Went to a natural-foods industry trade show yesterday, which was as enlightening as always. Found lots of new things to love: Wonderfully Raw (http://wonderfullyrawgourmet.com/) Brussels Bytes “chips” were absolutely delicious; Mr. Dewies’s frozen cashew cream (http://mrdewies.com/) was amazing, virtually indistinguishable from high-end dairy ice cream, and the first rival I’ve found to SoDelicious chocolate coconut milk frozen dessert; Sukhi’s frozen Indian food, which is what’s served at Whole Foods in some markets. Renewed acquaintances with vendors I have seen and products I have known and trusted for years: Flamous chips, the original hummus and falafel chips(http://www.flamousbrands.com/about.html); Rumiano cheeses, the first non-GMO verified organic cheese http://www.rumianocheese.com.html] (met the son this year-fourth generation dairy farmer/manufacturer!). Like most of the shows, though, the dominant themes seemed to be gluten-free but refined-carb-heavy snacks, and gourmet chocolates and ice creams.
A friend who attended with me commented that she had not seen Kashi, Food Should Taste Good, and several other prominent “healthy” brands there, though Kraft had a table. She was surprised when I told her that Kellogs owns Kashi and General Mills bought Food Should Taste Good in 2012. (seehttp://grocerystoreguru.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/general-mills-buys-food-should-taste-good-leaves-bad-taste-in-my-mouth/.) Kraft bought Back to Nature a few years ago but has since sold off everything but the macaroni and cheese, so those products are independent again. A simple list of who owns the brands you buy is at http://simplifymyfoodchoices.com/organic-natural-brands.html. Revealing read for some.
The “Food CHAIN” link at the top of the entry connects to a brand diagram that displays the logo family tree. The important thing here is to recognize that company values, hence product quality and more, direct distribution and product development. Over and over I have seen really great products brought to market, become successful, get bought out, then be re-developed to be more cost effective, mass-market friendly, etc. Inevitably the end result is less than it’s original customers wanted. One of my biggest disappointments in recent years was the acquisition of Liberte yogurt by Yoplait(http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/863347). I had the same response as this writer when I took a mouthful of the coconut after reformulation-thought I had gotten a bad batch until I read the label. AARGHH!
So what? So know who’s making your food, and check labels periodically for ingredient changes. Sugar is cheaper than unrefined sweeteners and real fruit, so it’s often one of the first additions. Refined starches are often added to “whole grain” items. Make a shift to value-based eating, supporting local farms, family restaurants, and small, independent manufacturers. They will likely be more expensive, but local company profits are staying nearby, and smaller companies will pay attention to what is important to you. This is a perfect example of “putting your money where your mouth is!” If you only support national brands, you are chained to their values, which are committed to the bottom line of their stockholders. (As they should be-I am not anti-capitalism!) I want to be connected to like-minded people, committed to strengthening the health and well-being of my body, my family, my community, and my planet. Join me!