The Layout of the Organic Foods Industry

It’s early Friday morning.  I’m checking out my facebook and come across something about organic foods.  Hmmmm . . . there’s a lot of information here.  All graphically demonstrated.  This is like one of those “Where’s Waldo” things.  Well I don’t see Waldo, but I see a lot of somewhat disturbing data.

I spent some time following the arrows and learning what companies actually own some of my favorite natural food brands.  These are big organizational boards showing the layout of the natural/organic foods industry.  Very interesting data and plenty of it, but it is–at least for me–unevaluated data at this point.

Although I must say, my emotional response to the fact that an organic food manufacturer like Seeds of Change is owned by M&M Mars is that it makes my heart sink to the ground.  Some of the others don’t surprise me as much and I make a quick and loose observation, “No wonder some of these so-called natural products have sugar and other weird ingredients in them.”

I am soothed to know that Lundberg, Eden, Amy’s and Frontier are still independent.  I wonder, “But for how long?”

My friend who posted these commented that it may be more and more important to grow your own food.  She is probably right but I don’t think that is a total solution.  I think we have to be vigilant about label-reading and continue to refuse to purchase pretend natural food products and demand high-quality selections from our stores.

Is it important when organic food companies are bought out by huge conglomerate corporations that also manufacture the very foods we are trying to get away from?

Organic food product labels

Organic foods acquisitions

Top 30 Food Processors

Acquisitions by the Top 30

Top Brands that are still Independent

Organic Gardening: Grow It, Pick It, Eat It

Young beans

Young beans (Photo credit: Nick Saltmarsh)

What better way would there be to get fresh, succulent organic vegetables than growing them yourself in your own garden?  Picture it:  you go out to your garden and there are your favorite vegetables at the peak of perfection and ready to be picked.  They have the best flavor, the most beautiful color and man, oh, man are they alive!

Just looking at these beauties sparks your desire and creativity for cooking today’s food, all the while knowing that you have the most nutritious, freshest and highest quality food at your fingertips.

Organic gardening is certainly a different way of growing things because, as you know, you aren’t going to use chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.  All the better for the environment, the soil, and the health of you and your loved ones.  But more than that, organic gardening includes restoring your soil so it is healthy and full of minerals, knowing which insects you want and which ones you don’t (and how to get rid of the “don’ts”) and how to recycle organic materials for making compost.  For that you might want to look for a good Organic Gardening book.

Organic gardening is a lot of fun and it’s a great way to get outdoors and be more physically active now that spring is here and summer is around the corner.  I once had an organic garden in which I dug up most of my back yard to build.  I made a double-dug garden in a spiral shape which gave me lots and lots of space to plant a very wide variety of vegetables and the spiral made a convenient walkway for us to get around to every plant and care for it.

We had tons of food and our grocery bills were way down during those years.  Organic gardening is definitely a money saving venture.  I also learned a lot about how things grow and why I should love ladybugs even more than I already did.  I had, for instance, huge brussel sprout plants.  I didn’t even like brussel sprouts until I grew them organically.  Mine tasted better than any I had ever been served anywhere.  No kidding.

Simple Brussel Sprouts Saute

I would just pick them fresh, wash them and trim the stem end if necessary.  (By the way, it often wasn’t necessary because when you bring in something fresh from your garden, it hasn’t had time to dry out or get tough.)  Slice the brussel sprouts in half lengthwise and if they are a little large, slice the stem end vertically just about a quarter of an inch in so it will cook in about the same time as the rest of the sprout.  Heat up a heavy pan with some olive oil and throw in the brussel sprouts.  Saute them with some sea salt and pepper if you wish and really, any other herb or seasoning you think will be good.  I like to add in some crushed garlic because that’s my favorite.  When the brussel sprouts are tender but no mushy, they are done.  Serve them like they are or garnish them with something toasted such as toasted light or black sesame seeds.  Mmmmm!

Unfortunately I do not still have that big spiral-shaped garden.  But that’s okay if you are like me and don’t even have a back yard!  Organic gardening can be done in containers, in a community garden that promotes organic growing practices or, you can grow indoors too!