“Organic” processed foods could still be full of crap

What does organic on the label really mean?
What does organic on the label really mean?

This is why I generally stick to completely unprocessed foods. Highly processed “organic” foods are still likely to be chalk full of crap.The so-called health food industry does not care about us…they care about making money so they will do what they can to sucker us into buying all manner of additives and ingredients that are no good for us.

Two articles in the Washington Post today–the first here:

100 Percent Organic” products must show an ingredient list, the name and address of the handler (bottler, distributor, importer, manufacturer, packer, processor) of the finished product, and the name and seal of the organic certifier. These products should contain no chemicals, additives, synthetics, pesticides or genetically engineered substances.

“USDA Organic” products must contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients. The five percent non-organic ingredients could include additives or synthetics if they are on an approved list. The label must contain a list that identifies the organic, as well as the non-organic, ingredients in the product, and the name of the organic certifier. (read rest here)


And another here:

Three years ago, U.S. Department of Agriculture employees determined that synthetic additives in organic baby formula violated federal standards and should be banned from a product carrying the federal organic label. Today the same additives, purported to boost brainpower and vision, can be found in 90 percent of organic baby formula.

The government’s turnaround, from prohibition to permission, came after a USDA program manager was lobbied by the formula makers and overruled her staff. That decision and others by a handful of USDA employees, along with an advisory board’s approval of a growing list of non-organic ingredients, have helped numerous companies win a coveted green-and-white “USDA Organic” seal on an array of products.

Grated organic cheese, for example, contains wood starch to prevent clumping. Organic beer can be made from non-organic hops. Organic mock duck contains a synthetic ingredient that gives it an authentic, stringy texture.

Relaxation of the federal standards, and an explosion of consumer demand, have helped push the organics market into a $23 billion-a-year business, the fastest growing segment of the food industry. Half of the country’s adults say they buy organic food often or sometimes, according to a survey last year by the Harvard School of Public Health. (this is a long and detailed article you can read here)

And again, it’s really not hard to know what you’re eating if you just stick to stuff made primarily by nature. I’m also now in the process of finding local farms to buy as much as possible from farmers who I can talk to and see the animals and plants they raise. Granted not everyone lives somewhere that is possible but if you do it’s very wonderful.

We also now grow all our veggies for about 6 months out of the year.

20 thoughts on ““Organic” processed foods could still be full of crap

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  1. well…I usually have a friend bring me…but when Paul and I go you can come…I’ll call you…though I only last 20 minutes max (really more like 10)…but I don’t mind waiting in the car while you finish.

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  2. Sounds like you got it right. My earlier comment was what Dean did to screw the small organic farmers a couple years back, which allowed them to produce enough milk to sell through Walmart.

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  3. I will mention that Ingles store-brand milk is marked as being solely from cows who have not been fed bovine growth hormones, and while the giant agribusinesses forced them to put on the label that “there is no significant difference in the quality of the milk”, Ingles’ milk has been flying off the shelves. This must be Dean’s way of fighting back.

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  4. OK, that’s a whole new screwing by Dean Foods than the earlier one, and it sounds dangerous to small ranchers (again, as usual, what do you expect from giant agribusiness).

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  5. That isn’t QUITE accurate, but it’s close. Horizon is owned by Dean Foods, a large agribusiness. When the organic milk laws were passed, the small ranchers asked Congress to allow them to acquire cows who were NOT raised on organic ranches, so long as they converted them to organic feed and systems. To help these small ranchers, Congress said Sure. Unfortunately, the law they passed did not define “small ranchers”, so Dean/Horizon bought hundreds of thousands of cows for their “organic” dairy.

    However, they are still required to operate the dairies by organic principles. But you may be getting some leftover antibiotics…

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    1. hmm…let me see if I can find my organic newsletter because it clearly stated oranic farmers were being screwed…I’m sure I may have gotten facts a bit mixed up because I have a fried brain, but I DO know that organic farmers are getting short shrift.

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      1. okay, here’s the whole copy from the Organic Consumers Association…I admittedly did not read the whole thing because I can’t read shit lately. So tell me what it says.

        BOULDER, CO: A division of Dean Foods, the organic industry’s largest namebrand manufacturer, rocked the organic world this week when it was reported that the agribusiness giant intended to create an entirely new, lower-priced, product category, “natural dairy,” aimed squarely at pirating away organic customers. If successful Dean, the largest milk processor in the United States, will add to the pain many organic farmers are feeling due to slowing sales caused by the economic downturn.

        For the first time the Horizon namebrand will market products that are not certified organic. Horizon has had the highest dollar volume of any organic industry brand.

        Dean’s WhiteWave-Morningstar division, which controls the Horizon, Organic Cow, Silk, and other specialty brands and is based in Longmont, Colorado, has launched their “alternative to the organic label” at a time when sales in the industry have flattened after averaging 20% per year growth rates for more than a decade. Recent articles in the New York Times, Boston Globe, and the Associated Press have profiled falling prices and production caps now being placed on farms producing organic milk-with many of these family farmers now facing financial ruin.

        “This move by Dean Foods comes at a time when organic dairy farmers around the country are in financial crisis due to a glut of milk,” said Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst at The Cornucopia Institute. “Responsible participants in this industry are using their marketing strength to ramp up organic demand. Dean has instead chosen to profiteer at the expense of the hard-working family farmers who have built this industry.”

        This move comes on the heels of the recent decision by Dean/WhiteWave to switch almost the entire product offerings of their Silk soymilk line to “natural” (conventional) soybeans. Many consumers and retailers have expressed outrage when the switch to conventional soybeans was quietly made in Silk products without lowering the price. Industry critics have referred to the move as “sheer profiteering.”

        “They are handling the introduction of natural products under the Horizon label a little bit differently than they handled their switch to conventional soybeans sourcing in Silk,” Kastel stated. “With their soy products the appearance of their packaging and UPC product codes remained the same.”

        Many retailers and consumers around the country, who had been longtime loyal customers, were outraged to find that their favorite organic brand had been switched to conventional, somewhat clandestinely. This has caused some retailers to now drop the Silk products.

        Sara Loveday, a marketing communications manager at WhiteWave told the Natural Foods Merchandiser, an industry trade publication: “We’ve only been organic in the past and the majority of our business will remain organic. These are our first natural offerings in the marketplace, and Horizon always tries to provide great-tasting products for moms and for families.”

        The Dean/WhiteWave spokesperson continued by saying the natural Horizon products would be “easier on the pocketbook.”

        “Many consumers do not understand green terminology,” said Suzanne Shelton, whose firm, the Shelton Group, just released a national survey examining consumer perception about food labeling. “They prefer the word ‘natural’ over the term ‘organic,’ thinking organic is more of an unregulated marketing buzzword that means the product is more expensive. In reality, the opposite is true: ‘Natural’ is the unregulated word. Organic foods must meet government standards to be certified as such,” Shelton concluded.

        “It is apparent to us that moves toward “natural” dairy products offerings will have a negative impact on the organic category,” said Jack Lazor a certified organic dairy farmer from Westfield, Vermont. “It is now more important than ever that consumers of organic dairy products understand the benefits of organic foods and farming. We need to cultivate meaningful relationships with our customers so that we can cut through the veil of corporate greed where natural is easily mistaken for organic.”

        Lazor and his wife, Anne, widely respected as one of the first organic dairy farmers in the United States, founded Butterworks Yogurt in 1984, a leading organic brand in the Northeast.

        Organic food has grown from a small niche to a successful $24 billion market category fueled by consumers desire for a safer and more nutritious food supply.

        “When the first Horizon natural products are introduced-a yogurt aimed at children and single-serve milk-they will promote them as being without growth hormones. But Dean Foods will not be able to mention that the products are produced without pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and other drugs, and genetically modified feed crops, or that the cows are required to graze in pastures rather than confined to factory farm feedlots. These are all factors that truly differentiate organic production from natural/conventional agricultural and livestock production,” explained Kastel.

        In a letter today to Dean Foods’ chairman Greg Engel, The Cornucopia Institute, widely recognized as the nation’s preeminent organic farming industry watchdog, suggested that in order to preserve the integrity and shareholder value in two of the nation’s leading organic brands, Horizon and Silk, that the corporation reconsider its new tactical direction. It questioned why a company, after substantial investments, would want to alienate a market demographic that has proven, over the years, to be highly dedicated and passionate.

        “Dean Foods has just declared war on the organic industry. Although the first shot has been fired it will not be the last,” Kastel lamented. We hope they will reevaluate this ill-advised product launch.”

        – 30 –

        MORE:

        In addition to reformulating the previously exclusive domestic organic brands Horizon and Silk, Dean Foods also “converted” the UK’s leading organic dairy brand to conventional milk when introducing the product line to United States consumers. “In England the Rachel’s organic brand is widely respected as a pioneer in the industry. When they launched Rachel’s yogurt in the United States they did so exclusively utilizing conventional milk,” stated Kastel.

        Both Dean Foods CEO, Greg Engels, and the chief executive officer of their WhiteWave-Morningstar division, Joe Scalzo, had both referred to their company as a “consumer packaged goods” marketer. At one point Engels said that only 3% of their dairy sales were organic. Dean Foods controls 50 different dairy brands in the country, Horizon and Organic Cow are their two organic offerings.

        Scalzo, who had no dairy or organic industry background when he was hired to run WhiteWave, was previously a high-ranking executive with Gillette and Procter & Gamble.

        Additional quotes from Cornucopia’s Kastel: “Many of Dean’s competitors in this industry, including the second-largest organic marketer, Organic Valley, a farmer-owned cooperative, are exclusively organic. Like their farmers, they will live or die by the value and reputation the organic label holds with consumers. Dean Foods can afford this dangerous experiment. If it fails, they can just walk away. But how many competitors and lives of farmers might they destroy in the process?”

        Due to the generous support of one of its prime funders, the Jesse Noyes Smith Foundation, The Cornucopia Institute is a shareholder of Dean Foods in good standing and has, over the years, engaged in shareholder activism, within the democratic process, at the investor-owned corporation.

        The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based nonprofit farm policy research group, is dedicated to the fight for economic justice for the family-scale farming community. Their Organic Integrity Project acts as a corporate and governmental watchdog assuring that no compromises to the credibility of organic farming methods and the food it produces are made in the pursuit of profit. The majority of its funding comes from individual members, mostly family-scale organic farmers.

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  6. on that note Horizon Organic Dairy products are selling out big time…

    they are introducing “natural” milk which is in fact “conventional” milk but they will keep the price tag high like their organic milk knowing that people will think it’s organic because Horizon is thought to be an organic company…

    this in turn may decimate the organic milk industry as Horizon has been the largest distributor.

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  7. Right, Gianna. The big corporate growers lobbied like hell to get many things accepted that should never be in food and still have their products labeled “Organic”. Know your farmer — if he’s a corporation, he’s cheating. Not being paranoid, just generalizing from known facts.

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  8. As the first Washington Post article points out, organic has a very specific, highly regulated meaning. Whether they are raw or processed, products bearing the organic label must comply with federal regulations for production and handling. These regulations prohibit the use of toxic and persistent pesticides, antibiotics, synthetic hormones, and genetic engineering, among other things, and specifically outline what can – and cannot- be identified as organic. In doing so, the regulations offer consumers both a clear definition in which they can trust and assurance that the organic products they buy and consume are produced and processed in a manner that maintains product integrity that begins on the farm.

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    1. uh, the point of this article is you CAN’T trust what is on the label…but you are apparently working for the those who would have us believe everything we read.

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  9. You’re lucky that you have growers in your area that understand what organic means. These bumpkins in these parts don’t seem to have a clue what it is and don’t care about non-GMO produce, non-GMO being one of the requirements for USDA organic certification.

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  10. Well, using a large corporation to provide the food, thus providing free advertising for the large corporation, and placing a large advertising banner on the website… at LEAST gives the appearance of selling out. I’m being itchy about it. Keep telling me it’s all right and I might start believing it, LOL.

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    1. well, why don’t you use small local farms…there are tons of farms around here and I actually am connected with some of the organizers of sustainable farming in the area…would you like me to make some calls…

      or is this all organized already??

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  11. Well, still, organic mock duck? This is as far from a natural thing as could be, hard to imagine it NOT containing weird things. If I found chemicals on my organic lettuce, that would be worth bitching about.

    I’m a bit sensitive to this — Asheville Homeless Network is in the final negotiation stages to bring organic produce to Asheville at the same price as regular produce, with there still being a good profit and large donation to AHN plus developing a lunch program for homeless children during the summer (when they are not getting school lunches). I’m really scared of turning into, or appearing to turn into, a sell-out.

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