Benefits of clover
The difference in omega-3 is because organic animals have to eat a more natural grass-based diet containing high levels of clover.
Clover is used in organic farming to fix nitrogen so that crops and grass grow (instead of manufactured/chemical fertilisers), and this research has found that clover also increases the omega-3 concentrations in meat and milk.
Under organic standards, organic cows must eat a 60% fresh grass-based diet or hay/silage (conserved grass).
Comparable iodine levels
Historic research highlighted that organic milk contained less iodine, and the industry has taken steps to address this.
OMSCo (the Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative) – representing over 65% of the UK’s organic milk supply – announced that in 2015 organic milk had achieved comparable levels of iodine to conventional and in 2016, following recent testing of bottled milk, they announced these levels of iodine have been maintained.
‘We initiated projects to boost iodine levels and applied these to our farmer members’ enterprises, and by early 2015 we announced that we’d achieved comparable levels with those in the conventional market. Our latest results have shown that one year on from the initial milestone we’re maintaining those levels.’
Richard Hampton, managing director at OMSCo
The work builds on a previous study by the team – involving experts from the UK, US, France, Italy, Switzerland and Poland – investigating the composition of organic and conventionally grown crops.
This previous study – also published in the British Journal of Nutrition – showed that organic crops and crop-based foods are up to 60% higher in a number of key antioxidants than conventionally grown crops and contained less of the toxic metal cadmium.
‘We have shown without doubt there are composition differences between organic and conventional food. Taken together, the three studies on crops, meat and milk suggest that a switch to organic fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products would provide significantly higher amounts of dietary antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.’
Professor Carlo Leifert, study lead, Newcastle University
The entire database generated and used for this analysis is freely available on the Newcastle University website, alongside the data from their previous study on organic versus conventional crops.
Click here to read the full study in the British Journal of Nutrition.