Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Organic Ownership

Good morning readers,

Recently, I decided to become more educated about where my products were coming from. I started to research which organic companies had been bought out and as I started to compile my list, I noticed someone had already made this wonderful flow chart. It was an eye-opening experience for me to realize that most of the brands that seemed safe, small, local, organic were actually owned by large corporations.

Behold the horror:

Credited to Philip H. Howard of MSU
(Click above for a larger version of this chart)

Now I've heard both sides of the story on this chart.

One point of view is that the bigger a company gets, the less control they have over their products. The manufacturing gets outsourced to large factories, possibly contaminating the original product. The ingredients may end up diminishing in quality because the purchasing guidelines will reflect the financial aspect of the company versus their commitment to a valued product. Companies change. For example, Burt's Bees used to be a wonderful, natural product but since being bought out by Clorox, the ingredient list has grown and as described by fellow crunchy mamas in personal anecdotes, their products no longer work as well.

The other point of view is that while no one enjoys supporting large corporations, we have to start somewhere. If large corporations start to profit from smaller, healthier companies, then maybe we will see the poisonous products slowly fade. This viewpoint is discussed by Maria Rodale in her book Organic Manifesto. I haven't read the book but I've heard the summary a few times.

After consulting with friend and environmentalist, Monika Kumar, she commented:

Interesting chart, but that doesn't necessarily mean the smaller company's vision and method of making products is corrupted by the bigger one. Usually, the bigger companies buy these guys out to have a hand in the new growing organics market. So, yes, market-share is held by the bigger companies, but it is becoming more acceptable for bigger companies to own a small organic branch. Just read the labels before you buy anything and read their website with their vision/mission. Not all companies are committed to a truly sustainable way - even when they say "all natural" or "no preservative," look into what that exactly means and if their values align with yours. And if your favorite brand seems to be changing their ways, just write them a letter expressing your concern -- if they value their mission and vision, they will still listen to their customers.

I'd say that's some sound advice. We can't control the world, we can only control our world.

Mama A

No comments:

Post a Comment