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Every once in a while something triggers me to look up what company owns a certain food product. My latest research came about from a recent visit to Target. They had 'Back to Nature' granola on sale so I got a couple bags. It wasn't till after I got home that I realized it didn't say they were organic. I'm almost certain that other BTN products I've bought at Whole Foods were organic. I checked them out online. Turns out that BTN is owned by Kraft, which also owns BocaBurgers. That reminded me that Kashi is owned by Kellog's. Nestle owns Power Bars, and Danone has a majority ownership in Stonyfield Farms, which acquired Brown Cow yogurt about 3 years ago.

Soooo... what's my point? Oh yeah--- does who owns a company play any part in your purchases? I have to think the multinationals think so, else why not state right on the packages that they own certain brands? Does it matter? Should we care about such subterfuge, or that certain brands aren't the small, friendly-sounding companies they appear to be?

"Fat is money." (Per a cracklings maker shown on Dirty Jobs.)
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Remember that the "multinationals" provide the marketing power and distribution system to bring these products to your store efficiently and reasonably priced.

Moral or political considerations of practical matters can be inconvenient and costly. I'll tend to scew my purchases toward smaller or local companies, even if their products cost a bit more, but it's usually because of perceived quality issues.

SB (but, that's just me) :rolleyes:

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I do not think it makes a bit of difference, except to those that think "big business" is synonymous with evil.

Sure, Kellogg bought Kashi, great, it has been very successful for Kellogg and has vastly expanded the distribution of the Kashi products. Instead of having to go to GNC to buy it, it is now widely available. Same thing with Silk soy milk. Personally, I would not touch soy milk, but Silk is popular and until Dean Foods bought them, they were a tiny, barely distributed Colorado based company. Plus, Dean did the same thing Kellogg did, kept lead people behind the products.

As for not putting their name on it, sure, it is for marketing purposes, but so what as long as the product is good. If you think Kraft, you think cheese, so, why would they want to put their name on premium chocolate brands they own like Cote D'Or, or Toblerone. Plus, for Kraft, Cote D'Or or their other chocolate brand Milka, is sold in Europe, these are established European brands, the Kraft name need not be on there.

The information on the brands the major food companies own is widely available by the companies themselves, for those who find it important to know.

No, who a company is does not determine my purchasse. True, when the Soviet Union was still in existence, I would not buy or drink Stolichnaya, but that was the exception.

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My husband only recently tried Chipotle. He loved it. Then he found out they were owned by McDonalds and he was a bit crestfallen. We certainly don't go there as much. Also, Baja Fresh (another Mexican food chain) is owned by Wendy's I think. For some reason that doesn't bother him as much as the Chipotle connection...he's junk food prejudiced.

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My husband only recently tried Chipotle.  He loved it.  Then he found out they were owned by McDonalds and he was a bit crestfallen.  We certainly don't go there as much.

I'd no sooner argue about anyone's conscience than their religion or politics, but some arguments of this sort, (and I'm not even using this one as an example), remind me of the old expression, "cutting off your nose to spite your face."

There are plenty of things to be indignant about compare to things to enjoy, and life is short.

SB (who, for the record, may be the only living Amercian to never have eaten at MacDonalds) :cool:

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My husband only recently tried Chipotle.  He loved it.  Then he found out they were owned by McDonalds and he was a bit crestfallen.  We certainly don't go there as much.  Also, Baja Fresh (another Mexican food chain) is owned by Wendy's I think.  For some reason that doesn't bother him as much as the Chipotle connection...he's junk food prejudiced.

ahh, but another perspective to consider is that if Chipotle, which strives to serve slightly more healthful/interesting food than McD's is successful, it shows them that consumers will be willing to spend their dollars on something less banal. Big companies are all about profit, and if they can make a buck on healthful products, they'll bring more to market. My husband is currently consulting on some healthy snack products and the Big Boys are most certainly interested.

"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

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It used to be politically correct to be opposed to big business -- not because of any particularly well formulated argument, but mostly just because it was the hip thing to do. Now that PC-ness is becoming less fashionable, it is becoming equally "hip" to oppose this -- again, not as a result of a clear thought process, but just because it's kind of human nature to tire of such things... I don't think big business or giant, multi-national corporations are necessarily inherently evil -- but if you do, that's fine by me, because if nothing else, it does seem to be slightly less silly than being pro big business.

I've got two experiences with big business vs. small -- both beer related (how appropriate for a Friday). With the success of microbreweries in the US over the last decade, a lot of the big brewers realized that this was a market they wanted access to. One of the microbrews I bought, was Plank Road Brewery -- but when I realized it wasn't the quaint little outfit that the name seemed to indicate (it was Miller's), I quit buying it. It might seem like an idiotic thing to do, because price and taste had little to do with my decision -- I wanted to support microbreweries, so that we could get some diversity in our beer selection. Big brewers CAN make superb beer, but that is not their goal. Profit is their goal. Microbreweries want to make a profit too of course, but they are more geared towards making good beer, than the big ones.

Now, having said that, here's my second experience: Pete's Wicked Ale was very successful as a microbrewery, and one of their beers that I enjoyed, was their Summer Ale. But then I tasted it in a blind taste test, and found that I didn't like it (the test was drunk from a cup, but I'd normally drink it from a bottle, which doesn't allow you to smell it, and thus cuts down on what you taste from it)...

The conclusion: just like many people were fooled into drinking inferior Budweiser beer, by misleading "lifestyle"-ads, I had fooled myself into drinking something that really wasn't that good, simply because I opposed the big breweries. It can be quite hard to make a sensible, and informed choice, but I think it's worth trying to do so.

That being said, all other things being equal, I'd much, MUCH rather support a local mom & pop store, than a big corporation.

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I'd no sooner argue about anyone's conscience than their religion or politics, but some arguments of this sort, (and I'm not even using this one as an example), remind me of the old expression, "cutting off your nose to spite your face."

don't worry, i'm not taking it the wrong way...it isn't that he opposes junk food, he just doesn't like mcdonalds' food (if you can call it that).

alana (who, for the record, worked at mcdonalds during high school and ate there almost three meals a day for about a year) :cool:

p.s. sb, i enjoy the qualifiers along with your sig on every post! it keeps me entertained.

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ahh, but another perspective to consider is that if Chipotle, which strives to serve slightly more healthful/interesting food than McD's is successful, it shows them that consumers will be willing to spend their dollars on something less banal. Big companies are all about profit, and if they can make a buck on healthful products, they'll bring more to market.

i'm certainly not disagreeing with you, but it does put the whole rick bayless/BK fiasco in a different light (actually, that was what i had argued way back then).

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I think it absolutely matters who owns what. The big corporations are ultimately interested in profit and the bottom line. When a smaller company gets bought out, for whatever reason, by a mega-corporation like Dean, the quality of their original product(s) inevitably declines, as well as the integrity that was behind that product.

Thus the misleading packaging on such products as Horizon milk, which looks all nice and bucolic, but actually is about the most watered-down version of "organic" you can get in this country.

Which is a major problem with megacorporations owning the most prevalent "organic" or "healthy" brands- agribusiness has the money to send lobbyists to Washington to pressure lawmakers into watering down the definition of "organic" until it's practically meaningless.

Not only that, but some of these companies, especially Dean, are reticent about their labor practices. And then, when you someone with an interest in Monsanto on the board of one of these megacompanies, the integrity of the whole industry is called into question. Especially when you see how much money Monsanto-related people contributed to the political campaigns of certain members of the current regime.

The more you research it, the scarier and more convoluted it becomes.

The bottom line here is greed. Greedy big business is not good for the American people. It is especially not good for our health or for the safety of our food supply.

This issue is similar to asking who controls the media and the information and disinformation we are fed by them. Would we be so naive about that?

Watch "The Future of Food", a documentary by Deborah Koons Garcia. It delves the depths of these issues.

I get really riled about this stuff. I used to manage the coupon redemption for the local cooperative grocery, and it was really eye-opening to see those checks come back from ConAgra or similar agribusiness corporations.

If you think this stuff doesn't matter, just ask the farmers. I'm fortunate to live in an area that is on the cutting edge of sustainable agriculture. These guys could tell you a scary thing or two about the current state of who owns what in the food world. It is not something to be flip about; it is our future as a species that is at stake here.

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I think it absolutely matters who owns what. The big corporations are ultimately interested in profit and the bottom line. When a smaller company gets bought out, for whatever reason, by a mega-corporation like Dean, the quality of their original product(s) inevitably declines, as well as the integrity that was behind that product.

[etc.]

The first purpose of any business is to return a profit to its investors. I can't imagine anyone going into business to NOT make money.

Anyone who's owned their own place knows that the scramble for working capital can be draining, and that it can take away from, um, running the business and getting a good product out there. If a big corporation can back someone and make them all more profitable (and make the product available), good.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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I just learned something today, that truly saddened me...

One chain that I view in a favorable light, is Trader Joe's. They have some great deals, and some interesting items -- the bad thing is, they won't always keep things in stock, so if you find something you really love, you might be out of luck, because they'll only carry it for a limited time. But that's okay; not all stores can be all things, to all shoppers. I view them as the underdog going up against the giant supermarkets. And that might still be true. But the truth is, they can still be a giant themselves.

A friend of mine just told me that a really wonderful little grocery store had shut down recently -- typical mom & pop store that had been there forever. They held a very sad and depressing raffle -- the prize winner was allowed to turn off the lights in the store for the last time, when they closed.

They were run out of business after a Trader Joe's opened down the block.

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What do you brush your teeth with so that you can keep them healthy and intact for a lifetime of good eating?

Tom's Of Maine was recently acquired by Colgate-Palmolive. So now we have a small, independent company that never tested its products on animals owned by a large corporation that allows animal testing on some of its other lines (at least according to some quick Net research).

Where do you draw the line? I don't view large corporations as necessarily, or inherently, evil, but I do have certain standards, peculiar though they may be, and I try to gear my purchases accordingly.

Edit: well, the more you google, the more you can learn.

Never mind.

Edited by ghostrider (log)

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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If a big corporation can back someone and make them all more profitable (and make the product available), good.

...and when they run the little guys out of business, is this also good? When they discover cheaper ways to produce what were once artisan products, like adding preservatives, transfats, etc, is this also good?

Do you remember when Bruce Aidell sausages tasted like something? Do you believe Scharfenberger will benefit as a quality product now that Hershey's has bought them? When the groovy chain insists your product be produced for less or they drop you and you look to China, making California more of a giant suburb than an ag state that actually produces something, how good is that?

The current model of food production in our country is in quite a state and I'd just encourage us to look at it a little deeper than being satisfied with cheaper prices and being impressed with business smarts.

I don't have the answers but I don't think Kraft does, either.

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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I don't consider all large corporations to be evil, but I do try to gear my purchases toward the corporations that treat their employees decently. Cheap cereal or juice means nothing to me if the lower price is ofset by increased taxes to give Medicaid and rent subsidies to the parent company's underpaid employees, or for supporting unemployed Americans whose jobs are sent overseas. I also try to avoid companies know for lowering prices by using slave labor or wasting valuable resources such as oil.

Assuming a product I like is taken over by a large corporation that isn't known for these things, whether or not I continue to buy it would depend on the reason why I bought it in the first place. If it was because I liked the taste of it and the new company changes the recipe or process for making the food, I am going to stop purchasing it. If it was because the product was made nearby and the new company will have it made far away, I might stop buying the product if a similar product is produced nearby by a different company.

For example, if my local organic milk company was taken over by a company that would cut costs by shipping the milk from 2,000 miles away instead of 100 miles away, I would look for another company closer to home. However, if the only remaining nearby milk company was known for busting unions so it could pay its skilled labor minimum wage and the distant corporation was unionized or known for paying its employees a living wage, I would stick with the product even after it was taken over by the big corporation.

Tammy Olson aka "TPO"

The Practical Pantry

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Don't forget that Ben & Jerrys, Toms of Maine, Bruce Aidell, Sharfenberger and other companies beloved by faithful customers weren't firebombed or forced out of business by armed thugs. They SOLD OUT! For big bucks.

I'm not saying they're wrong for having done so, but what do you owe them? Apparently the dedication and devotion was a one-way street?

Everything isn't always as simple as sacred cows vs oxen gored.

SB :raz:

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Don't forget that Ben & Jerrys, Toms of Maine, Bruce Aidell, Sharfenberger and other companies beloved by faithful customers weren't firebombed or forced out of business by armed thugs.  They SOLD OUT!  For big bucks.

I'm not saying they're wrong for having done so, but what do you owe them?  Apparently the dedication and devotion was a one-way street?

Everything isn't always as simple as sacred cows vs oxen gored.

SB  :raz:

With all due respect, srhcb, doesn't the phrase "selling out" or "sold out" imply some form of wrong-doing, perceived and/or genuine? When "we" say "They sold out," don't "we" imply that the company is no longer committed (or faithful) to their original mission statement, which leads to the seemingly cynical notion that ... "everybody has a price"?

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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With all due respect, srhcb, doesn't the phrase "selling out" or "sold out" imply some form of wrong-doing, perceived and/or genuine? When "we" say "They sold out," don't "we" imply that the company is no longer committed (or faithful) to their original mission statement, which leads to the seemingly cynical notion that ... "everybody has a price"?

Have you tasted a Bruce Aidell sausage lately?

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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It was really quality stuff at one point!

It sounds like you've tasted Aidell sausages before and after the company "sold out" (what ever that means). Okay, I'll say it:

rancho_gordo, spill the beans!! :raz:

Question: When these small companies that make these artisanal products grow as big as they could & then, the big corporations want to buy them out, won't the products eventually decrease in quality as they increase in quantity? Would it be better for the small company to quit their business instead of selling the business to a corporation?

Sorry if this is a bit off-topic ...

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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Whether this all matters is all part of your personal values, of course, and if you value making money above all else, then you won't see anything wrong with large multi-national corporations like Altria (formerly Philip Morris) owning large parts of your processed food supply (they own Kraft and Nabisco, which in turn both own hundreds of smaller brands- and yes, Altria still makes cigarettes).

I personally value quality, sustainability, and local production, which don't always follow through when the larger corporation acquires the smaller brand. I can't make any promises, but if I was buying my cheese from a small, local company that had a completely internalized production process and offered the most delicious cheese, and that company was bought out by Altria, I feel like something would have to change. At the very least, the increased market power of a place like Altria would increase the amount of production in the cheese factory, which, depending on how much they would want to outlay on quality control, would almost certainly lead to a decrease in quality. If nothing ever changed when companies were acquired, I might not have lost my faith so easily.

Many people value making money before all else, and money is all well and good, but there are ways to spend and earn it responsibly, without damaging people's health, planet, or local job opportunities.

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