Friday, June 12, 2009

Who Owns Organic, anyway?

Do you purchase packaged or processed organic foods? I have my packaged foods down to a minimum, but I still do purchase some. I read labels very carefully. I avoid organic versions of things from mega-corporations like Del Monte and Kellogg's because I really don't support the monolithic philosophy. These companies historically have not adhered to a green standard of doing business, and I, personally, question their processing methods. I believe them to value profit over the true needs of the consumer. But, who owns my organic packaged food?
Well, Kellogg's owns Kashi. Have I purchased Kashi? Yes, but not recently. Did I know who owned Kashi? No. Will I avoid Kashi in the future? Probably.

I found a wonderful website by Phil Howard, PhD, an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University. He has made up many charts and graphs like the one above that illustrate who owns what companies, and tracking graphs of foodborne illness outbreacks.

Now, let's take it even further.

According to regarding food mergers...
  1. The following are owned by Hain Celestial Food Group:Hain Pure Foods, Westbrae Natural, Westsoy, Breadshop's, Casbah, Garden of Eatin', Terra Chips, Yves Veggie Cuisine, DeBoles, Earth's Best, Nile Spice, Jason Cosmetics.
  2. H. J. Heinz Co. owns 20% of Hain Celestial Food Group.
  3. Odwalla and Fresh Samantha juice are owned by Coca-Cola.
  4. Kraft owns Boca. Phillip Morris owns Kraft. That means no Boca burgers for me.
  5. Natural Touch is now Morning Star Farms Natural Touch, and Morning Star Farms is owned by Kellogg. These products say "made with organic soy" but do not say 100% organic, so it is likely that they use GMO soy also.
  6. White Wave and Horizon Organic are owned by Dean Foods.
  7. Arrowhead water and Poland Spring water are owned by Nestle.
  8. Seeds of change is owned by M&M Mars. That IS a change!
  9. Lightlife is owned by ConAgra, a megagiant, if not the largest food company in the U.S.
  10. Knudsen, After the Fall, and Santa Cruz Organics are owned by Smuckers.
  11. Cascadian Farms and Muir Glen are owned by Small Planet Foods, which is owned by General Mills. My cereal comes from Cascadian Farms, and my tomato sauce is from Muir Glen. I am going to have to rethink these purchases.
I don't know about you, but I need Phil Howard, PhD and his charts to keep this all straight for me. I think I need a chart to carry to the grocery store! To my knowledge, the FDA does not require labeling of the name of a parent company on product packaging because the agency perhaps assumes (or hopes) we consumers don't want to know. Moreover, according to Phil Howard, PhD, at least one company has said consumers don't care. But this fails to realize that those of us following a path to greener, healthier, more aware lifestyles WANT and NEED to know where our food originates and what companies we are supporting with our consumer dollars.

All the more reason for me to give up any packaged goods
and shop at the farmers market and local farms.



Deb G said...

I've pretty much given up on buying those types of products unless I know they are a small local producer (bread and crackers, a local salsa, a local sauerkraut maker, a few other things).

The one consideration that I think about is that by buying organic products from the larger companies we are showing those companies that is what we value and what they should invest in. So I do occasionally buy chocolate. Green and Black is owned by one of those big companies....

Pricilla said...

While I also don't buy much in the packaged milieu this is somewhat disheartening. Thanks for the info and links.

nikid said...

Thanks for that post - I did not know about some of those parent companies. I have been a Muir Glen fan, but like you - I am going to have to change that.

Thank goodness for my CSA and local farmer's market!