Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My Lip Balm is owned by Clorox

I won't allow Clorox in my house, let alone on my face. Now, of course, I am not literally putting bleach on my lips, but I am putting Burt's Bees there, and they are owned by Clorox.

After my bottled water rant, I realized that I had not checked up on my organic food companies in a while to see who had been bought out by whom. For instance, I knew that Cascadian Farms was owned by General Mills and Boca was owned by Kraft which is, in turn, owned by Phillip Morris, but I figured that things had probably changed a bit since I last checked in.

I made a quick pass through my kitchen and bathroom and wrote down the brands I have. I then checked through a few sources to see who I was actually giving my money to.

Tom's of Maine: Colgate
Bearitos: Hain Celestial Food Group
Burt's Bees: AEA Investors (Clorox)
Avalon Organics: Hain
Westbrae: Hain
Muir Glen: General Mills
Santa Cruz: Smuckers
Spectrum Naturals: Hain
Celestial Seasonings: Hain
Kashi: Kellogg
Rudy's Organic Bakery: Charter Baking Company
Barbara's Bakery: Weetabix
Seeds of Change: M&M Mars
Annies: Solera Capital

I am still looking into:
Dr. Haushka (I believe this is a German nonprofit)
Country Choice Organic
Republic of Tea
Good Karma

These guys seem to still own themselves:
Aura Cacia: Frontier Co-op
Frontier: Frontier Co-op
Pacific Natural Foods
Newman's Own
Eden Organics
Cliff/Luna Bars

Other companies still unsullied by takeovers:
Organic Valley
Seventh Generation
Peace Cereal

It's not easy to shop. Now I have more decisions to make and questions to ask about certain products.

1. Is there a locally produced, independently-owned alternative?
2. Can I make it myself?
3. How much do I love the product?
4. How nefarious do I find the controlling interest or parent company?
5. Do I even need this thing?

In many cases, I do have alternatives. We get our organic milk from a local farm in returnable bottles. There's a great salsa company just down the street. We joined an organic CSA for the upcoming season. I can get a lot of locally produced, organic, bulk grains from the co-op and make certain things. I make my toothpowder. There are other organic seed companies. We get our coffee from Peace Coffee.

It just adds one more level of awareness to my shopping habits and opens up new areas where I can improve what I do in our home. It reminds me of how far away we are from our food. Do I really want beans and tomatoes in cans? Sure, it's convenient, but there's bisphenol-A in the lining of over half the cans of food out there, and that's a chemical that mimics estrogen and can lead to reproductive impairment (this chemical is in the plastics of many water bottles as well). Yum!

I know that I can't be perfect in all things, but I can be better. The first step is always finding the information, and passing it on.

Organic Industry July 2007
Organic Industry January 2008
List from Seventh Generation
Organic Investors July 2007
Hain Celestial Food Group

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