Here’s a useful (and for some, shocking) chart, showing corporate ownership of organic food producers.
It’s a visual explanation of why buying organic does not necessarily mean you’re escaping the corporatized food system and striking a blow for the little guy.
So if we thought that picking up items produced by seemingly independent organic food producers constituted ‘fighting the good fight’, we need to think again.
This is not to say there are not still some holdouts. Some organic food producers have resisted buyout offers—often quite substantial offers—and deserve support. You can see who those are (or were as of 2009) here.
The bottom line is this: we cannot use a word, or a series of words, as a shortcut to mean ‘healthful’ or ‘non-corporate’ or ‘good for the biosphere’ or ‘sustainable’ any of the other convenient shortcuts.
Knowing who produces your food personally (ideally, one of the people on this list will be ‘myself’; farmer’s markets and CSAs are the next best bet) is by far your best bet.
Until we’re prepared—as communities and municipalities—to take back local ownership of food production, and to give up simplistic notions about government-regulated words substituting for relationships, we remain at the mercy of, and firmly in support of, these food system conglomerates.
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Oz Osborn is a dedicated yogi and Vipassana meditator, an engineer whose passion and focus is ecological sustainability, and finding genuinely green ways to address the daunting environmental challenges we face in these thoroughly unsustainable and greenwashed times.
~Edited by Jill Barth.