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The Takeover of Organics...

Discussion in 'Area Restaurants, Dining and Food' started by KTdid, Feb 13, 2014.

  1. KTdid

    KTdid Well-Known Member

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    Who Owns Organic Now? New Info Graphic Tracks the Corporate Takeover of Organics…

    February 13th, 2014
    Prominent Info Graphic Decoding Corporate Ownership in Organics Updated

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    Click on the image above for a larger, hi-res version

    In 1995 there were 81 independent organic processing companies in the United States. A decade later, Big Food had gobbled up all but 15 of them.

    Corporate consolidation of the food system has been largely hidden from consumers. That’s changing, thanks to tools such as Philip H. Howard’s widely circulated “Who Owns Organic?” infographic. Originally published in 2003, the chart provides a snapshot of the structure of the organic industry, showing the acquisitions and alliances of the top 100 food processors in North America. The chart empowers consumers to see at a glance which companies dominate the organic marketplace.

    The Cornucopia Institute has been proud to feature Dr. Howard’s work and help supply information helping the Michigan State University researcher keep abreast of the shifting ownership environment in the organic industry.

    Dr. Howard released an update of the chart on February 13. It is posted prominently on the right-hand margin at www.cornucopia.org.

    Major changes since the last version (May 2013) include WhiteWave’s December 2013 acquisition of Earthbound Farm, the nation’s largest organic produce supplier, for $600 million, said Howard, an associate professor in the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State. Additionally, Coca-Cola acquired a 10% stake in Green Mountain Coffee for $1.25 billion, and Bimbo Bakeries (Mexico) purchased Canada Bread from Maple Leaf Foods (Canada) for $1.7 billion.

    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. 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’ right to know what is in their food.

    “Consumers who want food companies that embody more of the original organic ideals would do well to seek out products from independent organic firms,” Howard advises. “Given the very uneven playing field they are competing in, independent organic processors are unlikely to survive without such support.”

    Tools such as Howard’s infographic and The Cornucopia Institute’s scorecards rating organic brands of dairy, eggs, soy foods and breakfast cereals empower consumers to make those choices. The updated chart and scorecards are available for download at www.cornucopia.org.

    Howard has created additional infographics and network animations on the wine, beer, soft drink, coffee and seed industries, as well as on foodborne illnesses and the structure of the food system (www.msu.edu/~howardp/index.html).

    http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/02/o...o-graphic-tracks-corporate-takeover-organics/
     
  2. J Williams

    J Williams New Member

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    This has been an issue for a long time. I recommend reading The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollen (published in the mid-noughties). He takes a look at this from all sides and I think he tries to be fair. A lot of small farmers are not even trying for the "organic" title anymore because it has changed so much and it is so expensive to maintain. Certifications in general can be expensive.

    My wife and I try to buy from farmers markets and join a CSA during the growing season. That way you know more about the farm you are buying from, you know the products are produced locally and are more likely to be fresh, and it helps keep money in the regional market. However, it does tend to be more expensive. Full disclosure: you will also frequently find us in Lotte and Wegman's .
     
  3. KTdid

    KTdid Well-Known Member

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    Yes, this is an update to one I previously posted. For me, the takeaway is that many of these large corporations (members of GMA), are against GE labeling and invest and lobby against it. They are buying successful organic brands that were started by visionaries who's commitment to the organic ideal was simple foods (non-gmo), foods void of additives, a clean environment and sustainable farming practices. When these mega-corps buy-in the organic philosophy is abandoned.
     
  4. GeauxTigers

    GeauxTigers Member

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    I think a bigger picture issue is the cost of food. In many other countries as well as not so long ago in the US, spending an average around 25% of one's income on food is/was the norm. Industrialization of the food supply has been successful in severely lowering the cost of food to the point where in the US we now spend something like only 5% of our income on average for food. Now we are used to this and balk at higher food prices. Society has grown dependent on the low price of this mass produced food and as a result we've become a sicker population. Sure modern medicine is good at keeping us alive for a long time, but in general we are not healthier. Those of us who recognize that the majority of food available is chock full of heavily processed ingredients, GMO ingredients, unneccessary ingredients (think toxic food color), chemical residue, antibiotics/hormones, etc and can afford (big "if', I know) to buy healthier options do so and we spend a lot more on food than most. The government has not been helpful here either. Thanks to heavy subsidies on crops like corn, it's actually cheaper for companies to produce things like heavily processed (toxic) high fructose corn syrup to use in place of more natural sugar, not that I am promoting sugar here as that's another huge topic. If you look at just about any packaged item at the grocer, corn or a corn product is in just about everything because it's been made artificially cheap. In any case back to my point that until society can accept that most of the highly processed toxic garbage we are eating should not even be considered food and that food in reality should cost a lot more, I don't see the concern by the original poster changing for the better.
     
  5. KTdid

    KTdid Well-Known Member

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    The very notion of 'organic' has existed for 60+ years but it is only within the last 30 years that the U.S. has recognized the term at a national level. I'm not sure when the term 'certified' organic came into use but when most people hear the word organic, cost if foremost on their mind.

    But cost aside, I believe consumers are becoming better educated about the current state of our food industry. The more we don't know about what is causing illness, allergies, asthma, obesity et al. the more answers we seek and it typically begins with our diets. Our food is being altered with synthetics and chemicals - that in itself should be alarming enough to promote change.
     

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