Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Is Out-Of-Control Capitalism Killing Us All?

Over at AlterNet I was dismayed to read that products I had used, trusted and valued had been bought out by megacorporations in the last few years and yep, you guessed it, their organic ingredients had been modified or radically changed. Here was I, happily blundering along, thinking I was buying food for my table and products for my hair and face that were part of green conscious living. I was stooged.

And all the while, the behemoth corporation that had quietly bought these formerly small, organic little operations remained anonymous.

Reason? You need to ask? You think they were getting more socially responsible?

Sorry to disappoint – no, the only reason was so that huge profits could be reaped from the consumer who thought she was buying local, pure, organic ingredients.

The following is a partial listing of products and the giant corporations owning them.

Some are quite astonishing - imagine the biggest toxic chemical polluter, Clorox, owning Burt’s Bees?


Burt’s Bees----------------------->Clorox


The Body Shop--------------------->L’Oreal & Nestle

Tom’s of Maine-------------------->Colgate Palmolive

Odwalla Fresh Juices-------------->Coca-Cola

Most bottled water---------------->Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Nestle
And this is a whole category unto itself. Most ‘brands’ are tap water and actually less healthy than what you can get out of your own tap. And think landfill.

Kashi cereals--------------------->Kellogg’s

Quaker Oats----------------------->Pepsi

Green & Black’s organic

Was ever a word more perverted than the word ‘organic’?

And oh yes, adding his wise words to this profiteering fest: Lee Scott, former CEO of Wal-Mart, said, "We are particularly excited about organic food, the fastest-growing category in all of food."

And somehow it all reminds me of the Electric Car and its killing:


  1. lots of blame to go around including the small organic businesses that sold out to thee big corps. I wasn't aware that Quaker Oats was a small organic business . been using that product for over 60 years.

  2. wait, wait---did burt's bees ALTER its ingredients? or just sell the business? same question re tom's of maine.

    i don't care so much who gets the profits (because i trust no one, including whoever started burt's bees and tom's of maine). but i don't want them to mess with the recipe.

    you're right about the perversion of the word "organic." the definition has some technical boundary that allows companies to include things that aren't organic. go figure.

  3. I'm not familiar with most of the small business names you listed, Quaker Oats is the only one I know. Thankfully there's not a lot they can do to spoil that product. I do appreciate the point you're making though, WWW.

    Independent companies sell out rather than struggle and go under, I can't see a remedy, this is the future, I guess. Sad.

    I agree about "organic" too. I don't like the way writers and speakers sometimes use it nowadays to describe stuff other than food either. In many instances it becomes quite meaningless.

  4. Too bad about the electric car. It seems it really had a future. Still, there is the generating of the electricity, which we now have problems with.

    We are getting some of ours from Sweden and they have a nuclear plant to generate electricity with.

    We can't build enough windmills and tide generated electricity plants aren't being built fast enough, don't ask me why this is. Someone is laying down on the job.

    All houses should come standard with solar panels; what a waste of slanted roofs! The government should be actively pursuing these options and give incentives to people who implement them. Major subsidies should be paid. It's a crying shame.

  5. @GFB:
    The corporations force the small companies off the shelves and they can't afford the distributions costs and then they buy them up.
    You got it. They replaced the pure ingredients with flavenoids and petroleum products. Flavenoids are polluting everything.
    Again, the same situation, the governments who are elected to protect us protect the corporations instead. Michael Pollan has written extensively on this.
    As usual, follow the money. If we all had solar and wind the mighty power companies would be destitute (a very good thing).Nuclear power, well managed, is not necessarily a bad thing. Disposal of waste can be dealt with safely.

  6. I've been watching these stealthy acquisitions of small, worthy companies for a while. I guess the motto is, never mind the fashionable brand name, what's in the list of ingredients?

  7. it is incredibly depressing -it's hard not to be totally disillusioned isn't it - still it just means we have to try harder I guess.

  8. Nick:
    Yes caveat emptor applies to all these 'trusted' little companies, doesn't it?

  9. Conor:
    Yes, as long as we're aware, we can't suffer too much at the hands of these mega frankenfooders.

  10. yep this is depressing stuff and makes one incredibly cynical. I have great skepticism about organic in so many areas, it is often misrepresented and unless you can trace it back - farm to fork as it were - ask questions. It's not just the ingredients that are important, it's the corporate ethic underlying it. Look at Nestle - I have been actively avoiding their products since the original boycott following the Baby Food Scandals exposed in the late 70s where they promoted breastmilk substitutes to the detriment of infant health in developing countries like Bangladesh. We have to stay aware of corporate greed and do our bit. Body Shop was a real let down, Anita Roddick must have been very naive to think she could have major influence on L'Oreal's practices like animal testing and of course now she's dead that is probably gone too. Ethical investing has to be in everyday groceries too, or shop local and keep the airmiles down. Or grow your own and make jam and cakes. I love to do that, when I have time.

  11. They should stop selling shares if they don't want the big sharks to eat them up with a takeover.

    A most disillusiong list WWW, but few things surprise me any more, sadly.

  12. Catherine:
    And the 100 mile rule is being applied by a lot of aware people here, i.e. it has to be made/grown/manufactured within 100 miles of your house. Hard to follow but worth it. We haven't paid the real price for anything in ages and we need to start!!

  13. Laura:
    I didn't thing it had gone this far, being honest, especially especially especially Burt's Bees!!

  14. And another illusion bites the dust. Organic my arse. I'm also noticing that some of the big guys are selling so-called Fair Trade products - coffee, bananas, etc. The cynic in me is wondering how much I can trust that label too.

  15. Tessa:
    If you ready Michael Pollan you'll see how the word 'organic' has been so compromised by Big Farm (along with Big Pharm)with the collusion of Big Gov (read pimp).


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