‘No Artificial Growth Hormones’ Now a Major Selling Point

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I’ve got some good news and some bad news. We are now keenly aware of what’s lurking in our food – from pesticides to antibiotics to hormones – and it isn’t pretty. Dairy ads of yesteryear boasted bold, yet innocuous words like “creamy” and “delicious,” so when I recently drove past Tillamook‘s giant billboard shown above, shouting the words: “No Artificial Growth Hormones: We love our cows the way they are,” I didn’t quite know what to make of it. Tastefully triumphant or utterly depressing? This certainly isn’t your mother’s yogurt, thank goodness. But now we’re being marketed toxin-free food they way it always should have been made to begin with and we’re being charged extra for it!

Tillamook’s stance on the use of artificial bovine growth hormone is as follows: “From research, we determined that using milk produced without artificial growth hormone supplementation better meets our consumers’ expectations about our brand – a brand associated with premium quality, consistent and best tasting products.” The “farmer owned since 1909 county creamery,” based in Tillamook, Oregon is certainly keeping up with the times. This latest ad campaign is preying on widespread consumer fears about the toxins that exist in food. But should ads like this be applauded or met with dismay?

Before I move on, let’s take a look at what artificial bovine growth hormone actually is. We all know to avoid it and we’re familiar with the now thankfully widespread “NO rBGH” label on dairy products, but here’s what we’re really glad it isn’t in our dairy products.

Developed and brought to the table by agricultural giant Monsanto in 1993, rBGH – short for recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone and also known as rBST recombinant Bovine Somatotropin – is a synthetic growth hormone which is injected into cows to make them grow faster and artificially produce 10 to 15 percent more milk. In addition to the harmful effects this hormone has on cows, from deformities in calves to staggering increases in mastitis of cows’ udders, stress and malnourishment, rBGH is also cited by the Cancer Prevention Coalition as increasing cancer risks in humans.

Bottom line? I’m feeling both triumphant and depressed over Tillamook’s towering ad statement. Triumphant that indeed more and more companies are taking a stand against using growth hormones in the cows that produce their products, but depressed that this destructive hormone was ever brought to the market in the first place. It’s like going to a dinner party and having the host expect you to thank them for not poisoning your food. And we have to wonder, are we just scratching the surface here? What also still lies in our food and what’s to come?

Image: Tillamook“>Tillamook