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Your money or your health?

By Helen Lobato - posted Friday, 30 May 2008


"But how much more will it cost?"

"I won't be able to pass it on to my customers?"

"Not now, I will need to know more about it before I can look at it!"

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The above were the lame excuses given to me by the manager of a coffee shop which sells fair trade coffee. I mistakenly thought that he might be amenable to my suggestion that he sell organic milk along with his fair trade coffee.

In purchasing a cup of fair trade coffee you ensure that the farmer gets a fair deal and in this way we are acting as ethical consumers. Similarly the purchase of organic milk is an ethical choice in that the cows are not fed genetically modified grains or antibiotics and are not housed but are free to range on green pasture.

I had prepared flyers and posters for his customers to read and even offered to buy the organic milk for him. I thought that he might like to conduct an experiment and see if his customers asked for organic milk when given the information and choice. This was not to be.

We need to be pressing our coffee shops to stock organic milk but judging by the ignorance of this retailer who although he had obviously caught onto the fact that fair trade coffee would attract a clientele, had little or no knowledge about organic milk.

Now that the Victorian state government has allowed the first GM seeds to be grown we will have our milking cows being fed GM produce. And have no doubt that what the cow eats will make its way into the food supply and into your cappuccino. GM crops are possibly not safe for humans or animals to eat and yet they are already in our food supply. Interestingly two of Melbourne's top chefs have just signed the GM-free Chef's Charter urging diners to say “no” to GM restaurants.

What is so good about organic milk as opposed to conventional milk?

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Organic milk is free from antibiotics, artificial hormones and the pesticides used in the commercial dairy industry.

Increased demand for organic milk encourages conventional dairy farmers to “go organic”, which furthers the environmental and nutritional benefits. Organic milk is legal and is being sold in quite good amounts in most supermarkets.

Better still is raw milk: this is unpasteurised milk straight from the organically pasture fed cow. Raw milk contains the delicate enzymes and essential bacteria which are destroyed with pasteurisation. It is the lack of these natural enzymes in pasteurised milk which makes it indigestible for many people.

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About the Author

Helen Lobato is an independent health researcher and radio broadcaster with community radio 3cr and at present is a co-producer of Food fight, a weekly program around food security issues. Helen has a background in critical care nursing.

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