Milk from dairy cows on organic farms, particularly pasture-based operations, contains significantly higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than conventional milk.
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, potential benefits of CLA in the diet include reducing the propensity to store fat (especially abdominal fat), inhibiting tumor development, promoting sensitivity to insulin in cells, increasing immune response against viral antigens, and modulating inflammatory processes.
Ongoing studies are exploring the potential of CLA to delay or slow the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
Organic Dairy Farms
Organic dairy farms are a diverse group, ranging in size from small family-run operations with fewer than 75 cows to large, fully integrated farms with more than 2,000 cows. Organic dairies have choices about how to market their milk—through traditional milk cooperatives, dedicated organic cooperatives, or independently direct to their processor. But large farm or small, the same organic standards must be maintained in order for the milk to be certified organic.
To become an organic dairy, pasture and cropland must be managed organically for a minimum of 36 months before the farm can qualify for certification. No prohibited herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, synthetic fertilizers, treated seeds, or other prohibited substances can be used during that period.
Adequate records must be kept to verify land-management practices. To be certified organic, additional crop management requirements, including annual crop rotation, organic seed use, proper manure management, and detailed record keeping, come into play.