Who Actually Owns Your Favorite Organic Brands

By Mike Pomranz |

© RosaBetancourt 0 people images / Alamy

According to a 2014 Gallup poll, 45 percent of Americans were “actively” trying to include organic brands in their diets last year. So it shouldn’t come as a shock to hear that organic food sales now bring in $32 billion in annual revenue. Organic food is big business, and with that much money on the table, large corporations want to get in on the action.

To shed some light on the ties between some well-known organic brands and the larger corporations that own them, the Washington Post took research from Phil Howard of Michigan State University and put together an interactive graphic featuring 92 organic names you might recognize from store shelves. Set up like a slightly sardonic Jeopardy! board, you can simply hover your cursor over the brand name to uncover where your organic-laced money actually ends up. For example, fans of Annie’s Homegrown Mac and Cheese have been feeding the beast at General Mills since 2014, and Kellogg has sold you meatless chicken nuggets under the Morningstar Farms label since 1999.

Now, simply having major corporate backing doesn’t necessarily make these brands any less “organic.” But as Howard pointed out to the Post, “Some of these big companies go out of their way to hide their ties to the organic labels…. They know that consumers tend to be skeptical of the corporations, that a person who buys organic is often someone looking for an alternative to conventional food.” 

It brings the discussion back around to why people buy organic. If you’re trying to eat healthier or help the environment, in theory, the owner of the brand you purchase doesn’t matter. However, if you’re looking to help support smaller, forward-thinking companies instead of mega-corporations, you may want to scratch beneath the surface before you buy. You can check out the whole interactive board here.

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