
Organic milk has become the milk of choice for many Americans, and there’s a lot to love about it beyond its storage abilities.
We’ve rounded up some of the benefits you’ll experience when you make the switch to organic milk:
Higher nutritional content
Studies into the benefits of organic cow’s milk have shown it has a better nutritional profile than its regularly farmed counterpart.
One of the key benefits is a higher rate of fatty acids which directly support the health of your eyes, heart, joints, and brain, as well as improving your immune system.
However, some nutrients can be decreased when processed with the UHT method, so it’s not always going to be better.
A sip of organically farmed cow’s milk will almost always taste better, and even if it’s been treated at a higher temperature for preservation.
Simply knowing that the milk they’re drinking has been sourced from a cow raised on an organic farm is enough to make the taste more enjoyable for most people as well.
Better for the cows
Choosing organic goods isn’t just good for the planet as a whole but it’s the best thing you can do for the cows as well.
If you don’t want to go vegan but you want to make sure you’re choosing brands that treat animals well, organic farmers are the best alternative.
They have limits on density, ensure cows are out to pasture often, and don’t treat them with antibiotics or hormones just to improve milk production.
When you spend money on organic milk, you’re directly supporting farms that are committed to sustainability.
The practices used to farm organic milk ensure that the soil remains healthy, and include methods like pasture rotation, crop rotation, and composting.
This ensures a future for farmers and respect for both the animals and land that it’s farmed on.
Pasteurization vs UHT Pasteurization: What’s Better?
There’s no good or bad response for whether UHT or pasteurization is better, as it depends on the situation and the type of milk you’re treating.
Here are a few pros and cons that the UHT method used for organic milk offers, so you can see if it’s right for you.
Helps organic farms share their goods: The milk is able to travel further and stay fresh, so it’s great for organic farms that are few and far between.
Long shelf life: With an average shelf life of six months, you can store this milk in the fridge or pantry, and it can even come camping with you to make coffee on the go.
Cheaper price: Being able to buy more milk in bulk means better savings, which is good news for organic milk.
All the benefits of organic food: Choosing organic UHT milk means you’re supporting sustainability, the environment, and the welfare of the cows so you can feel good about the choice you’ve made.
A sweeter taste: The final taste of milk that’s undergone this method is a lot sweeter and some people can tell the difference.
Fewer vitamins: Treating the milk at this higher temperature can remove some of the vitamin content so it may not be as nutritious as pasteurized milk.
Not as good as fresh milk: Some people have issues with drinking UHT milk because it doesn’t feel as fresh, so if you have the option to, buying pasteurized organic milk may be better.
Organic is the Only Way
The benefits of organic milk go far beyond how long it lasts in the fridge, including a better taste and more environmentally friendly impact, so it’s worth the higher price.
If you can get your hands on organic milk and make the switch, you’ll see just how much better it is for yourself.
Organic products are becoming increasingly popular as people look for ways to reduce synthetics and chemicals in all aspects of their life.
To learn more about what organic means and how it might impact your food choices, we’ve answered some FAQs that can give you the basics.
What Is Organic Almond Milk?
Organic almond milk is milk that has been made with almonds that were grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.
Although the process of making organic milk is longer and more effort than regular almond milk, some people prefer choosing organic products that are free from synthetics.
Does Organic Mean Non-GMO?
A GMO or genetically modified organism could not be used in foods that are certified organic, because they are prohibited in this classification.
Therefore, it’s safe to assume that any organic foods you find in the supermarket could also be called non-GMO.
Are There More Probiotics in Organic Yogurt?
Yogurt made with organic milk and ingredients is not more likely to have probiotics than other kinds, so it can’t be used as a determiner.
The best way to find a probiotic-rich yogurt is to look for the inclusion of certain bacteria on the ingredient list, which indicates that it features enough to make an impact on your gut health.
Lorraine Pinnix is a passionate nutritionist and loves seeing people living healthy, and fulfilled lives. She believes that food is an essential piece of staying fit and strongly believes in going vegan. PureGrowthOrganic is a passionate work that details her research in helping you go on complete organic diets. She is available for questions, comments, and follow-ups.