Wednesday, October 12, 2011

31 Days to a Cleaner Diet {7}: Dairy and Eggs

If there’s one thing I want you to remember from this post, it’s the word “pastured.”  Because when it comes to dairy and eggs (and meats, for that matter), that word is like gold. 

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Pastured means that cows and chickens are doing what they’re supposed to do:  grazing around, getting fresh air and exercise, and eating the food they were designed by God to eat. 

Pastured is good – both for animals and for you and your family. 


Of course, that word is often elusive in the grocery store and almost always means your product will be more expensive. 

But it’s worth it. 

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Vote with your food dollars?”  It means that if you believe in a  concept, like organic food, put your money where your mouth is and pay (aka “vote”) for that better product. 

At my local grocery store, the organic store-brand half-and-half is $1.99.  It sits right next to the Organic Valley half-and-half, which is pastured, and sells for $2.99. 

It kinda kills me a little each time I buy it that I could be saving a dollar.  (Some of you are like, “A dollar?  Who cares?!” and I’m sure others of you are horrified that I spend that much on creamer. lol)

But I’ve had a shift in my thinking about this.  Because I want Organic Valley to thrive.  I want them to make so much money that they can buy more pasture, and have more happy cows, so that I can get more of my clean half-and-half. 

If nobody buys the pastured half-and-half, and nobody votes with their food dollars, then eventually Organic Valley will go out of business…and we, as consumers, will be left with less choices. 

You guys, I’m not a millionaire.  I’m certainly not rich.  I’m probably barely in the middle class!  lol

But don’t you want a future where the next generation has access to affordable organic foods?  I sure do.  We have to do our part now, however small that might be, to show the small companies (and the big companies!) what is important to us. 

Here’s an interesting quote I found: “In 2008, a study by Newcastle University in the UK, published in the Journal of Science of Food and Agriculture, found that organic grazing cows produced milk with higher content of fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins as compared to conventional cows that were fed grains and were kept indoors.” {source} 

Let me caution you to be aware that just because a food is labeled organic does not mean it is a) necessarily healthy for you (there’s a lot of organic junk food out there!) or that b) the animals are being raised the way that God designed. 

Organic milk, unless it says “pasture-raised”, does not necessarily mean that the cows are eating grass as they should be.  It can just mean that they’re getting fed non-GMO, non-pesticide corn…in a feedlot. 

For this reason, I always buy Stonyfield products, because they are a New England-based company (which, for me, is “local”), and they are the only major brand I’ve found that tells you that their cows are pastured. 



Believe me, if a product is pastured, that company wants you to know (because it cost them more!) and they WILL tell you on the label. 



(Ideally, you want cows that graze during the growing season and then are also fed hay in the winter.  But this is the best I can find so far in my area.)

You might not be able to find pastured eggs near where you live.  I am so thankful to live just a short drive from a farm where I can see those chickens pecking their little hearts out in a big old open field of grass. 


My eggs even come with HAY on them sometimes.  (I kinda love this.)  I pay $4 a dozen for these babies…..but they’re worth every delicious, deep-golden yolk.  (And the peace of mind that they most likely will never give me salmonella poisoning, since they’re  not standing in inches of their own poop all day long. BONUS!) I have talked to this farmer personally at the farmer’s market and when I see him at the farm.  I love knowing that he’s doing something good for the environment – and I’m happy to give him my money. :)



Veering on the other end of the spectrum from pastured animals, I can’t stress enough how really, really, reeeeealllllllly icky regular cow’s milk is for you. 

Remember when I talked about meats and mentioned how the animals were treated all day?  The same goes for dairy cows. 

Regular (as in non-organic) dairy cows are fed genetically-modified, pesticide-laden corn, which makes them super sick, since cows are called “ruminants” – meaning God only designed them to eat grasses.  The cows, since they are sick all the time, need to be treated frequently with antibiotics to clear up the infection they never should have had in the first place.   Many cows are additionally often given artificial hormones to increase milk production; some are milked as often as THREE TIMES a day. 

So here’s another bottom line for you:  when you drink regular milk, you’re ingesting an antibiotic, hormone, pesticide, GMO, corn-laden drink.  

Appetizing, no? 


So let’s break down the better and good list for the final time, although this time I’m going to break it down into three categories:

Best: Raw pastured milk*
Better: Organic pastured milk
Good: Organic milk

Honestly, I can’t in good conscience advocate anyone drinking non-organic milk, especially at the rate most of us drink it.  It’s just that bad for you. 


Best: Pastured
Better: Organic
Good: Vegetarian-fed (this is a bare-minimum requirement)

Please, please, please don’t ever buy eggs that don’t meet at least one of those three criteria! (Otherwise they’re fed ground-up animal parts, and that’s just really, really gross.)


*Again, this got so long that I had to cut out huge parts of the discussion.   There are many people who claim that pasteurization kills crucial elements inside milk and that it is actually detrimental to it.  Personally, any texture other than skim milk makes me want to gag, so although I believe that these findings are correct, I can’t wrap my brain around drinking thick, whole milk (since raw milk doesn’t come in skim, haha).  On a chemical level, though, you do absorb more nutrients when you ingest fat with the milk.  My husband claims that skim milk isn’t even milk at all. lol  I am working on it! First I need to get up the courage to drink 1%.  :)

You guys, please don’t walk away from this thinking that I’m a perfect eater.  I’m definitely not.  I don’t buy pastured (or even organic!!) butter or cheese.  I’ve honestly never seen organic cheese in the grocery store, and the organic butter is about 6 or 7 dollars a pound.   I am a work in progress, just like all of you. :)


I’d love to know: do you have any options for pastured milk or eggs where you live?  What about butter and cheese?  What do you always buy organic, and what areas do you have to still make changes in (like me)? Remember, I am always more than happy to answer any questions you might have!


  1. This is a very insightful post. I do like to eat healthy and I will look for pastured products at my grocery store. Thanks!


  2. Your post are making me feel bad :) Not because they are bad, but because at this point in my life I agree with everything that you've written and want to eat better, and just at this point don't have the ability...

    I have made small changes, but unfortunately we have two MAJOR expenses coming up in a VERY short time, and are in a save every penny possible mode... but I can't wait until 6 months down the road when we will (hopefully) be moved and in our 'forever' house, and will REALLY be making changes when it's time to start introducing them to our son, who's due in Jan. I cleaned up our diets a lot with my 1st son, but have just learned a lot more from then.

    But we have a neighbor who we buy fresh eggs from, fruit/veggies gets washed and I lean towards cleaner ones, and we're just cutting out a lot of meat for now until we can get the better quality things :)

  3. We recently started getting milk, eggs, cheese and meat delivered from a local creamery. You can even visit and feed the calves and watch the milking. It's great!

  4. Loving these posts!! We get raw goat's milk from my parent's farm (except now when their goats are preggo) and eggs from another friend's farm. These posts are just full of great info!!

  5. I so appreciate your posts because you are being so transparent and that is refreshing....I started buying eggs from a friend. She charges me $5 for an 18-count. They are sooo much better.

    To Jenn above...don't feel bad...just do what you can do, when you can do it...small changes over time. Sometimes the prices go up on things and I just can't buy them. I can totally agree with everything Jessica is saying but just like her, we can't necessarily afford EVERYTHING organic...I'm slowly continuing to make changes in our family's diet!

  6. Great post. And you're right. For every person who votes with their wallet, someone is taking a stand for the kind of earth we want to live in.

    I personally believe that the shelf price in no way reflects the true price of a product, in terms of human and environmental impact.

    For example, The REAL COST of that non-organic, non-pastured milk that costs a dollar less at the checkout, is more genetically-modified organisms in our environment, sicker cows, more antiobiotics which eventually leach into waterways and soils, more allergies as pasteurisation destroys the proteins that allow humans to digest the milk properly, and on and on it goes.

    Keep up the fantastic work of encouraging people to eat better. It's great to see!

    And if you can't stomach the idea of raw, unhomogenised milk, then perhaps this post will give you the motivation you need :-)

  7. Jenn - everyone is at different levels of this, and that's okay. First of all, it's good that you're aware that there are changes to be made...that puts you ahead of a huge percentage of Americans already!

    Your last paragraph was also great - eating fresh eggs is an awesome choice, as is eating fruits and veggies, period. Also good for you for cutting back on meat until you can pay for better stuff!

    Honestly, even if you can't necessarily buy a lot of clean/organic foods right now, just try to stop buying processed foods if your family eats them. Focus on having a more whole-foods diet and that will be a huge step in the right direction until you can afford to make more and more changes.

    You can do it! Stay encouraged! :)

  8. I have never seen milk marked "pasture raised" here in WV, even though we have Stoneyfield products. I hate the milk issue right now. I have a great grass-fed cow farmer, but they won't sell me raw milk I have been buying regular milk (non-rBST) because I can't buy organic milk that isn't UHT processed. I don't see the point of spending more money for organic (or even pasture-raised) milk when they heat it up to 275 degrees and it kills all the good stuff anyway!

    I haven't been able to find any organic milk products that are not UHT. I can't even find any cream that isn't UHT. It is quite sad.

  9. I jumped on the farm-fresh eggs bandwagon this year... some friends of mine take turns going to the farm weekly to pick them up for the rest of the group -- only $2.25/doz!! Very comparable to what I can find at the grocery store.
    I'll have to actually look at the milk that's available next time I need some. That's one of those things I haven't really stopped to think about and just grab a half-gallon of the regular stuff. We don't go through a lot of milk so I guess that might make buying the good stuff more of an affordable option :)
    Cheese - well I live in WI so I try to buy local :)
    Butter - I'd say just the fact that we use butter instead of margarine is a plus :P I have bought it from the farmer's market, but yes it's expensive. I'd just use that on bread/toast and use the regular stuff in baking. For some reason when it's all mixed into something it doesn't seem so unhealthy :P

  10. 1. Milk: Ethan drinks raw whole. I am like you and cannot stomach it. I am not a milk person and never drank it until 2nd trimester of pregnancy and I was CRAVING it daily. (Protein?) At that point I bought myself organic skim. To save money, I have stopped buying myself milk and have been able to stomach the whole if I add chocolate. Working it up...

    2. We were buying eggs from a local chicken farmer, but then they got new chicks and I haven't heard back from them. We have switched to organic from the store. I buy 3 dozen eggs a week...

    3. I have been doing organic plain yogurt for a while and recently switched to organic butter and cream cheese. I will buy local or organic blocks of cheese, but still go for Sargento grated cheese due to price (and we don't eat it that often).

    4. Right now I am buying hormone and antibiotic free beef, turkey, and chicken, though not all USDA organic (just depending what is available). I can get organic ground beef, chicken, and turkey regularly. It $$$ but we notice a significant difference in how E feels... If we get stationed in Ohio, I am going to look into buying a cow and I know someone who knows someone who raises organic free range chickens near Cinci. SCORE. I need to look more into the pastured aspect of my purchases. I have noticed that "natural" chickens taste SO MUCH BETTER! Not as fatty and the meat is more substantial. That is worth the price difference right there. We used to have a hard time finishing a whole conventional chicken because of picking through not so yummy parts, but since cooking natural whole chickens, we scrape them clean no problem!


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