Boneless Bananas, Hormone Free Milk & Other BS. #BSLabels

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December 7, 2011 by Carrie Mess

Seriously? I hope not....

I love a good marketing idea. My background is in marketing. Sometimes in the shower I still come up with brilliant marketing ideas while I shampoo. As much as I love a good marketing idea, I hate bad marketing. The kind of marketing that assumes the person buying the product is an idiot. The kind of marketing that takes the obvious, say some bananas and adds #BSLabels like boneless to them. Now honestly I don’t think this sign is “real”. I suspect that someone with a sense of humor printed it out to bring a smile to the face of shoppers. At least I really, really hope that is the case. While some of these labels may be more on the fun side there are plenty that mislead consumers by saying they don’t have such and such current buzz word, or that they do have such and such buzzword. “No High Fructose Corn Syrup” on Peanut Butter, when none of the other peanut butters contain HFCS. What about one brand of cereal claiming to be in a recyclable box sitting on the self next to 100′s of all recyclable boxes? Of course being who I am the #BSlabel that gets me ticked off the most is milk labeled as “Hormone Free”.

No argument here!

So what part of “Hormone Free” makes me call BS? All of it. No milk is hormone free, milk is a bodily secretion controlled by hormones. That’s how our bodies work, that’s how a cows body works.  I googled “Hormone free milk” today and saw pages and pages of information, blog posts and general confusion about what hormones in milk meant. One thing I didn’t see was information from dairy farmers on what hormones in milk means to them. So here is my attempt to clear up some misconception and misinformation on milk hormones.

Confusion!

Organic milk doesn’t have hormones in it…. 

Organic, conventional, goat, sheep, cow or human breast milk, it doesn’t matter, all milk has hormones in it.

But Organic milk is tested for additional hormones….

There is no way to test for hormones in milk, any milk,  because all milk has hormones in it.

You can test milk for rBST ….

First of all, rBST is a synthetic hormone that some farmers use to help in milk production. You cannot test milk for rBST because the synthetic version of the hormone is close enough to the natural hormone that it is undetectable.

And I would like to point out this....

 So how do I know if dairy farmers are using rBST? 

If you are buying milk that is labeled as rBST free it means that the farmers that send their milk to that milk company have all signed contracts that say they will not use rBST on their cows.

So why do dairy farmers use rBST?

I will answer this from my own experience and perspective. Farmers use rBST for a few different reasons. When a cow calves she starts to produce milk. Her milk production naturally will peak at around 90 days in milk and then will trail off over the next few months. By using rBST dairy farmers can help hold off the decline for a little while. Some farmers use it on their whole herd. Some farmers use it on individual cases. Take Norma, The Best Cow Ever (the one on my blog header) she is a fantastic cow and I love her more than it’s normal to love a cow. She calved last time back in March. If things went the way they should she would have got pregnant again in June, and calved again in March. However instead of things working out as they should, Norma didn’t get pregnant on her first breeding in June, she did get pregnant on the second breeding in July but then we had a long streak of hot weather and she lost her calf and got a uterine infection. After we got that cleared up we bred her again, this time she had a case of mastitis and didn’t get pregnant. Long story short she just now is finally pregnant. With all of this going on I faced a choice. Do I do nothing and let Norma go down on milk production to the point that it is costing me money each day to keep her as a pet? Do I use rBST to keep her milking and a productive member of the herd? Or do I sell her to slaughter when she reaches the point of costing money to keep around. I chose to use rBST. I chose to do this because these are the choices we have to make for all of our cows, regardless of pet status or not.

If you love Norma so much why don’t you marry her?

I love my husband and that’s illegal in this state.

I want to know more about rBST….

Check out this website or ask me a qustion in the comments section. If I don’t know the answer I will connect you with someone who can answer.

 

 

25 thoughts on “Boneless Bananas, Hormone Free Milk & Other BS. #BSLabels

  1. Mandy Deveno says:

    Thank you Carrie!
    I come from a dairy and biotech background and feel that too many consumers are mis-led by fear mongrols that have no idea what they are talking about. If used in the correct way rBST will help your producing herd.

    Your body cannot tell the difference. Why? Because it’s the same hormone that the cow makes! It’s just made by bacteria instead. rBST only has a positive effect if the cow is cared for and fed properly too.
    And to all the consumers out there…as far as I know, there is no way to test for it. You should be more worried about the plastics and other types of storage containers the milk comes in.
    Here’s to the informed consumer!

  2. Lana says:

    LOVE this! I’m putting out as many places as I can possibly post it, and I think some of my Real Farmwives of America are doing the same. If we do not educate our customers, we raise beef cattle, but my husband and his family had a small dairy for 40 years, then we will soon be out of business thanks to clever truth-twisters.

  3. Josie says:

    fear-based marketing tactics are my BIGGEST pet peeve, and people concerned about the use of rBST drive me nuts. I did a huge presentation on this my senior year of undergrad, and every speech class I’ve ever taken i did a similar “informative” speech.

    Other favorite fun facts:

    “‘Organic’ milk tastes better.” Well of course it does, if you look at the nutritional facts on the back of the Horizon Organic Milk carton and compare their 2% to Walmart’s generic brand 2% you will notice an extra GRAM OF SUGAR PER SERVING. Mmm, add some sugar to that, I bet it DOES taste better.

    “The hormones are affecting us in ways that you don’t know about/our kids are hitting puberty sooner/oh no the hormones!!!/etc/variations thereof.” Did anyone else catch that rBST is a peptide hormone? Not even a sterol? So it is comprised of long chains of amino acids. Last I checked no one got their panties in a wad for consuming “extra protein” in their shakes this morning. The peptide chains break down in our stomachs and our bodies use the amino acids…oh wait…like all other amino acids (insert giant picture of a steak in your powerpoint here).

  4. sheepwriter says:

    Great post….this is stuff people need to know. There’s way too much misinformation out there!!

  5. LOVE THIS!!

    Part of my motivation for starting an ag blog myself came from a similar place…I was on Facebook one day and a friend had posted something about having watched Food Inc., and she and a few of her friends were discussing how they would only buy hormone free milk and beef from now on.

    After I quit banging my head on my desk, I explained to them how that was impossible.

    Change happens one person at a time, right?

  6. aggirl says:

    I am posting this on my facebook.

  7. [...] The Adventures of Dairy Carrie we have “Boneless Bananas, Hormone Free Milk, & Other BS.  #BSLables”.  Some great insight on milk production that everyone should [...]

  8. I really enjoy reading your blog! Very funny! I have nominated you for The Versatile Blogger
    Award.

    http://countryboycitygirls.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/versatile_blogger_award/

  9. tamsyn says:

    This is just a thought, but I think one reason many people have concerns about rBST is that they equate such additives with inhumane animal treatment. They assume that if cows are given a hormone additive, they must be living in a place where they’re worked so hard it’s like the cow version of child labor seen in the 1800′s and 1900′s. So the rejection of rBST is partly a rejection of what they presume to be getting milk from unhappy or inhumanely raised cows.

    While I think a lot of people also don’t understand what rBST really is, and there’s so much talk the last several years about additives in food more generally — you might want to address the animal husbandry issue a little more in your blogs and outreach efforts. I think if more people understood that cows who are given rBST are treated just as humanely as cows not given rBST, they might feel less scared or averse to it.

    I can see some of these ideas right in my own family… my mother lives in a big city, is very much an urban, big-city person — but insists on buying everything organic, including milk, almost in an elitist sort of a way, and is very susceptible to the hype. I know she doesn’t really understand what goes on on farms, or how farmers really produce their crops — or raise their livestock. She’s just gotten swept up in this idea that “organic must be better” (and I like organic sometimes too, but I’m also a huge advocate of supporting my local farmer — and I know that farmers care about their land, their animals, and that to be successful, they HAVE to provide good care and stewardship).

    While I grew up in the city too — the first generation of my dad’s side not to grow up on a farm — I was at least fortunate enough to have my grandma, who farmed her whole life, and my aunt, who still runs a sheep farm — and my dad, who grew up on the farm, which included raising dairy cattle. They were wonderful reference points for information.

    But I had to work hard, still, to shed some of the ambient information that tends to float around cities, especially, about how things work in agriculture. While I always tended to seek out lots of information first before making a personal decision, it helped a lot when I got writing jobs communicating about agriculture after I graduated, moved to smaller towns, and got a lot more first-hand experience with a wider range of ag operations.

    So, having straddled the fence between those people you’re trying to educate with all your outreach, and someone who’s become a lot more educated and come to realize the many nuances, complexities and at times misinformation out there, I can say I think it would help a lot if people started hearing some more first-hand information about what a day in the life of the average dairy cow really IS like.

    (And btw, your blog is awesome! This is exactly what people need to see more of!).

    • DairyCarrie says:

      So sorry I didn’t get this comment approved earlier! I don’t think I got notice that it was here waiting.

      You make an excellent point! I do try to show how we really do things and why we do what we do. I also try to have people from non farm backgrounds come out and visit the farm and see for themselves. I hope to continue to show what the truth is about dairy farming.

  10. Love the blog! LOL–boneless bananas! Truely good post on educating people on the truth of what goes on. If people really stopped to think about it–why would milk be hormone free? But–then again we’re asking people to think beyond what media tells them.

    Good choice with Norma too :-)

  11. [...] is visiting. So don’t worry, I won’t know if you really don’t know about “Boneless Bananas“ and “Hormone Free Milk” which are the top searched terms that brings people to [...]

  12. Kimberly says:

    To be fair you should inform your readers that rBST has been linked to cancer. I get that you don’t believe it, but it is there. I farm as well, and I know the realities of the finances, but no one should have to die of cancer because you wanted to use an engineered hormone to keep money in your pocket.

    • dairycarrie says:

      Hi Kimberly,
      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. If I knew of a study that hadn’t been discredited that showed an increased incidence of cancer related to the use of rBST I would certainly include it in my post as well as reconsider using it. However from your comment I don’t think you even bothered to read this post so I doubt that you’re here to learn or listen to a point of view other than your own.

  13. [...] on, being a rock star and gave me another daughter in March of 2011. Then in her next lactation she had problems getting pregnant again. Most cows that would have had so many breeding and still not gotten pregnant would of had to be [...]

  14. brandibuzzard says:

    I’m definitely bookmarking this blog post to use for future reference – thanks!

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