For those of you readers who had questions or concerns about milk and milk labeling, here's an explanation of the difference between raw, pasteurized, and organic milk.

Raw Milk: Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized before consumption. It may be produced under conventional or organic practices.

It cannot be sold in stores, only directly from farms that are certified to do so by the New York State Department of Ag & Markets.

Pasteurized Milk: Pasteurization kills harmful microorganisms by heating the milk for a short time and then cooling it for storage and transportation. Pasteurized milk is still perishable and must be stored cold by both suppliers and consumers. Dairies print expiration dates on each container, after which stores will remove any unsold milk from their shelves. All milk sold in any store in the state is pasteurized.

Organic Milk: Organic Milk is from farms that have been certified to use the term "organic" by NOFA (the Northeast Organic Farming Association). To be certified these farms must follow strict guidelines set by NOFA regarding the use of fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics, etc. Organic milk is available in local grocery stores and is therefore pasteurized.

To sum up, any milk sold in any store in the state must be pasteurized, whether or not the label says it is pasteurized. Organic milk comes from farms that are certified to ensure they follow the strict guidelines and is sold in stores. Raw milk is not pasteurized and can only be sold directly on a farm that has been licensed with a special permit to sell raw milk.

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Dairy cows provide us with milk and milk by-products like cheese, butter, and ice cream. In addition, milk is also used to manufacture glue, paint, and plastics.

Straight from the cow, the temperature of cow's milk is about 97 degrees Fahrenheit.

The average U.S. dairy cow produces 22.5 quarts of milk each day. That's about 16,000 glasses of milk per year "" enough for about 40 people. One cow can give 200,000 glasses of milk in a lifetime.

It takes approximately 1.4 gallons of milk to make 1 gallon of ice cream.

Cheese was first made over 4,000 years ago in Asia.

A cow has four stomachs. They are: the rumen, where the food is first stored; the reticulum, where food that has been more thoroughly chewed is stored once the cow has chewed the cud and has swallowed it; the omasum, where extra water is squeezed out; and finally the food goes to the abomasum. Some of the digested food is then stored in the cow's udder where it is made into milk.

Cows are ruminants or cud-chewing animals, eating hay, corn, soybeans, grass, wheat, and silage. On the average, a dairy cow eats 20 to 25 pounds of grain, 40 to 60 pounds of silage, 30 pounds of hay and drinks about 15 to 25 gallons of water a day.

Cows are sedentary animals spending up to 8 hours a day chewing their cud while standing still or lying down to rest after grazing.

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