Tomorrow, Washington state voters will gather to decide, among other things, whether or not the GMO labeling measure will be put into place. (If you need a refresher, here’s why we definitely need a “yes” vote on this matter.) The voting takes place amid recent controversy and legal action against anti-labeling funders concerning where more than $7 million of anti-labeling funding was sourced. Many companies donated under a general Grocery Manufacturers Association fund, when individual donor information should have been supplied.
Now, you may be surprised to know this isn’t the only situation where company ties aren’t as transparent as we all might like. “Big Food,” or those few companies that actually own most of everything you buy (surprisingly enough, even a lot of the organic stuff), often do not reveal any of its larger ownership connections on food labels or even product web sites, thus leaving consumers to figure out who really owns their food.
Check out this chart, updated in May of this year, created by Phil Howard, an associate professor in the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University .
Were you aware that Mars, Inc., the company that owns GMO-filled foods like M&M’s and Snickers, also owns Seeds of Change, a line of organic seeds, herbs and flowers?
Nestle, the company that brings us Kit Kat bars and Hot Pockets, also owns Sweet Leaf Tea, a company that proclaims that “Every bottle of homemade goodness starts with Granny’s original recipe.” Tell that to Big Food!
Coca-Cola owns Honest Tea and Odwalla, and Pepsi owns Naked Juice. All “organic” and “natural” companies.
General Mills owns Larabar and Cascadian Farm.
And did you know Kellogg, the maker of toxic Special K foods, owns Morningstar Farms, Bear Naked and Kashi?
Beyond this information about organic and natural brands, it’s been said that 10 large corporations own most everything you buy – extending beyond food to personal care products and clothing.
When we consider that many of these companies (including Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Kellogg, General Mills, and Nestle) have all contributed, and gave money to anti-GMO labeling initiatives including the I-522 vote in Washington, the puzzle pieces begin to come together. The same people touting the unhealthiest sodas and candies on earth are making your cereal and soy milk. While it’s true that the organic brands are still held to organic standards, we still should be careful about the companies we ultimately support with our dollars.
We should all get to know Big Food at a deeper level – and be aware of how it all fits together in the greater scheme of regulation battles like the current fight to label GMOs. Keep your eyes wide open and your wallets a little less so!