A win for the organic movement

There’s good news for organic consumers coming out of Ohio recently. The State of Ohio has agreed that it will no longer pursue enacting a rule that would have limited labeling on organic dairy products. Our hope is that this outcome sends a message to other states that might consider similar anti-consumer labeling restrictions.

The Ohio decision follows a federal appeals court decision a year ago which reversed an Ohio regulation that would have severely restricted the organic milk industry’s ability to make clear claims about the composition of its milk. Specifically, Ohio had attempted to prohibit organic dairy producers from informing consumers, through product labels, that organic dairy products are produced without antibiotics, pesticides or synthetic hormones.

Ohio has now agreed to abandon the rule, reinforcing the federal appeals court’s finding that the First Amendment allows organic dairy producers to proudly state that their products are produced without antibiotics, pesticides or synthetic hormones. The court ruled in response to an appeal by organic milk processors on behalf of the entire organic community.

This decision is a clear win for the organic movement, and for consumers who want and deserve to know what it is and isn’t in the products they are purchasing.

Horizon is proud to be a member of the Organic Trade Association (OTA) which led the three-year fight against Ohio’s proposed labeling restrictions. Horizon, along with several other organic dairy companies, collaborated with the OTA over the past year in negotiation efforts that led to this decision.

At WhiteWave, we strongly believe that consumers have a right to make informed purchasing decisions. This victory in Ohio will help ensure that consumers in Ohio can continue to look to labels to learn how their dairy products are produced.

We all deserve the right to know what’s in our food

The average grocery store stocks about 45,000 different products. That sounds like a lot of choice, certainly, but when it comes to one of most important choices of all – whether to choose food without genetically engineered (GE) ingredients – American consumers are still in the dark.

Although we require food manufacturers to list every ingredient in their products, we don’t require labeling to note whether those products contain genes from another plant or animal. According to a 2010 poll from Thomson Reuters, 93 percent of Americans want to see that policy changed. As a concerned father of three kids and the head of one of the country’s largest organic and natural brands, Silk, I am one of those Americans, and believe that the FDA should require the labeling of all products containing GE ingredients.

October is Non-GMO Month, making it the perfect time to elevate this issue and ensure consumers understand what’s at stake, what needs to change and how we can influence this change.

Many consumers may be surprised to learn that 80 percent of all processed foods contain ingredients created through genetic engineering. These processes combine the genetic code of different species to produce new food products like strawberries with flounder genes and corn that kills insects on its own. Because there is no requirement to label GE foods, these products look identical to their non-GE counterparts on grocery store shelves. Unless you purchase only organic food products, which under USDA standards can’t contain GE ingredients, there is no way to know whether the items in your shopping cart contain GE ingredients.

That should rightly concern many of us given the fact that GE foods carry documented health risks, including reproductive, immune, gastrointestinal and organ problems. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine is so concerned that it has encouraged all physicians to prescribe non-GMO diets to their patients, and the European Union, Japan and Australia all require labeling of GE products.

It’s time for the FDA to take action to require the mandatory labeling of GE foods. Consumers deserve the right to know what they’re eating and feeding their families, along with more control over their purchasing decisions.

To that end, we at Silk have partnered with hundreds of other businesses and organizations, including our sister company Horizon Organic, to pledge our support of the Just Label It! – We Have a Right to Know campaign. The campaign is focused on seeking consumer support for a petition to the FDA to require the mandatory labeling of GE foods.

In addition, earlier this month, concerned citizens and organizations also made their voices heard on this issue with the Right2Know March, a 16-day walk from New York City to the White House in support of a government-backed GE labeling standard.

These efforts are a great start in the fight for mandatory labeling of GE ingredients but the process may take a long time. So many of us in the organic and natural foods community are working to help consumers have more control now by enrolling our products in the Non-GMO Project, a multi-stakeholder collaboration committed to preserving and building sources of non-GMO products, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO choices. To date, more than 900 products, including all Silk beverage products, have been verified through the program and carry the Non-GMO Project verification seal.

The work being done by companies like mine is starting to move the needle, but consumers hold the real key to change. In addition to purchasing products with The Non-GMO Project seal, they can visit  www.justlabelit.org and submit a comment in support of the mandatory labeling of GE ingredients. They can also support the cause by becoming educated on the issue and discussing it with friends, families and colleagues. The fastest route to bringing more choice to our grocery aisles is through the collective voice and purchasing power we hold as consumers.

The latest U.S. food trends

Recently, the NPD Group released their 26th annual report on Eating Patterns in America.  Created by nationally recognized food expert Harry Balzer, the Eating Patterns in America report examines food and beverage consumption in-home and away-from-home and addresses health and nutrition, demographic shifts and the economic factors driving consumption.

As dry as that sounds, I’m always intrigued by the nuggets of information that come out of these annual report about what we, as U.S. consumers, are eating and our attitudes about food.

This year, I thought one of the more interesting tidbits was that nearly every American household now reports buying produce from a farmer’s market at least once a year. Room for improvement, but still, a pretty good indicator that more Americans are at least trying to support local farmers and farmers markets.

The report also showed that more of us are “buying” health in a pill.  More U.S. consumers are taking vitamins, mineral supplements or dietary aids on a daily basis than ever before. In fact, 54 percent of respondents reported using these products. That may also account for the rapid success and sustained growth of Horizon Organic’s milk enhanced with plant-based, vegetarian DHA-Omega 3.  Why not kill two birds with one stone – drink your milk AND feed your body a valuable nutrient that may help support brain, heart and eye health?

And finally, if you’re interested, here are some of the foods and beverages that U.S. consumers ate more of in 2010 than ever before:

  • Pizza
  • Fruit
  • Salty Snacks
  • Yogurt
  • Breakfast Sandwiches
  • Hot Cereal
  • Iced Tea

I have to admit, I’m pretty sure I contributed to the uptick in pizza consumption….

Help support farmers, by helping Horizon Organic celebrate its 20th…

This Friday, Horizon Organic celebrates its 20th anniversary. Why not wish them a happy 20th, and support one of our favorite partners, Farm Aid, at the same time?

Horizon Organic celebrates 20 years


A right to know

At WhiteWave, we believe people deserve to have a choice when it comes to food. Which is why throughout October, we’re supporting a variety of activities aimed at growing awareness around GMOs. One such activity is the Right2Know March, which kicked off in New York at the beginning of the month, and is now making it’s way along the East coast, set to finish up in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, October 16. The March itself is just one of the ways people are working to raise awareness around the issue of GMOs, and the call for mandatory labeling so that people can truly have a choice when it comes to food.

Check out these links for more info on the Right2Know March, and all the other activities going on this month. And stay tuned to The Grazing Mind for a full recap of the Right2Know March from our very own Kelly Shea, who’s slated to speak as part of the closing ceremonies in Washington this weekend.

Got DHA?

We do! And thank goodness. Here’s what we know about it:

– The form of DHA in Horizon products has been used without any safety concerns in foods in Europe since 1993 and in foods in the U.S. since 2002.

– DHA is used in nearly 100 percent of infant formulas and in 500 food and supplement products around the world.

– Regulatory agencies worldwide, including the FDA, have extensively reviewed on numerous occasions the safety of the same DHA used in Horizon products and all agree with the conclusion that these ingredients are safe for use.

– Numerous health organizations worldwide, such as the World Health Organization and American Dietetic Association, have recommend that DHA be included in infant formula, while organizations like the European Food Safety Authority and March of Dimes have set recommended intake levels of DHA for pregnant women, children and adults.

– The DHA Horizon uses in its products has been evaluated for more than 15 years in over 100 pre-clinical studies, and in over 100 human clinical studies, 31 of which involved infants. These pre-clinical and clinical studies create an impressive database that establishes the safety of DHA.

– A large and growing body of evidence demonstrates that DHA Omega-3 is important for supporting brain, heart and eye health at every stage of life. In fact, Horizon organic milk with DHA is an excellent way for families to get much-needed DHA. Many Americans, especially children, don’t get enough DHA in their diets.

– The DHA used in Horizon products neither contains nor is made with hexane, a chemical solvent sometimes used to extract oils from their original source. Horizon’s DHA is a 100% vegetarian, sustainable source of DHA made from algal oil.

– Horizon products fortified with DHA are not made or processed with genetically-modified ingredients. The use of GMO ingredients is not permitted in organics.

– And we offer a choice. Consumers can purchase Horizon Organic Milk with Omega-3 DHA… or without. Both are clearly labeled.

We are proud to offer DHA in a number of our Horizon products. We agree with what the FDA, the World Health Organization, the American Dietetic Association and the growing body of scientific evidence says about DHA – it’s safe, it’s healthy, and it’s an important nutrient.

Just Label It!

Yep. 93% of Americans think genetically engineered (GE) foods should be labeled. We agree, and that’s why we’ve teamed up with a whole host of other like-minded companies and organizations to launch the Just Label It! campaign; a initiative designed to advocate for the labeling of GE foods.

“We hope to raise awareness of this issue, drive consumers to submit comments to the FDA and let Washington know that Americans want labeling of genetically engineered foods.”

Check out the site, and sign the petition today!

FDA 2011-P-0723