Holy cow! I’ve learned so much today about organics, farming, and cows today. It’s literally going to take me days and days to recap everything on my blog. There’s so much to tell ya about!
With so much information to share, I figured it would be best to start my recap with the basics. After breakfast this morning, Nancy gave the group a presentation about cows and what it means to be organic. I was pretty surprised by how much I didn’t know about both of these subjects!
- Cows are female.
- Cows get pregnant once a year.
- Cows have 305 days of milk production and 60 days of rest before “freshening” (giving birth to a calf).
- Rest period is called “dry cow.” (During this time, organic cows hang out and graze.)
- Milking does not hurt cows.
- Organic cows are (typically) milked 2 times per day; conventional are milked 3 times per day.
- Life average life expectancy of a conventional cow is 4 years; organic cows can live well beyond 10 years.
What does ‘organic’ really mean?
- Natural methods of pest control
- Low-levels of environmental pollution
- No GMOs (genetically modified organisms)
- Humane treatment of animals (i.e. access to outdoors)
If the ‘organic‘ label is used on food, it must meet the USDA organic standards, which include a number of key attributes:
- Prohibits the use of toxic and persistent pesticides, antibiotics growth hormones, GMOs, sludge, and irradiation.
- Requires a 3-year transition of land from non-organic to organic. This means the land on which the cows are raised must not have prohibited substances applied for 3 years prior. Cows must be fed and treated to meet organic standards (access to outdoors, 100% organic feed, etc.) for a full 12 months before their milk can be sold as organic.
- Adheres to one of the three types of organic labels
Learning about the three types of organic labels was really interesting. I just figured that if something was labeled ‘organic,’ then it was organic. Well, it turns out that the USDA has created 3 different levels of ‘organic’ for consumers:
- 100% organic: Products are made entirely with certified organic ingredients and methods. These products can display the USDA organic seal.
- Organic: Products with at least 95% organic ingredients can use the word ‘organic.’ These products can also display the USDA organic seal.
- “Made with organic ingredients:” Products that contain a minimum of 70% organic ingredients can be labeled “made with organic ingredients.” These products can display the logo of the certification body that approved them.
If products have less than 70% organic ingredients, they cannot advertise it as organic. But, they can mention that the product contains organic ingredients (if that is the case). For instance, a cereal “made with organic raisins.”
I was particularly surprised to learn that the label ‘natural‘ means absolutely nothing! Even though this label is often associated with having no artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, etc., it’s not regulated by the US government, so it can be placed on pretty much any product. I had no idea! I thought the term at least meant something!
My goodness, I still have so much more to blog about!! This post is just the tip of the iceberg! Lots more to come! Stay tuned!