Organic milk and dairy products are becoming more accessible than ever. But how can you be sure something labeled ‘organic’ actually is organic? And, when it comes to dairy products, what does this word actually mean?
In this blog we’ll help you understand organic certifications and the principles that guide organic dairy farming practices.
Understanding What Organic Means
In Australia there is currently no national government standard that dictates what is considered an organic product. Instead, there are a handful of private Organic Certifying Bodies.
For this article we’ll use the most well known of these standards: the Australian Certified Organic (ACO) standard.
The Principles of Organic Dairy
At its heart Organic Dairy farming is about raising happy, healthy cows. Obviously, the actual ACO standards go into detail of what this actually means and the complex ways it applies to farming practices. However, the overall governing principles that guide organic dairy standards are:
- Antibiotic Free: Organic dairy cows are raised without the regular use of antibiotics, vaccines or other veterinary treatments. Cultural management techniques and a more natural lifestyle are used to keep livestock healthy.
- Natural Grazing: Organic dairy cows are left to graze and feed naturally rather than being grain fed.
- Hormone Free: Unlike conventional modern farming, organic dairy farming rejects the use of growth hormones. Instead, cows are raised naturally and left to grow at their own pace.
- Natural Reproduction: Organic dairy cows are bred naturally without human involvement. This means no IVF, instead organic dairy farmers select cow breeds that can reproduce independently.
- Protect Biodiversity: Organic dairy farmers are required to uphold the natural biodiversity of the land they farm on. We’ll take a look at this in more detail a little later.
Is Organic the Same as Unpasteurised?
The short answer is no. Organic refers to specific farming practices (as outlined above).
Pasteurisation refers to a treatment process where milk is heated to roughly 100 degrees celsius. This process kills off harmful bacteria and increases shelf life.
It is illegal to sell raw milk in Australia. This means all organic milk is pasteurised or has gone through another approved method of treatment.
Is Organic the Same as Unhomginised?
Again, the answer here is no.
Homogenisation refers to a mechanical process that blends the fat into the milk so it becomes one consistent liquid. This is done by heating the milk, agitating it and then passing it through a membrane at high-pressure.
Unhomogenised milk is often called ‘milk with cream on top’ because it contains a rich layer of thick cream on its surface.
Organic Dairy Farming and Biodiversity
Organic dairy isn’t just about healthier produce free from chemicals, it’s also about taking care of the environment.
Organic Dairy farming techniques work with the land, rather than trying to change it. They maintain the bushland they are built on by caring for and planting regionally appropriate flora.
Cows are encouraged to be used as part of, and to contribute to, the natural ecosystem.
Breeds are chosen to complement this environment and are used in ways that strengthen the local ecosystem.
These ways include:
- Maintaining and improving soil fertility
- Controlling weeds through grazing
- Contributing to the biodiversity and species interaction of the farm
Mungalli Creek Dairy Farm
Located in Queensland’s stunning Atherton tablelands, Mungalli Creek Dairy is the perfect embodiment of both organic and biodynamic farming practices.
Mungalli farmers, the Watson brothers, view the dairy as more than just cows and pasture. It’s their chance to actively contribute to the biodiversity and the natural resilience of their local ecosystem.
Rather than treating the dairy as separate from the surrounding world heritage rainforest , they see it as all one big organism. As a result, it’s not uncommon to see small birds, Wallabies, dingoes and even cassowaries wandering about on their farm!
Mungalli makes a great range of innovative dairy products including yoghurt, cheeses and creams, and even lactose free milk. All these delicious dairy products are available through the Back to Eden Organic Outlet Store.
The Benefits of Organic Dairy
Ask anyone who drinks it, organic milk just tastes better. It’s natural, creamer and has that farm-fresh taste. Here’s some of the other benefits of choosing organic milk:
Free from Harmful Chemicals: One of the key benefits of organic dairy is the absence of antibiotics and hormones. These are intentionally not added to the farming or manufacturing process of Certified Organic milk.
Sustainable: It’s undeniable that organic dairy farming is far kinder on the earth than traditional dairy farming. Organic dairy farming fosters biodiversity by choosing livestock species that will bolster, and not deplete, the natural environment.
Happy and Healthy Cows: Ethical treatment of livestock is at the heart of organic dairy farming practices. Cows on organic farms have access to roam on pastures in the open air and feed on high-quality grasses.
Interested in organic dairy? Our new retail space, the Back to Eden Organic outlet store is opening soon and will carry a vast range of organic milk and dairy products. Click here to sign up for our newsletter to be notified on launch.