Tag Archives: big ag

Organic food industry is being overtaken by mega corporations – take a look

mega corps taking over food production
Source: Phil Howard, Michigan State University

Assoc. Prof. Phil Howard of Michigan State University tracks the evolution – or degeneration – of the United States’ organic food standard. Howard told the WaPo,

It’s easier than ever to access to foods,” he said, “and the prices have come down. On the other hand, there is continual pressure to weaken the national organic standards to increase profits – and the big companies have the clout to do that.

Still, it’s disconcerting to learn that organic has become corporatized, and Howard certainly isn’t the only sustainability professional concerned about the trend. Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumer’s Association explains what the fuss is all about:

While Cummins believes that this is still largely true in practice, he says that this will change over time. I see some troubling trends, especially in organic dairy. In that sector there is a major move toward moving production from family farms to industrial feedlot factory farms. Horizon controls 70% of the US organic dairy market, and last year it was bought by Dean Foods, he told CorpWatch..

³No way in hell can you be organic if you have over a few hundred cows. After a certain size, the operation cannot be ecologically sound anymore, among other things because of the amount of manure produced, added Cummins.

³In California there are huge organic farms that produce organic lettuce and carrots in large monocultures, using large energy inputs and receiving subsidized water- three elements that are anti-environmental and unacceptable for those who want ecologically sound farming, he adds.

In a 2002 study conducted at the University of California at Davis, Karen Klonsky documents that organic food production in California is already concentrated. Two percent of organic farm operations, about 27 growers, bring in over $1 million a year and represent over half of the organic sales in the state.

Indeed while over 90% of all U.S. farms are categorized by the USDA as small, the other 10% — big agribusiness — provide approximately 60% of all food sales.

Big Ag and its destruction called ‘conventional’ farming to hide the truth

farming for profitConventional farming is Big Ag’s planned destruction of human and natural food systems. It includes GMOs, patented seeds, silent forests, animals that are tortured for years before being slaughtered, one more India farmer that will commit suicide 30 minutes from now and many other very scary things. Conventional seems like such an innocent word: conjures up thoughts of conventional wisdom, societal conventions which are the underpinning of civilization … but this word, like our food system, has been corrupted by Big Money and their lapdogs, the major media portals, to confound and confuse us, and to obfuscate the truth. L.E.A.F. explains:

Conventional farming systems share many characteristics: rapid technological innovation; large capital investments in order to apply production and management technology; large-scale farms; single crops/row crops grown continuously over many seasons; uniform high-yield hybrid crops; extensive use of pesticides, fertilizers, and external energy inputs; high labor efficiency; and dependency on agribusiness. In the case of livestock, most production comes from confined, concentrated systems.

Philosophical underpinnings of industrial agriculture include assumptions that “a) nature is a competitor to be overcome; b) progress requires unending evolution of larger farms and depopulation of farm communities; c) progress is measured primarily by increased material consumption; d) efficiency is measured by looking at the bottom line; and e) science is an unbiased enterprise driven by natural forces to produce social good.” [Karl N. Stauber et al., “The Promise of Sustainable Agriculture,” in Planting the Future: Developing an Agriculture that Sustains Land and Community, Elizabeth Ann R. Bird, Gordon L. Bultena, and John C. Gardner, editors (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1995)

When it’s good food you crave to feed to your families, look to traditional or family farming – and organics. Although take care with organics, as in recent years that industry has been steadily encroached upon by Big Ag too.

Major corps take over organic brands & dilute them

The organic designation in the United States doesn’t have the quality guarantee that it once did. That’s because major corporations have taken over the organic industry and are obviously looking to increase profits. That means buying up independent organic brands and then diluting the “organic” label by throwing their mega-billions of dollars behind lobbying to lower the standards that have protected the organic designation. Lower standards mean more profit, after all.

Is there something else going on here as well? For example, do major corps want to sell us frankenfood because they’re heavily invested in nursing homes, the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries? Well, maybe. That research is still waiting to be done, so stand by, folks.

For today, I can give you this graphic showing all of the once truly “organic” brands that are now owned by major food corporations.

Chart showing organic brands that have been taken over by Big Food companies

I hope all my Jersey friends went out and voted for Board of Education candidates today. Let me know …