Comparison of Organic and Conventional Raw Milk Quality in The Netherlands
Joke Bloksma, Ruth Adriaansen-Tennekes, Machteld Huber, Lucy P.L. van de Vijver, Ton Baars and Jan de Wit
Organic production methods have in the past been shown to have benefits for the environment,
biodiversity, soil quality, animal welfare and reduced pesticide residues. In addition to these
qualities they may also contribute directly to human health. In an exploratory study, raw (bulk)
cow’s milk from five organic and five neighbouring conventional farms were compared at the
end of the winter housing period. Farm management clearly differed; e.g. organic cows ate less
concentrates and forage maize, and more silage of grass clover and hay. The levels of CLA
(conjugated linoleic acid) and omega 3 fatty acids were significantly higher in the organic milk.
No clear difference in taste was observed: the organic milk was generally considered creamier and
tended to taste more of hay and grass than conventional milk. An indication of the health status of
the cows was obtained by immunological research. In the organic milk the lymphocyte rest value
tended to be lower and after stimulation the cells from organic milk had a higher stimulation
index than those in conventional milk. In addition to the more conventional milk analysis two
experimental holistic methods were used as an indicator of milk quality: biophoton emission and
biocrystallization. These methods showed that organic milk was systematically more ‘balanced’:
it had a more ‘ordered structure’ and showed better ‘integration and coordination’. From this pilot
study it can be concluded that overall the organic milk scored better than the conventional milk
for both the conventional and holistic measures. Whether these results have an impact on human
health needs to be explored in other studies.
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