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When the Washington State WIC Nutrition Program Approved Food list was made available, Organic Milk was not listed as an approved item for use. Over 900 people contacted Washington State WIC and below is WIC's response. You can learn more by visiting their website: www.doh.wa.gov.
Answer: The reason is cost. Most organic milk costs over two times more than non-organic milk. When organic milk was approved for Washington WIC eight years ago, it was only slightly more costly. This is no longer true and we cannot afford to approve organic milk.
We heard from over 900 people asking us to keep organic milk approved. Many made statements that organic milk is better - more nutritious and with fewer pesticides, hormones and antibiotics than non-organic milk.
We are aware there are studies that show the benefits of organic food as well as studies which either do not show a benefit, or actually show a negative effect. WIC's primary mission is nutrition education, not research or interpreting data, and so we rely on scientific experts at universities and other organizations to interpret all the studies and provide guidance for food selection. In particular we look to the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics. They and other experts do not currently state organic food should be available through WIC programs.
Without support from the experts we cannot justify the additional cost of organic milk. We understand this is disappointing for some WIC clients, and we encourage clients who prefer organic milk to stay on the WIC program for other program benefits and foods. For these clients we can take milk off of their WIC checks.
The letter on this page from Washington State WIC lists organizations and institutions that declare there is ‘no benefit to children from organic food’. We, as organic producers, resource individuals, advocates and consumers of organic food know that this is not true:
“Well over 100 studies have been published comparing the nutrient content of organic and conventional food grown on similar soils in the same region. The results show that organic foods are nutritionally superior in about two-thirds of the "matched pair" cases, and moreover, the magnitude of the differences clearly favor organic production systems,” Dr. Preston Andrews, Washington State University.
The Organic Center at http://www.organic-center.org has plenty of scientific information and references to argue the case to your State department that makes these decisions. Make the case that, per dollar spent, WIC recipients receive more nutrients by buying organic milk and produce.
Posted: to Industry News on Mon, Mar 9, 2009
Updated: Mon, Mar 9, 2009