For those of you still under the assumption that your Horizon organic milk, your Kashi crackers or your Green and Black’s chocolate was being churned out by a small farm or mom-and-pop shop nestled in a pristine valley, brace yourself for disappointment.
The reality is that many of your favorite organic products are owned and operated by the same corporations that make the worst kinds of highly processed junk foods on the market — soda, potato chips, sugary cereals, candy, etc.
Unfortunately, when multinational corporations create or purchase these natural health companies, they are looking to maximize their profits by turning out the largest amount of product for the least expense. And, that frequently means sacrificing some ethics and skimping on quality.
And what you, the consumer, are left with is the misguided impression that you’re spending your hard-earned money on a product that adheres to a certain set of values, which have likely long since perished in the wake of corporate strategies.
The Power of an Idea
On the positive side, this trend is a clear sign that when you speak with your pocketbook and start demanding healthier food choices, America’s largest corporations have no practical economic choice but to respond.
With the involvement of large corporations, organic food has turned into a $16-billion business, with sales growing by as much as 20 percent per year. What this means for much of America is access to more organic foods at lower prices – which is a great thing.
Companies, eager to gain market share in the natural foods movement have begun acquiring and mass-producing “organic” foods which has resulted in a slow but noticeable deterioration of the meaning and health benefits upon which the organic label was founded.
So whereas many people are now getting the core message that organic is far healthier for you, they don’t stop long enough to make a distinction between raw organic food and processed food that contains organic ingredients. It’s important to realize that organic versions of junk food are STILL just as detrimental to your health as their original counterparts.
Additionally, a significant element of the organic ideal is environmental sustainability and protection, but at least one study has found that the transportation of organic produce causes an environmental impact large enough to cancel out any of its environmental benefits.
Who Owns Your Favorite Organic Brand?
Phil Howard, an assistant professor of Community, Agriculture, and Recreation and Resource studies at Michigan State University, put together this revealing chart, which shows the significant acquisitions and introductions of organic brands by major food corporations, as of January 2008.
The unfortunate result of all this big business wheeling and dealing in organics, and acquiring small but popular organic brands is that you now have to be very wary when you see the term “organic,” as it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s any better for either you or the environment.
There’s Something Even Better Than Organic
Personally, I’m not surprised at this development; it was bound to happen. Food companies, as any other primarily profit-driven company, would not let a swelling market niche go untapped.
That doesn’t mean you have to buy into the hype, however. You still have the power to demand the real deal, and the fact of the matter is; true organic IS better. Both for you and for the environment.
It’s mainly a matter of knowing where to find locally harvested organic foods and buying from sources you want to see thrive. You also want to read the packaged food labels and not simply take the organic label at face value. It’s sad to say but the organic label has become virtually meaningless as a sign of quality.
Depending on where you live, finding a local farmer or food coop may seem unrealistic, but just as demand drove the rise of organic, it is driving the demand for locally grown foods. You can peruse this list of sustainable agriculture options to find like-minded people in your area who will know how you can connect with local food producers.
Also be sure to take advantage of farmer’s markets and roadside stands now as spring and summer approaches.
New York Times bestselling author Dr. Mercola graduated from the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1982. And while osteopaths or D.O.s are licensed to prescribe medication and perform surgery just like medical doctors (M.D.s), they bring something extra to the practice of medicine.
Osteopathic physicians practice a "whole person" approach to medicine, treating the entire person — rather than just the symptoms. Focusing on preventive health care, D.O.s help patients develop attitudes and lifestyles that don't just fight illness, but help prevent it too.
Dr. Mercola is passionate about natural medicine and strongly believes that the current medical system is largely manipulated and controlled by large corporations whose primary focus is profit. His website, Mercola.com, which started as a small hobby interest in 1997, has now grown to today’s number one natural health website educating and empowering millions to take back the control over their own health.
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