Discover more about all things organic. Do you want to plant some veggies? Interested in learning more about organically grown products and produce? We with some information and ideas. Keep checking back as we are going to talk about GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in food and recommend other great producers of tasty organic foods.
Find Out Which Organic Food Companies Owned by Mega Corporations
It may be shocking to you, but a large number of organic food companies are actually owned by mega corporations such as Pepsi and Kraft. These companies carelessly implant genetically modified ingredients into their food products and are environmentally destructive, but their organic food subsidiary companies are often toted as environmentally safe and health conscious. One such example is the Honest Tea company, which is actually owned by the Coca-Cola company. Perhaps it’s time to see if your favorite organic food company is actually owned by one of these mega companies.
“Organic” has undergone a transformation from a movement to a $20 billion a year industry in the. This project explores the changes in ownership and control that have accompanied the implementation of a federal organic standard. The transition began in the late 1990s, as the US Department of Agriculture moved to replace an existing “patchwork” of differing state/regional standards. Some of these changes are well-hidden, as few companies that have acquired organic brands make these ownership ties apparent on product labels. At least sixteen major organic brands have resisted enormous buyout offers, and remained independent. The overall trend, however, is increasing industry domination by large, transnational corporations.
Organic food has its origins in a movement to create a more sustainable food and agricultural system, which grew rapidly in the 1970s. Farmers and their allies eventually developed state and regional standards to certify that foods labeled as organic were actually grown according to the practices that they followed. By the 1990s these standards differed slightly from certifier to certifier. The development of the USDA National Organic Standard in place of this “patchwork” was widely predicted to accelerate trends of increasing corporate involvement in this sector. The first draft of the national standard was released in 1997; this project explores changes in ownership and control have since occurred.
Over the past decade many small organic food brands have been snapped up by giant corporations. Clearly, this can be bad for standards and quality.
Who owns your favorite organic food label? Think most organic products and companies are independent- think again. Odwalla = Coca-Cola; Green and Blacks Chocolate = Cadbury; Cascadian Farms = General Mills. The list goes on and on. In fact, if you see it at a chain grocery store, your favorite organic or natural foods product is probably owned by a big corporation.
It’s no secret that there’s been consolidation in the organic and natural foods industry over the past decade or so. And clearly, consolidation can be bad for standards and quality.
These Who Owns Organics? charts have been passed around The Internet for years. Most people are shocked the first time they see them (Hershey’s owns Dagoba?).
Organics have always been big money, even in a recession. This attracts well-capitalized companies who want to invest, and who can blame them?
Mega packaged food companies and investor groups buy successful organic brands that were started by visionaries who began the companies with a commitment to the organic ideal of family farms, a clean environment, and simple food without additives. But often, when the big companies buy in, this ideal flies out the window.
I’ve chosen ten of the more prominent organic and natural brands to survey. I’m comparing the stories they tell their customers to the likely (and often proven) reality, based on who owns them.
I purposely put all of the prominent, still-independent brands in this list because I want to tell their stories. But this isn’t a story about small vs. big, small being good and big being bad.
All the independents listed below are big companies, but they have the ability to uphold higher standards and work within their missions because they aren’t beholden to the intense scrutiny of the money managers.
Just for fun, can you guess which ones they are?
Amy’s Kitchen is the real deal. Named after the actual daughter of the company’s founders, Amy’s mission was to create a line of vegetarian food products for busy families that would be healthier than typical convenience, frozen, and packaged foods. Started in Petaluma, Ca., the company remains an independent, family-run business to this day and Amy herself blogs about her life as a college student (including her organic agriculture classes at Stanford). The company headquarters is still in Petaluma where the founders live. All Amy’s foods are vegetarian, but not all are organic. I get a kick out of looking at the old photos of the early days on the company website. I try to cook everything from scratch, but if I’m going to eat a frozen meal, make mine Amy’s!
Harvard Study Links Pesticide-Laced Corn Syrup to Bee Colony Collapse
The decline of the bee population over the last few years has been blamed on many causes, but a recent Harvard University study gives “convincing evidence” that pesticide-laced corn syrup may be the cause of colony collapse. The study shows that odd behaviors such as abandoning hives, disorientation and confusion could be the direct result of farmers feeding their bees high-fructose corn syrup, which was not an issue until U.S. corn crops started to be sprayed with the pesticide imidacloprid eight years ago. Scarily, the first outbreak of Colony Collapse Disorder occurred just a year afterwards.
Lethal doses of the neonicotinoid family of pesticides (which imidacloprid belongs to) are not the cause of death for bees. Instead, little by little, the bees are poisoned, which gradually deteriorates their fragile nervous and immune systems. This leaves the bees susceptible to parasitic diseases and other sicknesses.
The Harvard University study, which will be published in the Bulletin of Insectology this June, also found that the exposure to neonicontinoids creates the effect of colony collapse, which can confuse bee instincts. Some examples include the production of fewer queen bees and male bees not returning to their hives in winter, both are which completely destructive to the breeding process.
Neonicontinoids are widely used chemicals in pesticides, first used as a pesticide alternative as it has been deemed “safe” for humans, without information on its effect on the bee population. The US Environmental Protection Agency will continue Harvard University’s study, and examine whether the chemical is the true cause of colony collapse, and if it should therefore be banned.
Via The Scientist
3 Reasons Pesticides Are Making Teachers’ Jobs Harder
Today's teachers are dealing with student problems that were unheard of half a century ago, creating unique challenges for educators and students alike. Scientists and leading doctors are increasingly linking environmental chemicals, including many pesticides, to lower performance levels in school. Here are three ways pesticides and kids don't mix.
Loss of Motor Skills
A new study published in the journal NeuroToxicology found strong evidence that a pregnant mother's pesticide exposure could lead to significant damage to a child's motor skills years down the road. In the study, scientists compared prenatal pesticide exposure using mothers' hair, blood, and cord blood samples, along with samples from newborns' hair and meconium, a baby's first bowel movement. (Meconium starts forming during the last months of pregnancy, giving researchers several months of prenatal pesticide exposure data.)
As it turns out, a pregnant mother's exposure to Propoxur—a common bug-killing carbamate pesticide—was linked to significantly poorer motor development in her child by the time the child turned 2 years old. Motor skills are those that shape the ability to perform complex muscle and nerve interactions that produce movement, ranging from writing and tying shoes to using a scissors and writing on a chalkboard. Carbamate chemicals are used to kill bugs in the home and in agricultural fields; the pesticide works by affecting the bugs' brain and nervous systems. It's believed that those same kinds of neurological disruptions are what's harming the children as they develop.
Brain-Draining Pest Killers
A new report looking at environmental chemicals and IQ found that children exposed to organophosphate pesticides, a popular type of chemical used to kill bugs in fruit and vegetable farming, suffer lower IQs. Looking at 25 million children ages 5 and younger, the analysis found that exposure to these pesticides accounts for a collective 17 million lost IQ points. This loss of productivity affects the economy over the long-term and stresses schools and healthcare systems, according to experts.
Vanishing Attention Spans
Diagnosed ADHD cases in kids have been on the rise, with increases between 3 and 5 percent reported annually over the last decade. Mounting studies suggest pesticides are partly to blame. For instance, a 2010 study published in the journal Pediatrics found that children with higher urine levels of neurotoxic organophosphate pesticides were twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. Diet is generally the biggest source of pesticide exposure in kids, but a primarily organic diet can slash pesticide levels in the body by about 90 percent, according to pediatrician Phil Landrigan, MD, professor and chair of preventive medicine at Mount Sinai Medical School in New York.
U.S. Organic Industry Praises U.S.-EU Partnership in Organic Trade
WASHINGTON, Feb. 15, 2012–Earlier today, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced that the United States and the European Union formed a partnership that will recognize the two organic programs as equivalent and allow access to each other's markets. Formal letters creating this partnership were signed earlier today in Nuremberg, Germany, by Merrigan; Dacian Cioloş, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development; and Ambassador Isi Siddiqui, U.S. Trade Representative Chief Agricultural Negotiator. The signing took place at the BioFach World Organic Fair, the largest trade show for organic products in the world.
Under President Obama, USDA has continued to expand markets for American goods abroad, worked aggressively to break down barriers to trade, and assisted U.S. businesses with the resources needed to reach consumers around the world. Together, the U.S. and EU organic markets are valued at more than $50 billion. Under this agreement, estimates show the market for U.S. organics sales to the EU could grow substantially within the first few years. In 2010, the U.S. organic market grew nearly 8 percent to nearly $28.6 billion. And USDA has worked to promote international organic trade. Organic exports reached approximately $1.8 billion in 2010, and that number is expected to grow 8 percent annually over the next several years. Today, more than two-thirds of U.S. consumers buy organic products at least occasionally, and 28 percent buy organic products weekly.
Representatives from the U.S. organic industry—including trade associations and organic producers—praised the U.S.-EU partnership.
Senator Patrick Leahy, United States Senator (Vt.)
"I commend the Department of Agriculture for reaching this important agreement with the European Union, one of our largest trading partners. Since I wrote the organic standards and labeling law in 1990, organic production has become a vital component of Vermont's agriculture and the fastest growing sector of U.S. agriculture. Demand for organic products is growing even faster in Europe, at 10 to 15 percent per year despite the recession. By expanding our farmers' opportunities to sell their organic products overseas, we are expanding the job opportunities and economic growth for organic agriculture in this country. This industry has come so far in the last 22 years, and reaching this new milestone will open doors to even more economic opportunities for our organic farmers and processors."
Matt Mclean, Organic Trade Association's Board President and President of Uncle Matt's Organic-Florida citrus grower and marketer
"This is truly a great day of celebration for U.S. producers of organic products. This monumental agreement opens new possibilities for our farmers, and expands the value of their crops. The EU market will beckon more U.S. producers who have the capacity to produce organic products for export. At the same time, the agreement will make it easier for U.S. manufacturers to obtain ingredients that they need to import from the EU.
Lynn Clarkson, President of Clarkson Grain Co. Inc.
"This is welcome news for the U.S. organic grain industry, which will see its products more easily traded and welcomed in the burgeoning EU market. Organic grains are a vital part of organic offerings, and crucial to global trade."
Jake Lewin, Chief Certification Officer, California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF)
"Eliminating the distraction of multi-standard organic certification will strengthen the application of organic standards nationwide. As a result of this agreement, we expect that more than 800 CCOF farmers and processors will see a reduction in their overall fees and complexity of certification. I cannot wait to tell this to our farming and processing clients who have been managing multiple certification programs for years. These dedicated individuals can now turn their attention to managing their operations and producing more organic goods instead of chasing paperwork for overlapping standards. "
Cathy Calfo, Executive Director, California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF)
"This agreement is vital to specialty crop growers, who number more than 2,000 in California alone. These producers will be able to expand sales in a vibrant European Union market, inspiring growth in a sector that is already creating jobs and economic opportunity. Organic is the sole U.S. agricultural sector that is realizing growth in sales and jobs, according to 2011 reports.
Matthew Holmes, World Board Member, International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and Ambassador under the Global Organic Market Access project
"We are very pleased today to see this achievement of organic equivalency between the United States and European Union. This is a major milestone in efforts to further harmonize and facilitate the trade of organic products globally. With the world's major organic systems working together, the impact on agriculture will be as profound as the potential for trade is massive."
Gary Hirshberg, Co-Founder and Chair, Stonyfield Farm; Advisory Member, Advisory Committee for Trade Policy & Negotiations ( ACTPN)
"This agreement is good for trade, but more importantly it's a win for American farmers and consumers. It's a win for farmers because it opens up new markets, and a win for consumers because it upholds Americans' high expectations for the integrity of the organic standard, including a provision that will ensure that any dairy or meat that is exported from the EU to the US can't be treated with antibiotics."
George Siemon, C-E-I-E-I-O and founding farmer, Organic Valley Cooperative
"This is an historic agreement toward building the organic movement and industry. Organic Valley as a farmer-owned cooperative continues to support the hard work of USDA to standardize and protect the organic program. Equivalency will expand and enable the organic farming movement on both continents."
Travis Forgues, Organic Valley farmer in Vermont
"As an organic dairy farmer, I am heartened by news of the EU-U.S organic equivalency. Organic standards have long been something we have shared with Europe, and exports can help more U.S. farmers stay farming the land."
Jenny Lester Moffitt, Sales and Marketing for Dixon Ridge Farms
"We increasingly live in a global economy. Any time countries can collaborate to eliminate or reduce trade barriers, the market is strengthened. This agreement will allow our company to expand our market for organic walnuts, and increase organic production here in the United States."
Andy Berliner, founder of Amy's Kitchen
"All of us at Amy's Kitchen truly welcome this news. We are especially encouraged that the larger shared values and practices relative to organic and sustainable food production between us are no longer overshadowed by minor, technical differences. This new understanding now facilitates an unimpeded flow of Amy's products into the European market, creating jobs in both our U.S. and UK production facilities and making our organic offerings available to the many EU consumers who are seeking a higher-quality organic vegetarian meal option."
Christine Bushway, Executive Director and CEO of the Organic Trade Association
"This long-awaited agreement is a momentous step toward growing organic trade between the world's two largest consumer markets for organic food. It will mean more open avenues for organic producers, and will encourage U.S. farmers to expand their acreage to produce more environmentally sustainable crops."
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