The food giants quickly realized there was a high demand for organic products, which also meant there was an enormous amount of money to be made selling it, so they set out to take over the industry – one cool company at a time. As a result, over 80% of organic companies are now owned by mega corporations.
What should be of most alarming to consumers about the “Big Organic” takeover (think Big Ag and Big Pharma), is the shrewd ability of these corporations to control labeling or lack thereof – as evidenced in the epic battle over GMOs. Equally frightening is their power to effectively water down the standards of organics across the country. Think about it…
Backroom lobbying deals, a corrupt FDA system, and corporate greenwashing will result in fewer, more expensive and less responsible choices. Simultaneously, this will allow Big Ag and Big Organic to completely degenerate the entire organic market. What we know to be a harmful pesticide, may now be reclassified as an “organic pesticide” because it contains some “organic” substance. The loopholes these mega corps seek to instill in the organic market are truly frightening and a major setback in our evolution towards clean, healthy, sustainable farming.
The more we know about who owns and controls our food, the more we can support trustworthy companies. Save this page as a quick reference guide for when you’re out shopping.
Here are some of the companies whose sell-out came at quite a surprise:
1. Annie’s (known for their mac-n-cheese) was bought by General Mills in late summer 2014. This company uses a lot of non-organic cheese products and does not state whether the cheese comes from cows that were fed GMOs.
2. Applegate Farms, the top distributor of organic meat to the U.S., was sold to Hormel (one of the most egregiously pro-GMO meat companies out there) in 2015.
3. Cascadian Farm has been around for so long, you can’t help but think it’s a trusted source of organic products, but it was actually bought out by General Mills in 1999. They were quick to triple the sugar content in their once “no added sugars” cereals.
4. Silk, although found in the health food section of most stores, they are not exactly organic… When the company was acquired by WhiteWave, a spin-off company of the massive pro-GMO corporation Dean Foods, they actually switched from non-GMO to GMO soybeans without telling their customers!
5. Earthbound Farms, the largest supplier of organic produce in the U.S., was also purchased by WhiteWave back in 2013.
6. R.W. Knudson’s is another one of those companies who has been around forever, but what most don’t realize is the organic juice maker is owned by Smucker’s, who publicly supports the use of GMOs.
7. Dagoba Chocolate is branded to look like a cool, independent company, but it’s actually owned by the chocolate giant Hershey’s.
8. Stonyfield Organic Yogurt Yes – Stonyfield! They are owned by the Danone Group of France, makers of Dannon yogurt, Brown Cow yogurt, and Evian water.
9. Honest Tea & Odwalla Honestly, I could not believe either of these companies sold-out to Coca Cola.
10. Horizon was scooped up by WhiteWave and are now subject to many complaints and investigations alleging they’re more of a factory farm type of operation than an “organic” company.
11. Dave’s Killer Bread is the latest great company to sell out for a whopping $275 million dollars. Basically Dave Dahl handed over his baby to the pro-GMO food corporation Flowers Food (owners of Wonder Bread) so he could “sit back and relax”. When asked in a recent interview: “What do you tell the folks who say Killer Dave sold out?” He responded: “That’s what I did,” “That’s what we did.”
12. Morning Star, Kashi, and Bear Naked are all owned by food giant Kellogg’s.
13. Boca and back to Nature are both owned by Kraft
14. Tom’s of Maine is actually under Colgate.
15. Burt’s Bees was once as independent as independent could be – that is until the company was sold to Clorox.
16. Garden of Eatin’, Arrowhead Mills, Spectrum Organics, Earth’s Best, Health Valley, Casbah, Imagine/Rice Dream/Soy Dream, Tofu Town and Westsoy all belong to the Hain Celestial/Heinz corporation.
17. Naked Juice has sadly been owned by Pepsi since 2006.
18. Humboldt Creamery sounds like a charming Northern California independent company, but no…it is owned by none other than Foster Farms.
19. Erewhon, with its organic sounding name, is actually owned by Post Foods.
20. New Chapter, a very popular maker of natural vitamin supplements, was taken over by Proctor and Gamble. This is a real shock and a huge concern for the future of the brand’s quality control.
Here is a broader list of organic and non-organic companies who have all sold out:
|Aidell’s Sausage||Hillshire Brands||2011|
|Annie’s Naturals||General Mills||2014|
|Arrowhead Mills||Hain Celestial||1998|
|Back To Nature||Heinz/Kraft||2003|
|Barbara’s||Wheatabix Food Co.||1986|
|Ben & Jerrys Organic||Unilever||2003|
|Bolthouse Farms||Campbell Soup||2012|
|Campbell’s Organic||Campbell Soup||2003|
|Cascadian Farm||General Mills||1999|
|Coleman Natural||Purdue Farms||2011|
|Dave’s Killer Bread||Flower Foods||2015|
|Dove Organic||M&M Mars||2006|
|Draper Valley||Purdue Farms||2007|
|Earthbound Farm||WhiteWave (Dean Int’l)||2013|
|Earth’s Best||Hain Celestial||1999|
|Ella’s Kitchen||Hain Celestial||2013|
|Food Should Taste Good||General Mills||2012|
|French Meadow||Rich Products Corp||2007|
|Fruitti de Bosco||Walnut Acres||2001|
|Garden of Eatin||Hain Celestial||1998|
|Gerber Organic Baby Food||Nestle||2007|
|Gold Medal Organic||General Mills||2005|
|Green & Black’s||Cadbury Schweppes||2005|
|Happy Baby Organic||Dannon/Danone||2013|
|Health Valley||Hain Celestial||1999|
|Hershey Organic||Hershey Foods||2007|
|Honest Tea||Coca Cola (40% stake)||2008|
|Humboldt Creamery||Foster Farms||2009|
|Kettle (chips, etc.)||Diamond Foods||2010|
|Knudsen R.W.||J.M. Smucker||1984|
|Late July||Snyders (minority stake)||2007|
|Millina’s Finest||Walnut Acres||2001|
|Mott’s Organic||Cadbury Schweppes||2004|
|Mountain Sun||Hain Celestial/Walnut Acres||2001|
|Muir Glen||Cascadian Farm||1998|
|Nantucket Nectars Organic||Cadbury Schweppes||2004|
|Nile Spice||Hain Celestial||1998|
|Organic Cow of Vermont||Horizon||1999|
|Orville Redenbacher’s Organic||ConAgra||2005|
|Peet’s Coffee & Tea||Sara Lee/JAB/D.E. MasterBlenders||2011|
|Plum Organic Baby Food||Campbells||2013|
|Pria Grain Essentials||Nestle||2006|
|Rice Dream (Imagine)||Hain Celestial||2002|
|Santa Cruz Organic||J.M. Smucker Co||1989|
|Seeds of Change||M&M Mars||1997|
|Silk||White Wave Foods||2013|
|Soy Dream (Imagine)||Hain Celestial||2002|
|Spectrum Organics||Hain Celestial||2005|
|Walnut Acres||Hain Celestial||2003|
|Wholesome & Hearty||Kellogg||2007|
|Wholesome Sweetners||Arlon Group||2012|
|Willamette Valley Granola||Post/Hearthside||2011|
|Wolfgang Puck Soup||Campbell Soup||2008|
Now for the good news! There are some companies who are holding strong. We need to do our best to support their efforts. Here’s the list:
• Clif Bar
• Let’s Do Organic
• Native Forest
• Nature Factor
• Pure Bar
• Que Pasa
• Road’s End Organic
• Yogi Tea
***If we’ve missed anyone, please let us know. The information we’ve collected on all of the companies for this post was through public record and any errors in facts should be brought to our attention.