« Film Trailer: Sweetgrass | Main | Books We Like: Michael Pollan's Food Rules »
Monday
Jan112010

New Video: Is BIG Organic the Enemy?

Consumers and activists alike tend to be nervous about big corporations taking over organic brands. Many wonder, how can we make organics available to a larger audience at cheaper prices while maintaining the standards on which organics were founded?

These are questions we brought to Ken Cook, the President of Environmental Working Group (EWG) during our visit to Organic Valley's Kickapoo Country Fair.

-Dorothee

Reader Comments (6)

Great interview. Ken's comment about organic being "private school" for food choices is right on the mark, its always been one of my fears...even as organic has gone mainstream if remains quite expensive relative to the alternatives. There absolutely has to be very tight monitoring of standards, and the organic community needs to remain focused on preventing those standards from being diluted as bigger players get into the game. There needs to be a balance struck that holds standards high, yet provides a path to broader adoption of organic. This is how we are going to make our population healthier, or one important angle of that effort. Choices free of artificial junk and chemicals that impact kids developing bodies and overall health.

Organic Valley is a great model for how you can build a big impactful company that can play in mainstream, while keeping focused on the values that the industry was founded upon. All of the organic cheese we use at Annie's now comes exclusively from OV...they do a great job.

Nice video and great site, I look forward to following your efforts here!

John Foraker, CEO, Annie's

January 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Foraker

Thanks, John. It's great to hear from you. (We're crazy for your Goddess salad dressing, by the way.)

The challenge of shedding that "private school" label while getting good food to more people is a big one, and there certainly won't be one single solution. I'm encouraged by a few developments of the past year, including the growth of farmers markets nationwide, and the fact that some farmers markets are finally beginning to accept food stamps, but we have a long way to go.

As the organic industry grows, I think groups like EWG and the Cornucopia Institute (as well as enterprising bloggers) are going to be some of the most important players in maintaining the integrity of the organic movement.

-Mark

January 11, 2010 | Registered CommenterOrganicNation.tv

Great video! I'm a huge fan of all involved. I also agree with Ken's comment about organic being "private school" for food choices but I also think that the extra you may pay for organic food should be seen as an investment. An investment in our health, an investment in our communities, an investment in our environment and an investment in our future. The old adage: you get what you pay for, is so true. We can't expect the prices to be as low as the pesticide laden, denatured "food" that is the alternative or we'll be right back were we started. Another old adage to remember: you are what you eat!

January 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWendy

Great interview. I was wondering about the same thing when Food Inc. revealed the number of organic brands that have been bought over by larger companies. But then I remember hearing Gary Hirshberg mentioning that he still has complete control of how Stonyfield runs. So there's comfort in knowing that the standards will still be maintained while the brand benefits from reaching a wider audience. Which makes me wonder... who're the ones calling the shots for the other brands in the same boat?

January 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShuling Yong

I think more and more people realize it's not just about organic but also about local. The reason is important is local refers to the flow of revenue from a company. If large scale organic plays a role in the local food movement that's one thing, however if the large scale corporation absorbs most of the profits into a corporate headquarters far from the community it is selling to, then the benefits of local are lost. A large part of that model is keeping more food dollars in the local community or region circulating and supporting families and businesses in that region. This model is critical in combating the economic disinvestment plaguing many of our rural and urban communities in order to keep them healthy, vibrant, and economically resilient.

March 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Mr. Cook mentioned the concern of big corporations pressuring the government to lower the standards of organic. Maybe instead of letting the government control the standard of organic it should instead by controlled by a private third party that can more reliably maintain the standard. We all know the government can very easily be lobbied, congressfolks don't read the bills they vote for, and riders are added to bills that having nothing to do with what the congress things they're voting for. I'd feel much better if products certified organic were certified by a private company (or better yet multiple private competing companies) instead of the government.

June 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.