(Health Secrets) Foods labeled as organic, connoting small scale farming and quality processing, are all the rage. But your favorite organic brands might not be so healthy after all. The Cornucopia Institute (CI), which advocates for real organic food produced on real family farms, has published an infographic that might come as a shock to millions of people who think that the food they buy comes from independent organic companies. In fact, many of today’s organic brands comes from the subsidiaries of giant junk food corporations.
According to CI, 81 independent organic processing companies existed in 1995 when the organic movement first started. However, today, that number has dropped to a mere 15, with the other 66 having been taken over, in recent years, by corporations such as PepsiCo, Inc. and ConAgra Foods, both of which spent millions in 2012 to defeat mandatory labeling requirements for genetically-modified organisms (GMOs).
“If you can’t beat ’em, buy ’em” seems to be the mantra of Big Food these days and CI’s infographic clearly illustrates this point. The Kellogg Corporation, for instance, which heavily markets cereal products containing processed sugar and GMOs to children, owns Kashi and Bear Naked, two food brands that claim to be healthy. Similarly, General Mills owns Cascadian Farm and Muir Glen, two prominent organic brands brands taking up considerable shelf space at health food stores nationwide.
“Corporate consolidation of the food system has been largely hidden from consumers,” explains CI. “That’s changing, thanks to tools such as Philip H. Howard’s widely circulated ‘Who Owns Organic?’ infographic,” which can be accessed directly at the first below.
First released in 2003, the infographic may be slightly outdated today, as some of the corporate alliances listed may have changed, but the reality is that the organic market, which in 2012 was declared to be the fastest growing sector in the grocery industry, is an obvious target of Big Food. And why wouldn’t it be, considering its rapid growth and accelerating interest among consumers looking for organic brands.
“The chart shows that many iconic organic brands are owned by the titans of junk food, processed food and sugary beverages — the same corporations that spent millions to defeat GMO labeling initiatives in California and Washington,” adds CI. “General Mills (which owns Muir Glen, Cascadian Farm and LaraBar), Coca-Cola (Honest Tea, Odwalla), J.M. Smucker (R.W. Knudsen, Santa Cruz Organic) and many other corporate owners of organic brands contributed big bucks to deny citizens’ the right to know what is in their food.”
Many major food processors are aligned with junk food conglomerates. Nearly all of the top 100 food processors in North America have ties to major conglomerates that are working against the interests of small-scale farmers and organic consumers. These food processors are slowly taking over many of the organic brands that those in the natural health food community have grown to trust over the years. When this happens, label readers often find that the contents of the products have been changed to provide less nutrition and more profits.
“Consumers who want food companies that embody more of the original organic ideals would do well to seek out products from independent organic firms,” says Dr. Phil Howard, an associate professor in the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University. “Given the very uneven playing field they are competing in, independent organic processors are unlikely to survive without such support.”
CI has developed a series of reports that ranks the best sources of organic dairy, meat, vegetables, cereal and other foods in order to help consumers make better food purchasing decisions.
The Weston A. Price Foundation has also developed a shopping guide for mobile phones called Find Real Food that allows users to search for the highest quality and most nutrient-dense foods from the best producers. View the guide at the second source below.
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