You might remember a couple weeks ago I wrote a post about switching to an all Organic diet? Well, someone left a comment that raised some very interesting ethical questions regarding the treatment of sick organic dairy animals. Because I’m fairly new to the whole organic food thing, I decided to contact one of the better known organic dairy companies, the Straus Family Creamery, for their thoughts on this subject.
Here’s the comment that was left on my blog:
“I’m a fan of locally grown, and prefer to grow my own when I can. I’m also a huge fan of grass-fed meat and free-range chickens. The one thing I will not buy organically however, is milk and dairy products. My educational background is agriculture. For me, I have the ethical dilemma knowing that often instead of a dairyman treating a sick cow because that would make her no longer “organic”, they allow her to continue to be ill with “name your favorite dairy cattle ailment here” and often feeling pain. I know a few dairymen in the Central Valley who run both organic and conventional dairies so that if a cow needs to be treated, she can be, then moved to the conventional dairy. Without that caveat I don’t feel organic animal products are ethical or healthier (who wants products from a sick animal?) and quite honestly, most organic producers don’t go to those lengths. I feel that the product from an healthy animal who, perhaps some time ago was treated with approved drugs, is still healthier than possibly sick animals producing a product entering the food chain. Just food for thought…”
And here is the Straus Family Creamery’s response to that comment:
Thank you for your email, we appreciate your inquiry. Well, all organic dairies are not all the same. Some do actually care about their health and well-being while wanting to provide the best possible milk for customers.
In general, medical treatment guidelines on an organic dairy are as follows: vaccinations are allowed; antibiotics and hormones are not allowed.
Aspirin is allowed for use on organic dairies and is given to cows to reduce fever and inflammation. In addition, we use homeopathy to treat our cows when they get sick. Homeopathy is essentially diluted herbs.
Albert Straus originally heard about homeopathic remedies on cows in 1992 when he met one of only two large animal vets in North America who were using homeopathic medicines. Albert then began administering homeopathic remedies on our family’s own herd with good results.
On an organic dairy, cows are not given antibiotics unless it is the only way to save a cow’s life. At that point an organic dairy is allowed to keep the cow, but withhold its milk from sale for a period of 90 days. At any of the Straus Family Creamery dairies, if a cow is given antibiotics to save its life, it will then be removed permanently from the organic milking herd.
The most important aspect of keeping cows healthy is to minimize their stress. We accomplish this by providing clean bedding (we add clean rice hulls regularly), room to move (our cows graze from Spring through Fall when the fields are dry), a balanced diet, plenty of space wherever they are, a cooler climate (which is more comfortable for cows since they don’t sweat) and individual bedded stalls for each cow. It’s a pretty good life for a cow.”
I’m not really heavy into eating a lot dairy or beef in the first place, but I thought that both the question posed by the commenter and the response from Straus Family Creamery were enlightening. I definitely learned something.
What do y’all think ?