Is Your Organic Food Really Organic?

. . . big business invades the health food market

Certain packaged foods that were once organic are now conventional, but they’re still being marketed as organic!

The Cornucopia Institute, a nonprofit committed to protecting small farmers and the health-minded public, discovered that although Whitewave/Silk Soymilk, now owned by dairy giant Dean Foods, was no longer organic, its barcode had never been changed by the manufacturer, so it was being placed on shelves along with organic products. A similar problem was discovered with products from Golden Temple, a division of Hearthside Food Solutions; cereals and granola packaged under their Peace Cereal brand haven’t been organic for 3 years, but the barcode was never changed to reflect that, so retailers (rightly) assumed they were organic and featured them as such.

One of the problems is that the organics industry is booming. While total food sales grew by less than 1% in 2010, the Organic Trade Association annual survey found that the organic sector grew by almost 8%, with almost $29 billion in sales. In the past, businesses involved in organics were predominantly driven by a commitment to a healthier and more environmentally friendly food supply. But this is no longer the case. Coca-Cola has bought Odwalla (fruit juice); General Mills now owns Cascadian Farm and Muir Glen; Philip Morris/Kraft Foods owns Back to Nature and Boca Foods; and Heinz is now the parent company for Hain, Westbrae, Celestial Seasonings, Imagine/Rice Dream, Walnut Acres and Health Valley.

While Cornucopia has filed a complaint with the National Organic Standards Board, this is a good reminder that trusted names in organic food may no longer deserve your trust. When it comes right down to it, processed food, whether it’s organic or conventional, is never an optimal choice.

The Cornucopia Institute Newsletter, Summer 2011.   

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