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Organic Consumers Association

Organic Food Purists Worry About Big Companies Influence

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's All About Organics page and our Safeguard Organic Standards page.

Call to Action from the OCA: When it comes to food purchased at the grocery store, there's no better alternative to USDA Organic, but, as this important article explains, the National Organic Standards Board is dominated by corporate interests. While the NOSB rarely moves to tighten organic standards, it consistently approves petitions from industry to add new synthetics to the national list of non-organic ingredients allowed in certified organic products. Please take action on the following issues...
TAKE ACTION: Tell Organic Brands to Stop Using Carrageenan!
TAKE ACTION: Get Genetically Engineered Vaccines Out of Organic!
TAKE ACTION: Tell Organic Baby Food Brands to Stop Using GMOs!
TAKE ACTION: Stop Factory Farming of "Organic" Poultry & Eggs!
TAKE ACTION: Get Non-Organic Intestines Out of "USDA Organic" Sausage!
TAKE ACTION: NOSB to USDA: Keep Nanotechnology Out of Organic!
TAKE ACTION: Stop Organic Fraud in the Health & Beauty Aisle!
Michael J. Potter is one of the last little big men left in organic food.

More than 40 years ago, Mr. Potter bought into a hippie cafe and "whole earth" grocery here that has since morphed into a major organic foods producer and wholesaler, Eden Foods.

But one morning last May, he hopped on his motorcycle and took off across the Plains to challenge what organic food - or as he might have it, so-called organic food - has become since his tie-dye days in the Haight district of San Francisco.

The fact is, organic food has become a wildly lucrative business for Big Food and a premium-price-means-premium-profit section of the grocery store. The industry's image - contented cows grazing on the green hills of family-owned farms - is mostly pure fantasy. Or rather, pure marketing. Big Food, it turns out, has spawned what might be called Big Organic. 

Bear Naked, Wholesome & Hearty, Kashi: all three and more actually belong to the cereals giant Kellogg. Naked Juice? That would be PepsiCo, of Pepsi and Fritos fame. And behind the pastoral-sounding Walnut Acres, Healthy Valley and Spectrum Organics is none other than Hain Celestial, once affiliated with Heinz, the grand old name in ketchup.  

Over the last decade, since federal organic standards have come to the fore, giant agri-food corporations like these and others - Coca-Cola, Cargill, ConAgra, General Mills, Kraft and M&M Mars among them - have gobbled up most of the nation's organic food industry. Pure, locally produced ingredients from small family farms? Not so much anymore.

All of which riles Mr. Potter, 62. Which is why he took off in late May from here for Albuquerque, where the cardinals of the $30-billion-a-year organic food industry were meeting to decide which ingredients that didn't exactly sound fresh from the farm should be blessed as allowed ingredients in "organic" products. Ingredients like carrageenan, a seaweed-derived thickener with a somewhat controversial health record. Or synthetic inositol, which is manufactured using chemical processes. 


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