Wal-Mart Promotes a Distorted View of Organic Foods
October 07, 2006
Organic milk is one of the most popular forms of organic food. For many shoppers, it is the first organic product they try. Wal-Mart plans to produce its own brand of organic milk, at a lower price than competitors. But critics believe that it will be a substandard form of the product.
Activist groups argue that Wal-Mart and other large retailers get their organic milk from large factory farms. The cows on these farms do not graze on fresh grass in pastures, but are rather fed a diet high in grains.
Wal-Mart's private-label brand of organic milk (Great Value) is produced by Aurora Organic Dairy (which also supplies Costco, Target, Wild Oats and Safeway).
To produce milk more cheaply, experts report, Aurora cuts corners. Their cows only eat grass when they aren't being milked or at the end of a lactation cycle, which amounts to only three months at most each year.
As a result, Aurora produces more milk annually (20,000 pounds per cow) than the average organic dairy (up to 18,000 pounds). Aurora also milks its cows three times a day, above the norm too.
Many organic farmers contend that grass feeding is essential for organic dairy production, and that milk from grass-fed cows is higher in beneficial nutrients.