Sunday, September 21, 2008
Sustainability and Organic Products - What's the Difference?
My latest research led me on a quest to determine if drinking my healthy(?) Stoneyfield Farms fat-free organic milk and eating the fat-free organic yogurt is better than drinking locally raised, organic raw milk. I love raw milk and raw milk yogurt, but we all know the fat content of full-milk products is less than desireable -- or is it? Is it really a question of health vs sustainability? My answer is both are important - but lots of facts to "weigh" in on. A couple of things I've been reading talk about the true value of organic and Stonyfield is an excellent example. While their products and any other organic products are reliably organic if slapped with the USDA organic symbol, the process of manufacturing, pasteurization/homogenization, additives, packaging/labeling, and shipping is a detriment to the environment. Not to mention not only is bacteria killed in the pasteurization process, so are some of the vital nutrients like calcium, Vitamins C, D, and Bs. Raw vs pasteurized milk is widely controversial, but I lean towards the its ok to drink raw milk side (I was raised on it). Health-wise, the question is can your body tolerate the full-fat (do you exericse enough?) vs the additives in pasteurization (why do they take things out, then put them back in because they took them out? That's stupid to me). Back to the processing -- it takes precious resources to process and ship anything. If we really want to help the environment -- buy local. That is SO the key. Donna Weiser and her hubby Brett practice the local thingy by purchasing local free-range chickens and helping with the butchering process themselves. I certainly couldn't do it, but its the kind of thing that more people should do - it's a true example of benefit to the enviornment AND local sustainability. Years ago, before there was ever any mention of problems with the environment, EVERYONE had chickens and pigs in their back yards. What's for dinner? Go out back and get it. My father tells the story of how his mom asked him to kill a chicken when he was about 12 - circa 1942. I now know where I get my love of animals from -- dad couldn't kill the chicken. I found this really cool website on local buying and sustainability. There's some interesting concepts embedded in there and of course I'm on that band wagon. So the verdict? I'm going to switch to raw, local milk and run an extra mile to compensate for the extra calories. We, in the Central PA area, should feel fortuntate to live in an area with a wealth of local farming of all kinds... fruit, vegetables (my own!), humane animal-raising, and of course there's a local farm that produces and sells raw milk to a local retailer. Not much processing goes into the filling of the glass, recyclable bottles that are sold 5 miles away. Not to mention the support I'm giving to the local agriculture industry. BUY LOCAL - GET TO THE FARMER'S MARKET and BUY FROM THE LOCAL FARMER!