Why Silk Soy Milk's Parent Company is Throwing American Farmers and Consumers Under the Bus
August 04, 2009
Even as demand for organic food continues to explode, organic farmers in America may not see the profits. The Chinese are taking over market share, especially of vegetables and agricultural commodities like soy, thanks to several American-based multinational food corporations that have hijacked the organic bandwagon.
When multinational corporation Dean Foods acquired Silk soy milk, Midwestern farmers and farmers cooperatives were told they had to match the rock-bottom cost of Chinese organic soybeans -- a price they simply could not meet. Organic agriculture is labor-intensive, and China's edge comes largely from its abundance of cheap labor.
Silk bought Chinese soybeans for years, building a commanding share of the soy milk market, before substantially decreasing its support of organic agriculture altogether.
Few Silk products are certified organic anymore, and some are processed with hexane, a neurotoxin. While the green "USDA Organic" seal is gone, hexane-processed soymilk can still be labeled "natural," and if it contains organic ingredients, the label "made with organic ingredients" is still used.
Consumers buy organic for several reasons, including lighter environmental impact, cleaner and safer working conditions for farmworkers and the health benefits of organic foods. Unfortunately, the import-fueled corporatization of questionably organic food is making all of these attributes less likely.