Family farm versus corporate farm. Image via: Chumlee10 on Flickr.com
Did you know quite a few, if not most, of organic food companies these days are actually owned by major labels that you stopped supporting years ago? Is that really a problem, since it means that organic is available just about everywhere these days, or does it mean the movement has lost part of its soul? New article by the Reading Eagle delves into the issue.Michael Potter, owner of Eden Foods Inc, in a recent interview with Reading Eagle, said that he gets offers several times a week these days to sell his company. While he has stuck to his guns thus far, many people mock him for not cashing out in what is now a multi-billion dollar industry.
The big guys are smart these days- even though they buy an organic company, no where on the new product will you see the corporate logo or label. If they were proud of their organic branch, wouldn't they want to market themselves as a feel good company? Or do they not want consumers to know that their favorite brand sold out (sometimes years ago). Dean Foods, Kraft, Conagra, General Mills and even Coca-Cola are now on the organic bandwagon. When corporations are asked about their organic label and how they can justify using ingredients from halfway around the world, or using a larger portion of non-organic ingredients in the mix, oftentimes the answer is "No Comment."
So why doesn't Potter sell off his business and retire in Fiji or paradise? According to him, organic is more than just not using pesticides. Organic to him is about sustainability, keeping things "small, alternative and individualistic" and keeping a tight reign on product quality. Selling the company would mean allowing customers to think they are still getting the same quality product with no control of what happens. If large corporations put boxes of their organic foods on every shelf in every grocery store, is that still sustainable?
Seems like it's getting harder and harder for organic to be such a feel-good industry. Just walking into a health food store no longer means you can let your guard down and buy food willy-nilly. Now instead of memorizing which seafood is safe, or which ingredients spell toxic doom, consumers will have to memorize a list of organic labels that they want to avoid. Now, just because a label is owned by a major corporation does not inherently mean it is bad. But, if a consumer objects to the social and ethical practices of said larger label, then they might want to know when they are still supporting them, despite the lack of labeling. :Reading Eagle :Eden Foods
More on Corporate Ownership of Organic Labels
US Consumers Prefer "100% Natural" Food Label
98% of Green-Labeled Products are Actually Greenwashed
Organic Watchdog Group Takes on Aurora Dairy, USDA
Who is Behind Your Green Snack?
When is a Sell-Out a Sell-Out?
Colgate-Palmolive Co. Buying Tom's of Maine