Recently, there has been a lot of talk on whether organic food is healthier for you. One day a study shows that organics is not healthier and the next day another study shows they are. We, at Zweber Farms, cannot speak to whether our milk has more or less nutrients. We are not nutritionists; we are dairy farmers. We can only speak to the concrete things we witness everyday. Our “evidence” is in our cows health, our soil fertility and the increased wildlife nesting and living on our farm.
When our farm decided to start pasturing our cows in the late ’80’s, we did it because of cost reasons. Parts of our land are highly erodible and it makes more economic sense to keep grass on that land instead of tilling it for corn or soybeans. So our cows were no longer housed in our tie-stall barn and were sent out to graze the pastures. Organic’s, or sustainable farming, was not something we had heard much about at the time. We were just being frugal.
Along the way though, we have noticed that our herd’s health has greatly improved. We actually hardly ever have a serious health problem on our farm. This is probably because our animals get plenty of fresh air and sunshine. It also doesn’t hurt that they walk on average a mile each day to and from pastures and the barn.
The soil that we do use for corn is rotated between, alfalfa, and barley and pea mixes. Alfalfa fixates more nitrogen in the soil and when plowed under, more organic matter. Our soil is full of nutrients and rotating our crops keeps weeds and pest at bay. We only cultivate (weed with a tractor) once when the plants are small. Last year our nonGMO, untreated, organically managed corn, yielded the same results as most GMO and sprayed corn in our area.
The biggest improvement we have noticed is the increased wildlife on our farm. This year we had hundreds of monarch butterflies land in our pasture trees. They were grouping before their long journey to Mexico. We also have noticed an increase in birds, especially the return of the Meadowlark.
Is organics better? That is a question you have to answer for your own family. For our family and farm, organic is better.