For the uninitiated, organic milk means pure milk, to which nothing is added and nothing is removed. What makes organic milk different from regular milk is that the cows are fed on homegrown fodder diets consisting of food like maize, ragi, jowar, cowpeas, beans, moringa and azolla. No pesticides, genetically modified organism (GMO) or synthetic fertilisers are used in growing these crops. Also, the cows are not tethered and no hormones or antibiotics are used to boost production and cow care is given utmost importance.
Research by government organisations has established that two out of every three Indians drink adulterated milk today. Most of the milk and milk products sold in India do not meet the standards set by the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI). A lot of synthetic substitutes are added like sodas and unhealthy powders which take away the goodness of milk and increase levels of bad bacteria and harmful substances.
“Adulterated milk goes to the extent of causing cancer, besides causing stomach and bone problems. Dairy is important in every Indian household, both urban and rural, as it is the base for curd, paneer, ghee which is consumed daily. Hence, it is important to ensure that milk is organic,” avers Mehal Kejriwal, co- founder, Happy Milk.
Decoding the labels
Shashi Kumar, chief executive officer and co-founder, Akshayakalpa, explains, “There are two major milk proteins — whey and casein. Casein contributes to 80 per cent of protein in cow’s milk and Beta casein is a subtype of casein. Because of years of genetic mutations there are about 12 different variations of Beta casein that exist today. Out of those 12, three are well known and researched which are called Beta casein A1, Beta casein A2 and Beta casein B. So if you hear terms like A1 or A2 milk, it is in reference to the type of Beta casein it contains — A1 or A2.”
Likewise, when it comes to choosing between jersey and desi cow milk there is no proven scientific data that stamps one is better than the other. “Jersey cow milk has been consumed by humans since centuries all over the world. It is absolutely safe to consume and is very easily acceptable by human body. All one needs to ensure is that the milk being consumed is farm fresh and organic, no matter where it comes from,” avers Kejriwal.
Certification and standards
Today with several brands using the word organic, healthy and fresh interchangeably, there is a lot of confusion over choosing the right product. You can make the right choice by following a few simple steps. For one, check if the brand has an organic certificate by a valid government agency. Secondly, check for the source of the milk. If the milk is purchased/ collected from different farms, it clearly shows an open ended loop as the milk can easily be tampered with.
Akshayakalpa is certified as per the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) and Canadian organic standards. “Milk’s quality is bound to be poor because each farm treats its cows differently, feeds different food, uses human hands for milking and the like. High quality machines should be used end-to-end to ensure that right from milking to bottling, every aspect is untouched by humans,” says Kejriwal.
An oft-ignored concept behind organic food is the role of innovative technology. “In case of Akshayakalpa, we make it a point that our consumers really understand the story behind the cup of milk they drink. For example, we have 160 farms and automation at farm level ensures quality milk production. At the farm itself, the milk is chilled to 4°C and it is untouched by human hand from the cow to your doorstep. The state-of-the-art milking systems milk up to 25 cows within 1.5 hours. The system is also equipped with sensors to record the body temperature of the cow, the quality of milk and potential infections,” says Shashi Kumar.
Indians are going all out switching from regular to organic milk and the change is one for the better. After all, health comes first and you are entitled to drink pure milk — one of the most favoured drinks of the country!