Milk : Is There Really a Difference in Brands, Organic, Etc.?

Updated on July 21, 2010
C.F. asks from Naperville, IL
24 answers

Hi Moms,

I have a daughter who will be transitioning from formula to milk in a few weeks. Is there really a difference in the brands or type of milk (organic, etc.) one can buy? I buy store brand for myself and my husband (Meijier, Target, Jewel)...but I'm not sure what to buy my daughter. Thoughts? I have Target/Archer Farms in the fridge now and the label states that the cows are not treated with rBST.


What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Chicago on

Yes, there is a difference. The Rolls-Royce of milk is grass-fed organic. Cows designed to eat grass and by doing so they pass on good Omega 3 fats to you as well as some other good stuff. Next in line would be organic. You do not want to drink antibiotics and hormones that have been given to a cow just because of bad animal husbandry practice. As a side note, we made organic milk a requirement at preschool. The reason the teachers allowed it is because 2 of them were lactose intolerant and they discovered that they could drink the organic milk (specifically the grass fed type- Omega 3's affect the inflammatory process) . Sorry this was so long, but I feel it is important information to pass on.

Edit My Answer
1 mom found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Eugene on

There is a huge difference between organic and commercially raised dairy cows, and there is a huge difference between what the milk is like for humans, especially small humans. Organic milk means that the cow has been raised with no antibiotics, no artificial hormones, and no petrochemicals in it's feed-pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, fertilizers, etc. Usually organic also means primarily grass fed cows--which are much healthier.

Since all the toxins that ARE present in non-organic dairy and are NOT present in organic dairy are fat soluble, these toxins will build up in the body, being released over time as the body fat gets utilized.

Among other things, among my three daughters, who had primarily organic dairy (and not lots of that, either), they did NOT develop puberty early, while about half their classmates (the ones who ate lots of fast food, lots of dairy from non-organic sources, a very "conventional American diet") were getting their first periods, bras, acted like pre-teens and were about a foot taller than the other girls (the ones with the organic diets) by 9-10 years old. The others, including my daughters, had more normal development around 11-12 or even later.

It's pretty scary, especially in this day and age when so many women end up with breast or other cancers--again, likely from fat-soluble toxins stored in fat dense tissues. I would stick with organic dairy, and I would consider just keeping the dairy levels down altogether, since it is not an essential food.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Lots and lots of differences, even between non-rbst milks. ((Although I'm what's called a "supertaster" so I don't know how true this is for everyone))

The "organic" milk in our area is pasteurized for scheisse. It goes sour within a day of opening it. So so SO gross.

Most storebrand milk tastes chemically/thin.

Trader Joes & Whole Foods storebrands, for some reason just tastes delicious.

Local milk tastes ice cream creamy.

All of these milks are non-rbst, pasteurized, and 2%.

Partly I'm sure it has to do with use by dates (as in how fresh the milk is)... which those dates vary a LOT. TJ's and WF's store brand use by dates are typically 30-60 days in the future, other storbrand milks are typically within 7-14 days. Which means their milks are older. Like leaving TJ's milk in the fridge for a month and a half and THEN drinking it.

And partly I'm sure it has to do with hold the milk was stored. Milk doesn't taste/texture the same defrosted as never frozen milk. Also, milks that have been allowed to warm up and cool down are more prone to going bad sooner. AND pasteurization processes vary (has to meet min standards in order to be known as pasteruzing, but the length of time & methods vary from dairy to dairy and company to company).

Personally I buy from TJ's & WF. I costs 1/3 as much as storebrand regular store in our area and is soooooo much better. They also cost a little less than local dairy milk, even though they're not *quite* as good... they're so close, and so much better than what I grew up with, that I'm really happy with them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

Yes, this is a touchy subject, and I am choosing not to read the other responses.

Food, Inc. is not a documentary. It's an opinion film that has an agenda. Oprah actually did a show about it last year and had both sides of the argument defending themselves. The fact is, no one knows for sure.

Here's what I can say definitively. When I was diagnosed with cancer after my daughter's birth 2 years ago, I asked my oncologist how to change my diet expecting them to tell me to switch to organic produce and free range chicken. All I was told was to get more protein in my diet to help preserve my strength.

Learn what Organic really means. Organic items can be treated with pesticides. Yep. It's the truth. There are pesticides that are approved by OMRI for use in organic food production.

Ask your pediatrician what their thoughts are and what scientific evidence supports your decision one way or another.

I am a recent cancer survivor. I have no idea what caused it, but none of the lymphoma experts I saw during my treatment were concerned about organic vs. non-organic foods, milk included.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My kids and I have always drank kroger brand milk and are FINE!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

There is no difference, just be sure it is whole milk so she is getting the correct level of fats, it is very important for brain development.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Nashville on

I don't know that there is a huge difference since so many children drink 'regular' milk and are fine. However, I don't like the idea of putting impurities in my child. I always buy my 16 month old daughter organic whole milk. I will usually buy whichever is on sale, either Archer Farms organic or Horizon brand (I grocery shop at Target). For myself and my husband, we drink regular store brand milk for the sake of money. I think it is just about personal preference. I like her to have as much organic as possible, but when we are at a restaurant and we order milk, I don't freak out when it isn't organic.

Just do whatever makes you feel best. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Hello there! There are many things we have to take into account to decide in feeding and caring for our children and many different viewpoints out there. Whatever you decide, it is up to you to decide what is right for your family.

The only thing that I would caution you, or anyone else against on this message board is to be careful what you receive as information and how you receive the information. I had read a few bad things about milk and dairy products and decided to do my own research that didn't depend on looking at internet sites created by others. Based on this research, our family's needs, and our personal beliefs, I decided that organic milk was right for our entire family.

So, whatever you decide, it will be right for you and your family!

Take care and good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I think it's important to give her milk that is rBST free because rBST is a hormone that over time can affect her. Nothing has been proven yet but why take a chance?

I also suggest that organic is better, tho I'm not consistent about buying organic. Here is my reasoning. When I was a baby and a child and a young adult we did not have all the chemicals and hormones that are added to food now. Because my growth periods are over it's not so important for me to protect my body in that way. I recently began to eat raw organic fruits and vegetables because I have recently experienced food intolerances or perhaps allergies and am thinking that what my system is actually objecting to are the chemicals used in the foods production.

A couple of weeks ago my daughter tried organic pasteurized whole milk that was not homogenized. This means that the milk was processed at a lower temperature and that the cream separates out. She said the milk tastes a whole lot better. I'm guessing that since it was processed at a lower temperature it has the possibility of containing more nutrients.

Because my grandfather was a dairy farmer I started life with organic and unprocessed milk. I believe that raw milk could be the best for us but in today' s world of increased pathogens and bacteria I would not drink it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

Wow, I can't believe this! Cow's milk is made for calves, just as human breast milk is made naturally for our children. We are the only mammals to give our offspring (or to consume) the lactation of another species and also the only to drink these milks after our natural weaning period. Cows milk is a source of growth for a calf to become a 2000+pound cow.
Organic may sound better but the cow is not treated more 'humanely' they are still raped (to continue to become pregnant so they can keep lactating) their male children are still sent off to be locked in a small crate and murdered after 14 weeks, and their female babies have the same life they do and ultimately murdered for meat.
Dairy products are NOT needed for human health, if anything they are detrimental to our health.
They cause asthma, heart disease, juvenile diabetes, anemia, obesity, tumors, growths, osteoperosis, cysts, cancer, hyperactivity, multiple allergies and the list continues.
check out
need calcium? you can get it from sesame seeds, green leafy veggies
here is a great link:

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

When you compare apples to apples the only difference is how long it has traveled to get to your grocery store. Same thing with eggs. Look for local dairys.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

My three year old has NEVER had a glass of milk in her life......its not as important as they make you think. A little cheese, a little yogurt......

BTW, my three year old could climb Mt. Everest.....she is strong, meaty, little fat, and coordinated. She is very dont have to focus on milk...just focus on dairy.....

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Huge difference- all you have to do is taste an organic brand vs a store brand and you can tell.
Organic don't use antibiotics on their cattle as a precautionary measure, they also feed them organic feed (often times just grass which is MUCH better for them/us than the corn grain most get fed).
Don't get me wrong, my son (20 months) LOVES milk and will drink any whole milk in front of him, but when I get him organic milk even he can tell the difference and always looks at me and emphatically states, "YUM!" LOL

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I can see this is a very touchy topic so I'll keep my response short and sweet. If you are really interested in finding out more about organics and what we are putting in our bodies I would highly recommend watching "Food Inc." It's a great documentary that recently came out and explains a lot! Check it out and make the decision that seems the best for your family.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I started my almost-7 yr old son with Oberweis milk when he was just over 1-yr old. With it being non-rBST, I figured it was a good alternative to the cheaper brand milks. I bought it in the store and when the prices got a little higher, we switched to organic. I personally didn't like the idea of all that extra stuff getting into his body that regular milk has. He's not one of the larger kids in his class and I'm actually hoping that the lack of milk hormones has something to do with that (after all, why have humans been getting bigger and taller over the years? There's got to be SOME reason--I'm not saying artificial cow hormones leeching into milk is the only factor, but could be a contributor among other environmental factors). My now-1-yr old daughter has started on milk and I got a deal with free delivery on Oberweis for 6 months. That made the Oberweis cheaper than buying organic at the store. Once the 6 months is up, I'll either buy directly from Oberweis (right by my house) or switch to organic. I look at Oberweis as "organic-light". It's not organic, but it's not regular either--it's in the middle. However, I do try to buy organic whenever possible.

Plus, from cow to my door is 48 hrs. Now THAT'S fresh!



answers from Chicago on

We give our 15 month old organic whole milk. usually the horizon brand with dha added. I am not a huge milk drinker, and either is my husband, so we don't give our son too much. I am also surprised how many people will only give organic milk, but never breastfed and think formula is okay:)



answers from Boston on

I have always bought the store brand for my 3 boys. My youngest has never been a milk drinker until I bought some organic milk and now he loves it. I am not a milk drinker so I'm not sure if there is a taste difference but my 3 year old prefers the organic over store brand.



answers from Columbus on

We buy hormone-free cow or goats milk; whole milk, not reduced fat for our toddler, and have since he was a 1-year-old. The rest of us (mostly me) drink 1% store brand milk. According to our pediatrician, the baby should have whole milk till he turns 2.

Goat milk actually is somewhat easier to digest and offers similar properties (protein, calcuim). Milk, goat or cow, should not be the sole source of calcuim/vitamins (though I'm sure you know that); goat milk is a bit lower in calcium than cow milk. But if she cow milk dislikes cow milk, try goat milk.

In the US culture, we as a nation drink cow milk. That doesn't mean everyone has to, and it's a matter of choice/preference. :) Me, I love dairy. :)


answers from Los Angeles on

We only buy organic, and we have tried them all. Our favorite, with all things else equal (no antibiotics, rBST, etc.) is Stremicks (Heritage-Foods). The taste is unbelievable! So creamy tasting, even the 1%. See what brands are available in your area, then check out this milk ratings page and do some comparisons.



answers from Chicago on

When my daughter transitioned to milk, I decided to skip the "organic" and purchase the non-rBST milks. At first, I bought the very expensive Oberweis, but the difference in taste was minimal in comparison to the non-rBST milk we began buying from Costco (the Kirkland brand is under $2 a gallon -- and rBST free). Yes, it was SO convenient to have my milk delivered to my front door...but from a taste perspective, I'm not sure it was worth the 2-3 times the cost of store-bought non-rBST milk.

I think the milk you have now sounds perfectly fine, in my opinion. But if you have the time, maybe you could buy several different milks you are considering and have a friend set-up a "blind" taste test for you! If you do this, be sure to update your post with what you went with! :)



answers from Chicago on

i wouldnt give my kid anything but organic from a reliable brand like Organic Valley.



answers from Columbus on

My husband was raised on/near dairy farms his entire life. We purchase a cow and pig every year that we pay to be raised and then butchered for our meat instead of purchasing at grocery store. With that, my husbands point of view on this such topic is this... Whether you buy organic or store brand both cows still have to be given something "extra" to produce that kind of milk. And this is only his opinion, but he just feels that you are paying for the "friendliness" of a cow with organic vs store brand.

In my opinion tho, haha, I would def prefer to buy organic, but we do not. As I said, we pay for our own cow and pig every year that we know the farmer who raises it, so why wouldn't we do that with our milk? But his opinion trumps mine in this situation and we do buy just reg store brand milk.

I doubt my opinion has helped ya, haha, but just wanted to share.

Good Luck in your decision.



answers from New York on

your question was to the point, and i don't see a part where you ask whether our kids should drink cow milk :)
so to answer your question, my kids dictated what they liked. when i switched to regular milk i first offered them store brand. they didn't go for it. tried a few times, they did not like it.
i have to say first it's been decades since i have tasted milk, so i didn't know the difference. when my kids refused regular whole milk i was getting worried until a friend of mine said try horizon organic milk.
wow they drank it, which puzzled me so i took a sip from both, regular and organic and i could clearly tell a difference. i can't afford to go all organic but now i do at least when it comes to fish, dairy, vegetables, and fruit.



answers from Chicago on

Wow. People are really touchy about this topic.. I do feed my son only organic milk due to many of the reasons people have already responded with, I just think if you can miminize risks in life, you should. With that said.. we are the only specicies on this earth that do a lot of things. We aren't wild animals eating on instrict to survive, we make choices. In my opinion, milk is a great source of protein and other nutrients, so unless you are subsitutiing with something else, it is a very nutricious part of a human diet. Get off your soapbox's people and answer the question that was asked!

Next question: Whole Milk or Organic Whole Milk for My Baby?