Big Food corporations in the U.S. have an incredible source of power. Over the last few years we have seen MANy Big Food companies buy up independent, organic companies as part of their quest to take over and dominate our food system in this country.
In most of those cases, they claim that changes will be minimal ~ the smaller companies can still produce their food as they deem fit and to their normal standards. But.. that’s not always the case 🙂
Why is this Important?
Considering the risks of some of these Big Food Corporations, it’s important to know which companies are owned by larger parent corporations. If you do any shopping in the grocery store, it’s incredibly important to know more about your products – right?
Although we are not big proponents of shopping in the grocery store for this reason and more…but we know that not everyone is interested in purchasing from their local farmer. If you find yourself shopping in store, you might find this information helpful in learning more about where your food comes from.
The Grip Gets Larger
In 1995, over 20 years ago, there were 81 independent organic processing companies in the U.S. — just ten years later, Big Food grabbed up ALL but 15 of them.
You can see a popular Infographic from 2003, which was published in the “Who Owns Organic” publication by Dr. Philip H. Howard. Click HERE to see a larger version.
Problems Erupt with Big Food Swallowing Smaller Companies
Popular Silk Soymilk (and founder Steve Demos) sold out to Dean Foods – and Demos originally kept his job but then later on was told he wasn’t a great fit for the job. Not long after, Silk switched to Soybeans that were not organic and more than likely were genetically modified. Not to mention they never told their customer base.
There are quite a few of the same corporations that own many of the popular natural and organic brands – such as Stonyfield, Earthbound Farm, Honest Tea and even Cascadian Farm.
Is it a bad thing that these brands are controlled by so few companies? Believe it or not, it CAN be a bad thing ~ here are 3 reasons why.
#1 – Big Food has Dangerous Political Power
In our current political system, pressure groups try relentlessly to pass and block bills. The more funded they are, the ore that they can afford to have an influence in the end.
The Food Industry conducts lobbying levels – not only at local levels but national levels too – in the case of an upcoming election, like we have this year, it’s also happening.
Many of the companies above are investing large amounts into the campaigns of presidential candidates. In order to understand the power of their initiatives, we must look at the most recent news from U.S.A. Today – that GMO’s are safe – and there is nothing wrong with them.
The truth is… to date, it’s impossible to know whether GMO’s are healthy or not – even worse, there are NO labels on our food in the store to help you … from Food Convergence:
The US state of Oregon has tried, in 2002, to introduce legislation to force companies to disclose which of their products contain GMOs. We are not talking here of banning GMOs, or even reduce their use, but only to inform consumers about their presence in the products purchased, and let them choose to buy or not. A huge lobby representing the food giants was then formed, each company is contributing to death with tens of thousands of dollars (Pepsico has invested $ 127,000, Procter & Gamble, $ 80,000). In the end, the bill is not passed .
#2 – Your Health = the Food you Eat
Your health ultimately rests on the food that you take in. When the quality food you eat is produced by so few independent companies, you can only worry about all those foods that aren’t covered by those companies.
Contrary to what those Big Food companies say, they really aren’t as concerned for your health as you might like ~ in most cases, they are all about effective advertising to drive revenue – all at your expense.
#3 – Economical Impact
The problem with big food swallowing little companies, is that the market is largely controlled with HUGE barriers to entry. NEW companies trying to establish themselves may find it hard to go up against a larger, Big Food company.
A small produce does not have nearly the budget to compete with larger companies. Not to mention that the larger companies spend so much in advertising, that it’s almost second nature for consumers to automatically go with them – they know them, trust them, and that brand is a household name.
Any new company that even attempts to emerge into the market for the good of the people risks being purchase up quickly by a larger Big Food company – preventing competition in the market.
What’s a normal person to do?
In some cases, this should concern you – and reinforce your desire to encourage smaller, more local producers. Not only will you know where your food comes from, your business will directly profit the local farmers and businesses versus Big Food companies. Changel all starts with the consumer.
Not only do we need to be aware with where our food comes from, we should want to put our money in places that will benefit us long term.
Companies spent over 5 million dollars against Proposition 37 (Labeling) – the Huffington Post shows that the following companies contributed big dollars in opposition:
Monsanto – $7,100,500
DuPont – $4,900,000
Pepsi – $2,145,400
Bayer – $2,000,000
Dow – $2,000,000
BASF – $2,000,000
Syngenta – $2,000,000
Kraft Foods – $1,950,000
Coca-Cola – $1,455,500
Nestle – $1,315,600
General Mills – $1,135,000
ConAgra – $1,077,000
Kellogg’s – $790,000
Smithfield – $684,000
Considering that money spent could have been used TO label the products, is cost really their main concern? It’s important to know where your food comes from – join a CSA to purchase your produce from a local farmer. Find a source of Raw Milk in your area; invest in a relationship with a local farmer for your pastured meat. Change your habits – from becoming dependent on these brands to becoming self sufficient in your own ways.