The Cornucopia Institute is a great organization that serves as a watchdog for the term “Organic” (among other things). They have been rating organic farms for years, and by doing so they have influenced my decision to not only buy organic, but to preferentially buy organic dairy with Horizon Foods, as my last choice.
Though this is not a “gang up on Horizon Foods” sprout, I want to draw attention to this recently published rating guide of the dairy based organic farms. As you review the guide, you will notice that Organic Valley (you can buy their produce here in our Kroger and Publix stores, but they are not stocked heavily in either). And we have access to Whole Foods (365 Organic) and Stonyfield Farms yogurt products here in GA (All three of these producers are ranked 4 out of 5 on their cow maintenance and treatment scale).
So why the concern, why the ratings? Recently I came in contact with a conventional farmer who conveyed that he felt organic was a false label. That there was no way to really do organic. I chalk up most of that belief to frustration over the effort to become a true organic farm, and the statements of attestation that are included with fact based history. Together they will yield an organic designation, but portions of their application can be fudged. This farmers disgruntlement spells a clear concern over how well maintained these farms are.
Well back to Horizon (and I do buy Horizon organic when it is the only organic available, I simply prefer not to); they were recently bought by Dean Foods. One of the largest food producing companies in our country. Hard to believe that this company, who we rarely hear about, is so huge. Land o Lakes is theirs, Borden, their own name brand where I come from (known for their french onion dip), and here in our area… Mayfield. This company is huge, and now they own Horizon, who received 0 out of 5 on the cornucopia rankings.
They recently picked up another company, Organic Cow. Located in Texas not far from Horizon Foods. My concern is with this type of growth, they become a huge marketing machine, which is all it takes. Though several hundred will read this, several thousand more will be privy to the pressure of the market. Before you know it, the companies with the worst organic ratings, will be the top producers across the board.
If you browse the cow ratings, you can click through the farms and learn about some pretty cool farmers. One such farm is this cool company that specializes in pasture butter for those high end consumers. If you have read the recent posts on pasture butter, and CLA, then you know how I feel about it. It is serious stuff. Will have a significant impact on your overall health over time. Animal Farm – they are located in Vermont, and the pictures on their site suggest that they love their cows. That is a nice image. A Farmer who loves the animals that they raise to produce your food.
So I want to leave you with this. It all matters, don’t get caught up in it, but get settled on the idea that this is worth a little of your time to learn more. Makeover night, Monday December 12th, will start that extra learning for you!
Be well and healthy! – Dr. E