July 11th, 2009

Губка Боб

How Industry Giants are Undermining the Organic Movement

 The Organic Monopoly and the Myth of "Natural" Foods


After four decades of hard work, the organic community has built up a $25 billion “certified organic” food, farming, and green products sector. This consumer-driven movement, under steady attack by the biotech and Big Food lobby, with little or no help from government, has managed to create a healthy and sustainable alternative to America’s disastrous, chemical and energy-intensive system of industrial agriculture. Conscious of the health hazards of Big Food Inc., and the mortal threat of climate change and Peak Oil, a critical mass of organic consumers are now demanding food and other products that are certified organic, as well as locally or regionally produced, minimally processed, and packaged.

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The unfortunate consequence of all this is that it’s very difficult for an independently-owned grocer or a coop trying to sell mostly organic products to compete with, or even survive in the same market as WFM, given the natural products “Sweetheart Deal” between UNFI and WFM. As a consequence more and more independentlyowned “natural” grocery stores and coops are emulating the WFM model, while a number of brand name, formerly organic, companies are moving away from organic ingredients (Silk soy milk, Horizon, Hain, and Peace Cereal for example) or organic practices (the infamous intensive confinement dairy feedlots of Horizon and Aurora) altogether, while maintaining a misleading green profile in the UNFI/WFM marketplace. Other companies, in the multi-billion dollar body care sector for example, are simply labeling their conventional/natural products as “organic” or trade-marking the word “organic” or “organics” as part of their brand name.

The bottom line is that we must put our money and our principles where our values lie. Buy Certified Organic, not so-called natural products, today and everyday. And tell your retail grocer or coop how you feel. Please join thousands of other Organic Consumers and send a message to Whole Foods and UNFI today.

Ronnie Cummins is director of the Organic Consumers Alliance. He can be reached at: ronnie@organicconsumers.org.