Support Independent Companies

Mar 05 , 2022


Support Independent Companies

     When you shop for organic foods, natural home goods and clean body care products, you probably prefer to buy from independent companies and family farms but the landscape of organic brands has changed. It's best to buy local items and local produce from artisanal vendors and Farmers Markets. But if you're purchasing packaged and processed foods, you can also make an effort to support Independent Brands and Companies. While many brands deceptively market themselves as small family farms or independent mom and pop companies, many have been quietly purchased by multinational corporations. Some acquired brands may tout their original founder while concealing their new corporate owner. And after acquiring an organic brand, the parent company frequently waters down the brand's standards and replaces organic ingredients with cheaper substitutes for more profits. It's never apparent that these brands are owned by a stealth corporation like Unilever, Pepsi or Clorox, corporations that are not committed to selling healthy food or using non-toxic ingredients.

     Independent companies are not beholden to their shareholders and tend to stick to their principles of sourcing clean ingredients. This is why we have compiled a curated list of Independent Companies here on The Earth Online Catalog, which can be Employee-Owned or Family-Owned, but not owned by a 3rd party investment company, corporation or conglomerate so that you can make more informed decisions when shopping.  Some blogs from years ago detailing independent companies are now unfortunately out-of-date as many independently-founded brands have been gobbled up by larger companies.

     Here is a graphic (click to enlarge) made by professor Philip Howard detailing acquisitions of some of the top 100 Food Processors in North America.

      Note some of these examples: Honest Tea is owned by Coca-Cola, Kashi is owned by Kellog, Seeds of Change is owned by Mars, etc. When we buy from Big Food, we may be actually supporting GMO farming, questionable labor practices and unsafe ingredients. These mega-corporations are capitalizing on the trends of organic foods while still creating products that are unhealthy for our bodies and planet. Many of these corporations, like Pepsi, General Mills, Kraft, Nestle and ConAgra gave Millions of dollars to fight California citizens' right to know about GMO origins of food ingredients. (See our other blog post, Who are GMO-Labeling Advocates). Hain Celestial is a unique company seen in the graphic as they have always been committed to wellness and healthy products.

     So while you may not like hearing the some brands that you love are owned by multinational corporations, the good news is that there are still independently-owned farms and food processors that you can support. These companies' products may cost more, because big corporations may be able to sell their products for less, but the more we know, the better we can vote with our dollars to support brands whose principles align with our values.

     Companies like Nature's Path, Eden Foods, Amy's Kitchen and Clif Bar have all declined offers to purchase their businesses. Rather than take the cash, owners have maintained their company's independence in order to uphold their vision, maintain their values and/or to keep the business in the family. These particular companies are no longer "small," and some don't have perfect records or always popular perspectives but some were pioneers of the organic industry, deeply committed to sustainability and sourcing clean, natural organic ingredients. Some have been leading advocates (and critics) to maintain the integrity of the definition of "certified organic" in the United States. Amy's Kitchen, Clif Bar and Nature's Path have supported attempts to label GMO foods in the US. You can learn more on the efforts to keep organic pure over at the Organic Consumers Association.

     On The Earth Online Catalog, you can shop Independent Companies by clicking here. Or filter your searches by “Independent Companies,” one of our Earthling Values search filters.

Thanks for supporting Independent and Family-Owned Businesses!

Below are a few Independent Companies whose products we sell online:

Aura Cacia
Aurora Natural Products
Bio Nutrition
Bob's Red Mill (Employee-Owned)
Clif Bar
Ecos/Earth Friendly Eden
Edward and Son's
Equal Exchange (Employee-Cooperative)
Food For Life
Frontier Natural
Lotus Foods
Lundberg Family Foods
Nature's Path
Newman's Own
Once Again (Employee-Owned)
Simply Organic
Traditional Medicinals


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