Originally published April 9 2015
Big Food corporations adopt small business disguises to trick consumers
by Julie Wilson staff writer
(NaturalNews) Next time you're feeling good about yourself for choosing a local mom and pop eatery over a big chain restaurant like Olive Garden or Red Lobster, you may want to do a little leg work first. While smaller, independently owned restaurants are known for their locally sourced ingredients and an overall vibe that screams "better-quality food and drinks," they may not all be what they seem.
With more and more consumers turning toward healthier, whole and non-GMO foods, Big Food has cleverly begun masquerading itself as independent, locally owned brands through food products and even restaurants. The latter of which is a relatively new technique.
An article posted by The Associated Press describes a taco shop in Southern California that features milkshakes sold in mason jars and a menu item called "The 1%er" made with lobster meat. Instead of issuing typical buzzers, U.S. Taco Co. gives customers license plates, allowing servers to identify where orders go.
With all of its trendy touches, you'd probably never guess they're owned by Taco Bell. By masking their world-famous logos, large food companies have found yet another way to trick customers (especially teens or those in their 20s and 30s) into buying their GMO-ridden foods.
Big Food acquires "organic" brands in an attempt to reach younger consumers looking for cleaner food
Another way the food industry is inserting itself into the healthy food movement is through the acquisition of organic brands. For example, last year General Mills bought out Annie's Homegrown, a California-based maker of natural and organic food, for $820 million. General Mills insists they've "admired" Annie's for many years and will continue to maintain the brand's high-quality products; however, those claims yet remain to be validated.
Aside from acquiring popular organic brands, Big Food is also notorious for launching their own "organic" products that are usually unnoticeably linked to the parent company. This practice is far less expensive than buying out other organic brands in an attempt to tap into current trends. It's also less risky, as it requires less of a financial investment.
Horizon Organic is the perfect example of an organic brand launched by Big Food. Ambitiously marketed as the "pioneer" of organic milk, Horizon Organic, formerly owned by Dean Foods, is hardly an honest "organic" brand, as they've repeatedly been accused of violating organic standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
"Ill-gotten gains" responsible for catapulting Horizon Organic into largest organic dairy brand
The Cornucopia Institute, an organic industry watchdog, claims that the practice of illegal techniques is the reason Horizon Organic has catapulted itself into the largest brand in the organic dairy sector.
Some of these illegal techniques include preventing cows from accessing green pastures for grazing in between milkings, as federal organic law requires. While Horizon Organic "reduced the number of cows it was managing, and added, for the first time, some amount of pasture, it also increased the number of times the cows were being milked from twice a day to three and even four times a day," reports Cornucopia.
"Properly managing an organic dairy farm by moving the herd to fresh pasture after each twice-per-day milking becomes more and more difficult as herd size gets larger," said Kevin Engelbert, a certified organic dairy farmer from Nichols, New York.
"If a farm gets to the point of milking thousands of cows, 24 hours a day, the logistics of getting the herd from the milking facility to fresh grass, legitimately grazing - as required by law - becomes impossible."
Through these illegal practices, Horizon Organic has been able to generate millions of dollars of "ill-gotten gains," as Cornucopia calls it, producing more milk than its competitors.
As Big Food becomes more clever at marketing GMOs to unsuspecting customers, it is now more than ever up to the consumer to stay informed and do their legwork in order to avoid such traps.
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