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Interesting Information: The Corporate “Organic” Label is a Rip-Off

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Interesting Information:  August 23, 2011

The Corporate “Organic” Label is a Rip-Off

About a week ago, my sister and I had a Facebook interchange about some “organic” yogurt purchased at a local grocery store in order to help her sick grandson–who had been running a high fever.  My sister hoped the probiotics in the yogurt would help build up her grandson’s immune system.

“That’s unlikely if it came from a commercial grocery store,” I said.  “It’s a fake food.”

What I didn’t say is that most of the probiotics listed on a label of commercial yogurt are probably no longer alive.  They get killed during the process of making the fake food.  (Look for a claim of “live” cultures.)  And I didn’t say that anything made from pasteurized milk is not a health food.  Or, that it should be avoided since it’s pretty much wasted calories in your body.   I’ve already said these things to myk sister many times, and she’s been very patient with me and my food ideas over the past few years.  The good news is that she’s talking about buying a cow share and about working with a local, organic farm in her area that sells milk, meat, eggs, and produce.

Pretty much all of the small “organic” companies have now been purchased by BIG CORPORATIONS.  And, in the name of both bigness and profit, they’ve corrupted almost everything that the term “organic” used to mean.

Stonyfield was the yogurt brand in question.  The carton pictures warm and fuzzy images of cows grazing on green fields.  Or, a pretty woman eating yogurt in a background of green fields and a red barn.

But, Stonyfield sold out to Group Danone, which also owns the “organic” brand, Brown Cow.  Group Danone also owns Dannon dairy products.

 Assuming the type of yogurt in question for my grand-nephew is whole milk plain yogurt, and not any of the fat-free or low-fat options–you need fat to process protein–AND assuming it was not one of the whole milk fruit-filled options (like white chocolate raspberry) which are full of sugars so that they are a dessert, not a health food for a sick child, the label shows that in addition to the probiotic cultures, the yogurt contains added pectin (a hidden source of fiber to thicken the yogurt–too much fiber can cause damage to your digestive system) and what has to be synthetic vitamin D3, which never operates in human bodies like the real D3 present in real foods.

What the label does NOT SHOW is that Stonyfield also adds powdered milk to its yogurt to thicken it up.  Powdered milk is highly processed so that the chemical strands are broken up, which creates all kinds of toxins.  (Don’t drink powdered ANYTHING.)

And, I’d want to have an objective third party to witness the pasturing of these Stonyfield cows because most commercial dairies, organic included, supplement with grains and god knows what else.  (One site I read today had a commenter telling how local “organic” cows on a farm on her road were being fed “organic” doughnuts.)  That’s just what happens when BIG BUSINESS exerts profit pressures and when dairy farms are being driven out of business in droves.

Back in 2006, BUSINESS WEEK used Stonyfield to illustrate what a tawdry thing the term “organic” has become in the hands of large corporations:  “The Organic Myth:  pastoral ideals are getting trampled as organic food goes mass market.”  It’s an article well worth reading since nothing has changed for the better since 2006:   http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_42/b4005001.htm.

The article almost immediately points out that Stonyfield’s organic farm is “long gone.”  Instead, “its main facility is a state-of-the-art industrial plant just off the airport strip in Londonderry, NH, where it handles milk from other farms.”  And, it blows the whistle on Stonyfield’s use of powdered milk and its attempts to have said powdered milk shipped to the US from New Zealand which is 9,000 miles away.

Dr. Joseph Mercola made a video after the article came out, and it’s worth viewing:   http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2006/10/12/you-are-being-ripped-off-by-much-of-the-organic-food-you-are-buying.aspx.   Mercola called it “You Are Being Ripped Off By Much Of The ‘Organic’ Food You Are Buying.”

Obviously, I agree with Dr. Mercola’s assessment.  Real organic food can’t be found in your local grocery store if it comes in a package.  And, that “organic” produce that you can sometimes find is being shipped here from places like Holland, Peru, Israel, Mexico, and China.  Besides the fact that this produce is tired out and lifeless, who knows how it has been grown.  Take a look at the German film OUR DAILY BREAD to see what I mean.  Most of this produce is being grown in hoop houses in peat packs stuffed with synthetic nutrients–all tended by technological equipment and lone, lonely people.  It’s not real food grown in nutrient-dense soil.  It hasn’t been harvested with joy by groups of people who will eat it together.  And you’re being charged premium prices for it.

You have to go out and find local, organic farmers in your own community and work out ways to get their food into your kitchen and into your body.  And, you have to eat seasonally as much as possible.  You can do it; there’s all kinds of help now to locate real farmers and organic food that will sustain your health and the health of those you love.  Start with the lists on the Weston A. Price Foundation and/or the ads in their quarterly journal, WISE TRADITIONS.  And, there’s all kinds of help to learn how to preserve some food from summer for the winter.

The CEO of Stonyfield sent Dr. Mercola a letter that attempts to explain Stonyfield’s “organic practices.”  You can find that letter on the same Mercola site as the video.  It’s really sad to read such a letter from someone who used to have an organic farm.   The denial and greed is shameful.  But that is what happens when corporations and capitalism are not tied to a set of values and ethics that support human rather than short-term profit.

Here’s a partial list of the once organic small businesses that are now “organic”:  Burt’s Bees, Tom’s of Maine, Odwalla, Naked Juice, Horizon Organic Dairy, The Organic Cow of Vermont, After the Fall, R.W. Knukdsen, Kashi, GardenBurger, Bear Naked, Back to Nature, Boca, Cascadian Farms, Health Valley, Arrowhead Mills, Green and Blacks Organic Chocolate, Dagoba Chocolate, Seeds of Change, Muir Glen, Alta Dena, White Wave/Silk, Westbrae, and Westsoy.

Buyer Beware!

Finally, make your own yogurt.  It’s dead easy–unless you’re working with ultra-pasteurized milk, which might not culture.  And, even yogurt made from pasteurized milk is better than the expensive fake stuff.  Heat your oven to 200 degrees.  Pour a half-gallon of whole milk into a large glass bowl.  Mix in two packages of Yogumet starter.  Put a plate over your bowl.  Turn the oven off, and put the bowl into the oven.  Let it sit over night.  In the morning you will have lovely yogurt.  Save about 1/4 cup for your next batch.  Sometimes it can take yogurt a bit longer.  Give it time; it won’t spoil.  Keep it in a warm place until it jells.

Written by louisaenright

August 23, 2011 at 6:20 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Good entry, Louisa,
    I had no idea that the store bought yogurts are practically devoid of probiotics. I’ve been feeding my two year old the stuff with blueberries every morning since she was one. Crap! Well, at least she was getting the nutrients and antioxidants from the wild Maine berries. I’m going to buy whole, raw milk today to be on the path of always making my own yogurt. Thank you for your information and inspiration.

    (from Eastern Tire that day…)

    Jennifer Marshall

    August 24, 2011 at 8:49 am

    • Hi Jen! So nice to hear from you. So enjoyed talking to you the other day. As to “wild” blueberries, they are, actually, highly cultivated. Be sure you buy organic, otherwise our local growers are using pretty nasty pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides on them–to include organophosphates, atrazine, and a bunch of new chemicals about which we know little as they have not been properly tested.


      August 24, 2011 at 7:11 pm

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