Saturday, June 16, 2007

Organic Milk, Please!

To get a headstart for next month's Local Food Challenge, I biked to the Farmers' Market today with the goal of buying local veggies. Well, that was the plan. Instead of buying veggies, however, I bought organic milk from Susan Siemers, who purchased this milk from Traders Point Creamery, which is Indiana's only processor of organic milk located in Zionsville, IN.

So far, so good. The cows are grass-fed and the milk is produced without using chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, synthetic hormones or antibiotics. And it's as close to buying 'local' milk as I'm going to get. So I consider this a small victory.

And I met a new friend today! Susan is passionate about organic farming. She's a farmer herself. (Oh, but she's not your prototypical farmer--Susan has a finance degree from Northwestern University!) She's also a member of the Walkerton Dairy Herd Association. We had a lively discussion about Monsanto, genetically-modified foods and its potential health implications, statistics, and the consumption of plastic bags. Yes, it was quite a dynamic conversation!


Experimentaholic said...

So can you tell the difference between regular and organic milk, Dr. Verges? With 100% less bovine somatotrophin? I imagine a study...8 glasses of milk, 4 organic, 4 regular, and see if you can correctly guess which is which. This would bear a striking resemblance to the history of Ronald Fisher's development of the exact test, which he formulated to determine whether a fellow scientist could tell the difference between tea with milk added into it, or milk with tea added into it.
(To read the history, check out the following wikipedia pages:

We are super dorks, now, aren't we?

No, just me.

Michelle Verges, Project Director said...

Yah know, I was wondering the very same question this morning!

Although I'd like to think that I can tell the difference between regular and organic milk, I don't think I can. But I was trying to!!

The only conclusion I've made is that the organic milk is creamier. But what do you expect? It's whole milk, not the 2% milk I'm used to buying.

So, no real conclusions can be drawn at this time. Of course, it can be tested, as you mentioned in your post. :0)

I had no idea Sir Ronald Fisher tested the "tea w/ milk vs. milk w/ tea" hypothesis. Go figure, he is British after all.

Hmm...without having read the history of this account, I'm going to have to go with the null hypothesis on this one.

Yah, we're big time dorks. I'm just not sure who's the bigger dork!


Experimentaholic said...

Next time I see you I am going to give you a book called The Lady Tasting Tea: How Statistics Revolutionized Science in the Twentieth Century by David Salsburg. It tells a nice story about the history of statistics. Look at us! The history of statistics!

But the question isn't difference in taste, but rather differences in the chemicals like bovine hormones that you can't taste, but have health consequences we can't predict.

Let's just settle with we're equally big dorks.

Michelle Verges, Project Director said...

Don't you think there's been animal studies that test the question you're posing?

But I think you're right: We simply don't know what the implications may be for consuming these hormones.

Oh no! Now I want to do a medline search and see what's been published on this subject!! But I've really got to finish writing a report that was due on Friday!!

By the way, I'm eager to read that stats really sounds interesting!