Moo-ove Over Bessie, There’s a New Cow In Town

cows on pasture

Earlier this week, we received this glowing email from a Farmhouse Delivery customer:

“I am incredibly excited for milk from Gramen Farms to become available! Like many others, I cannot handle the protein found in Holstein cow milk & the opportunity to eat yogurt, milk with cereal, ice cream, cheese, etc. is SO exciting! Thank you for this partnership & providing this to your customers! :)” -Kait

So what is it about Gramen milk that sets it apart? In short: Jersey cows.

About 90% of milk produced in the United States comes from Holstein cows, a breed that you might recognize as fitting the stereotypical cow image (large in size with black and white spots, like the one right of center in the photo above). Jersey cows, however, (like the light brown cow pictured in the center) are a much rarer breed, producing lower quantities of milk (and, many would argue, at a much higher level of quality).

While Holstein cow milk has a color, flavor, and consistency most of us identify as fairly standard, Jersey cow milk sets itself apart. Jersey cow milk is characterized by its slightly golden hue, buttery flavor, and richer and creamier consistency, causing it to be highly coveted by chefs and cereal lovers alike. But beyond its culinary benefits, what’s most surprising is its health benefits.

Holstein cows produce what’s called an A1 protein in their milk, thought to have developed as a genetic mutation while being bred to produce larger quantities of milk. What you’ll find in the milk of Jersey cows, however, is a prevalence of the A2 protein, one which occurs most frequently in Asian and African breeds of cows, as well as Jersey and Guernsey cows. What sounds like a seemingly small difference between the two genetic proteins is believed, by scientists and nutritionists alike, to be significant.

In the Mother Jones article You’re Drinking the Wrong Kind of Milk, Professor of farm management and agribusiness at Lincoln University in New Zealand, Keith Woodford states, “We’ve got a huge amount of observational evidence that a lot of people can digest the A2 but not the A1,” going on to say “More than 100 studies suggest links between the A1 protein and a whole range of health conditions” including diabetes, lactose intolerance, heart disease, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Certainly, this is not to say that everyone is effected by Holstein cow milk in the same way. Many digest the A1 protein without difficulty. However, as the number of people with lactose intolerance continues to climb, a number of previously intolerant consumers are finding that Jersey cow-produced milk allows them to once again return to their old milk-loving ways.

Now, who brought the cookies?

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