Sunday, July 5, 2009

Natural vs Organic, There is a BIG difference!

Organic Bytes #180, Health, Justice and Sustainability News from the Organic Consumers Association

Who’s Killing Organics?
July 1, 2009

Horizon Sells Out Organic Farmers With New "Natural" Milk

Dean Foods' WhiteWave division has announced it will release a new non-organic "natural" version of its popular Horizon dairy products. Horizon is the largest organic dairy brand in the marketplace, and many consumers will likely alternatively purchase the Horizon "natural (conventional)” brand at a premium and at a time when organic dairy farmers are already experiencing record losses.

Dean Foods, the organic industry’s largest name brand manufacturer and agribusiness giant intends to create and entirely new, lower-priced product category called “natural dairy” aimed squarely at pirating away organic customers. If successful, Dean, the largest milk processor in the United States will add to the pain many organic farmers are feeling due to decreased sales caused by the recession.

Dean’s Longmont, Colorado division which controls Horizon, Organic Cow, Silk and other brands has launched their organic alternative “natural” label at a time when industry sales have flattened after averaging 20% per year growth rates for more than a decade. Many family farmers now producing organic milk are now facing financial ruin.

This move comes shortly after Dean’s recent decision to use “natural” (e.g. conventional) soybeans in their previously organic Silk soymilk line. The “natural” Silk products have the same appearance and product codes and also the same price. Many retailers and consumers around the country were outraged to find that their favorite organic brand had been switched to conventional somewhat clandestinely. As a result, some retailers have dropped the Silk products.

Dean is handling the “natural” Horizon label a bit differently than they handled their switch to non-organic Silk products. They are claiming that the “natural” Horizon products will be easier on the pocketbook. Many consumers do not understand green terminology and prefer the word “natural” over the word “organic”, thinking that organic is an unregulated marketing buzzword that means the product is more expensive. In reality, the opposite is true. “Natural” is an unregulated word. Organic foods must meet government standards in order to be certified.
Many of Dean’s competitors, including Organic Valley, the second-largest organic marketer, a farmer-owned cooperative, are exclusively organic. They will maintain the value and the reputation the organic label holds with their customers.

Breaking the Organic Monopoly and the "Natural" Foods MythWhole Food Market and United Natural Foods, Inc.: Undermining Our Organic Future

After 40 years of hard work, the organic community has built up a $25 billion "certified organic" food and farming sector. This consumer-driven movement, under steady attack by the biotech and Big Food lobby, with little or no help from government, has created a healthy and sustainable alternative to America's disastrous, chemical and energy-intensive system of industrial agriculture.

However, the annual $50 billion natural food and products industry is threatening to undermine the organic movement by flooding the marketplace with conventional products greenwashed with "natural" labeling. "Natural," in the overwhelming majority of cases, translates to "conventional-with-a-green-veneer." Natural products are routinely produced using pesticides, chemical fertilizer, hormones, genetic engineering, and sewage sludge. "Natural”, “all-natural" and "sustainable," products in most cases are neither backed up by rules and regulations, nor a Third Party certifier. These are label claims that are neither policed nor monitored. For an evaluation of eco-labels see the Consumers Union Eco-Label website.

For example:
* Tests Show Widespread Presence of GMOs in so-called "Natural" Foods.
* Dozens of "natural" and "made with organic" personal care and household cleaning products contain known carcinogens such as 1,4 Dioxane. Just about the only personal care products you can trust are those bearing the "USDA Organic" label.
* 90% or more of the vitamins and supplements now on the market labeled as "Whole Foods," "natural" or "food based" are spiked with synthetic chemicals.

Despite the massive popularity and demand for certified organic products, retailers like Whole Foods Market, and wholesalers like United Natural Foods Inc., continue to push "natural" products at a premium price, while, in effect slowing down the growth of organics with their near market monopoly. In fact, the majority of products sold and distributed by Whole Foods Market and UNFI are not certified organic, but rather so-called "natural." Meanwhile, independent and cooperative grocers often offer more certified organic products at competitive prices.

Contact Whole Foods Market and United Natural Foods Inc today and tell them that you will buy only certified organic products for you and your family.

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