Whole Living Daily

Is the Corporatization of Organic Food a Bad Thing?

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The rise in popularity and availability of organic food seems like a good thing, but a recent New York Times article has us reconsidering. In "Has 'Organic' Been Oversized?" Stephanie Strom examines the business of organics, and finds that only a few companies -- including Eden Foods, Clif Bar & Company, Amy’s Kitchen, Lundberg Family Farms -- are still independent.

Corporate ownership itself isn't the problem, but there are concerns that influence from these companies are blurring the lines and changing the definition of what organic foods are, all in the name of their own interests and profits.

“In some ways, organic is a victim of its own success,” says Philip H. Howard, an assistant professor at Michigan State University, says in the article. “Big corporations see the trends and the opportunity to make money and profit,” he says.

One of the major issues is the increasing number of nonorganic substances that are approved for organic foods, which has grown as corporate membership has increased on the board that sets the standards for organic foods. There are now more than 250 nonorganic substances are on the list, up from 77 in 2002, according to the Times. However, Kathleen Merrigan, a deputy secretary of agriculture, rejects the idea that corporate interests are responsible for the growing list. “It’s really very simplistic and headline-grabbing to throw out those sorts of critiques, but when you get down into the details, there are usually very rational and important reasons for the actions the board has taken,” Merrigan tells the Times.

What do you think? Does the involvement of large food companies change the way you feel about buying organics? Or do you think that there's undue bias against corporations? Sound off in the comments.

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Comments (1)

  • Yes, I have my concerns! I was wondering myself if the large companies' demands for greater production(resulting from the greater demand by the consumer AND their desire/ability to cash in on it) would cause them to abide by "the letter of the law" rather than the intent--which is more WHOLESOME food products AND PRODUCTION PRACTICES! "Certified Organic" statis doesn't necessarily address the many other factors involved in the various methods of production, especially where animals are concerned--I'd rather buy locally when possible, from a producer/facility that I can visit that grows as naturally/sustainably as possible with as pleasant an environment as possible, (such as the "Certified Naturally Grown", or CNG member farms), than strictly those labeled "USDA Organic".

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