Exposed: Largest Organic Milk Supplier Isn’t Really Organic. Buy These Brands Instead

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The Washington Post (which fails in some aspects, but wins here) has published a shocking exposé revealing that the United States’ largest organic milk supplier is actually not organic at all.

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Aurora Organic Dairy is the country’s largest supplier of organic milk and dairy. If you buy store-brand aka generic organic milk from your local grocer, you’re probably drinking Aurora. They cover all the big names: Target, Walmart, Costco, and so on. But it turns out Aurora was taking advantage of a loop-hole that has allowed them to bypass critical organic practices while still earning an “organic” label.

RELATED: Watch Out! These Health Food Brands Aren’t so Healthy (And What to Buy Instead)

The FDA gives farmers the freedom to hire and pay their own inspectors who then grant companies the “USDA Organic” label we all know and love. This is a huge advantage for small local farms, who might not be able to afford the same inspection teams as a big brand. But when it comes to companies as massive as Aurora, it’s easy for things to slip through the cracks. Paying-off inspectors wouldn’t be necessary since these inspections are usually scheduled months in advance.

A key aspect that makes milk “organic” is that it must come from cows that graze freely. Milk from grazing cows actually has a different chemical composition than milk from cows kept indoors and grain-fed. After visiting the farm and looking at satellite imagery, WaPo discovered that only hundreds of Auroras thousands of cows were grazing at any given time– despite passing inspections.

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Not only that but by conducting lab tests, WaPo (in partner with Virginia Tech) was able to determine that the “organic” milk Aurora produced did not fit the chemical composition of typical organic milk. It was actually way, way off in three different categories.

Truly organic milk has a high concentration of conjugated linoleic acid. Aurora’s was super low: on par with conventional milk. Organic milk also typically has a high concentration of alpha-linoliec acid– once again Aurora’s milk ranked closer to conventional milk. This one’s the most shocking… Organic milk should have a low concentration of linoliec acid. Aurora? They ranked even higher in this respect than the conventional brands! So no matter how much Aurora might deny the allegations, their milk is not organic.

RELATED: ‘Fitbit for Cows’ Cowlar Tracks Everything From Disease to Stress

Unfortunately for most of us, we rely on store-brand generic products. They’re a lot cheaper than the name brand stuff and (usually) they quality is pretty much the same. So what should you buy instead? Many plant milks could be more reliable since the animal aspect is removed.

On all of the lab tests, Prigel Family Creamery came out on top as far as milk quality. Snowville, Horizon, and Organic Valley also all tested well.

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