Forget about “Who Moved My Cheese?” Consumers want to know who poisoned their cheese.
The marketing wizards at Vermont-based companies like Ben & Jerry’s and Cabot Creamery (the cheesemakers) have done a brilliant job of portraying Vermont’s dairy lands as pristine pastures, where happy herds of dairy cows graze on lush green grass.
Here’s the truth behind the myth: From 1999 to 2012, Vermont’s dairy farmers applied more than 2,533,329 pounds of metolachlor, atrazine and simazine to their cornfields. All three of these chemicals are probable human carcinogens, birth defect progenitors, endocrine disruptors and persistent water polluters.
Where does all that pesticide-drenched corn (mostly GMO) go? Into ice cream and cheese, marketed by Ben & Jerry’s and Cabot (among others) as “natural, “rBGH-free,” “GMO-Free” and “healthy for children.” Are we to believe that a cow dining on atrazine-sprayed GMO feed somehow doesn’t transmit these poisons into the milk that ultimately ends up in cheese and ice cream?
Vermonters (and everyone who buys Ben & Jerry’s and Cabot cheese products) are just now learning the truth about Vermont’s #DirtyDairy industry, thanks to a combination of Vermont state law and the work of Regeneration Vermont, (a founding partner of OCA’s Regeneration International project).
Vermont is one of three states (New York and California are the others) that require farmers to report their pesticide, herbicide and fertilizer usage every year to the state’s Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (AAFM). For years, AAFM has collected the pesticide data—but done nothing to analyze it, much less publicize it.
That all changed when Regeneration Vermont decided to scrutinize the data, and let the public know just how dirty Vermont’s dairy industry really is. From this recent article in the Vermont Digger, co-authored by Regeneration Vermont’s Will Allen and Michael Colby:
Regeneration Vermont is in the process of trying to wake up consumers, the corporate dairy suppliers, and the regulators that these dangerous toxins are probably in our milk, ice cream, cheese, butter and yogurt, and are definitely in our drinking and recreational waters. We believe that, in order to truly protect the Vermont brand by putting some reality behind it, an immediate transition to regenerative organic dairying needs to be fast-tracked.
Will corporations like Cabot Creamery and Ben & Jerry’s heed the call to clean up their acts?
Read the article
Stephen Colbert made it popular, but the word “truthiness” has been around for a long time. Webster’s provides a list of definitions, including this one: (noun) : truth level of a statement; and this one: (noun) : The quality of stating what one wishes or feels to be true instead of what is actually true.
Tom’s of Maine, or more accurately, the brand’s majority owner, Colgate-Palmolive, was clearly guilty of “truthiness” when it created a webpage titled “How to Identify Organic Toothpaste.” On that page, intended primarily to promote the Tom’s of Maine toothpaste brand, the company stopped just short of overtly claiming the brand is organic. But it clearly implied that it is.
We complained (here’s the letter from our lawyer). And we asked you to complain, by emailing Colgate’s CEO, Ian M. Cook, and speaking out on social media.
You did. And within hours, we were contacted by a manager at Tom’s, and a Colgate lawyer. They apologized, and removed the webpage.
Some of you pointed out that Tom’s of Maine toothpaste doesn’t label its product organic. That’s true, but that wasn’t the point. In addition to falsely claiming that no USDA organic certification exists for personal products like toothpaste (it does), the company did everything it could to imply that the brand is organic—including using OCA’s name to imply endorsement.
Thanks to you, Colgate is no longer playing the “truthiness” game with the Tom’s of Maine brand.
Coincidentally, days after our alert went out, the truth police at Cornucopia Institute issued this report: Behind the Dazzling Smile: Toxic Ingredients in Your Toothpaste.
Want to know which toothpaste is the most consumer-friendly? Check out Cornucopia’s Toothpaste Brand Scorecard.
The short-lived campaign against Tom’s was so successful, we thought it was high time we enlisted your help in identifying other cases of mislabeling, false advertising or Tom’s of Maine-like “truthiness.” Suspect a brand is misleading consumers? Let us know!
TAKE ACTION: Suspect a brand of false advertising or mislabeling? Let us know! Email: email@example.com
Cornucopia’s Toothpaste Brand Scorecard.
Most of you likely still seething over the DARK Act, the bill that falsely claimed to provide “uniform federal mandatory GMO labeling,” when in fact it did nothing of the sort.
Disappointed? Disillusioned? Fed up? Mad as hell?
We hear you. And we need you.
We need you to channel that anger and frustration into fighting back, in the marketplace. We need you to bring your energy, your creativity, your hope for a healthier food system, a healthier democracy, a healthier planet, to our new campaigns—campaigns aimed at making it crystal clear to the corporations responsible for poisoning our food and planet, that for every dollar they spend to influence politicians and policy, we will outspend them in righteous anger and sheer determination.
This battle is far from over. And now, more than ever, we need your support. Please consider a donation today, to help fund the future of food. Thank you!
Donate to the Organic Consumers Association (tax-deductible, helps support our work on behalf of organic standards, fair trade and public education)
Donate to the Organic Consumers Fund (non-tax-deductible, but necessary for our GMO labeling legislative efforts)
Support OCA's Regeneration International Project (tax-deductible, helps support our work on behalf of organic, regenerative agriculture and climate change)
Food is the great uniter. It’s not a luxury, it’s not even optional. It shouldn’t be political—but unfortunately, it is.
When food corporations pour millions of dollars into lobbying Congress in order to influence everything from the approval of chemical additives to subsidies for soil-wrecking industrial agriculture practices, they don’t discriminate between Democrat and Republican, Independent, Libertarian or Green Party. They throw as much money as they need, in as many directions as possible, to buy influence.
As consumers, we need to be equally indiscriminate in our support of politicians who are on the right side of the food and natural health movements. We need to identify and support those politicians, regardless of party affiliation, who are already on our side. And we need to support new, up-and-coming candidates who are willing to engage with us, and listen.
From a recent Food First report:
Remember the great 2016 presidential campaign debate about food and agriculture, the backbone of human nourishment and survival? Remember when the candidates were forced to articulate their stances on soil regeneration, farm subsidy inequities, labor abuse in the food industry, and how to rein in pesticides and GMOs while expanding organic diversified farming? Remember when the media pressed candidates to explain how they would make food and farming equitable, truly sustainable, and deeply healthful for generations to come?
You didn’t forget—it never happened.
That’s right. Major parties, minor parties—it doesn’t matter. Food and agriculture are being left out of the conversation. The only way these critical issues will ever make it onto the public political stage is if we, the people, make it happen.
Whether or not you felt (or still feel) “the Bern,” one thing to come out of the Sanders campaign is something called “Our Revolution.” You might think this campaign is open to, or relevant for, only the Bernie supporters. But we’re going to ask you to look at it this way: Anyone who cares about food (and soil and health), regardless of their political party preference, can participate in “Our Revolution” and become a voice for a sane, healthy food and farming system.
“Our Revolution” recently put out a call for people to organize house parties. We’re calling on consumers everywhere to host a party (or join one) and to speak out, often and loudly, about the need for politicians to address our degenerative food and ag system, and promise to be part of a regenerative solution if they want our votes.
Remember: Real change comes from the bottom up. It’s possible that some of us may speak up and not be heard. But it’s guaranteed that if none of us speak up, none of us will be heard. Let’s get in on the ground floor of this next revolution. Let’s insist that the food movement be recognized as a powerful political force!
Sign up to host an ‘Our Revolution’ organizing kick-off
Consumers are demanding more and more information about what's in our food. But what if food producers also had to tell us how our food is made?
For example, did the grower of a product—organic or otherwise—use regenerative farming practices that contributed to soil health? Practices that helped restore the soil’s capacity to retain precious water? And draw down and store carbon? Practices that maybe resulted in a higher price at the checkout counter? But took a lower toll on the environment?
The next time someone tells you organic (and beyond organic) food is too expensive, you may want to remind them that our grandparents paid a lot more for their food, as a percentage of income, than we do today. And that there’s a price to be paid for “cheap” food—a price that our kids and grandkids will have to pay, even if we don’t.
Watch the video
Want to experience Mexico’s Día de los Muertos? Join our October-November Vía Orgánica Eco Tour!
Día de los Muertos —Day of the Dead—is one of Mexico’s most important cultural events, a traditional celebration in which the living remember and honor their departed relatives with festivals and lively celebrations. You can experience this cultural phenomenon if you sign up for our October 27 – November 3 Eco Tour. Registration deadline for the October-November tour is September 27.
Vía Orgánica eco tours also include side trips to San Miguel de Allende and other World Heritage sites, trail rides and nature walks, horseback riding, and organic farming and cooking workshops—and of course, the opportunity to join in lively discussions with OCA and Vía Orgánica staff and other tour participants.
Participants stay at Vía Orgánica’s eco ranch and farm school, which serves as an educational farm and training center for farmers, students and activists in the organic food movement. The ranch includes a natural retreat center with adobe buildings, walking trails, solar power, rainwater catchment, and greywater and composting systems. Cost for accommodations and all-organic meals is $1250 per person.
Can’t make the October tour, but want to plan your winter escape? Other tour dates are also available:
• November 22-29 (Register by October 22)• December 6-13 (Register by November 6)• January 17-24 (Register by December 17)• February 15-22 (Register by January 15)• March 19-26 (Register by February 19)
Wondering what the tours are like? Here’s what one recent participant had to say:
“I not only learned about farming in a way that meets our global challenges, but I was introduced to the most amazing people who are involved with the ranch and restaurant. I came away with more excitement for life, more practical skills for living my values, a wider sense of possibility and brand new group of friends.” - Maureen Dawn
For more information or to register contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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