ESSAY OF THE WEEK
Ben & Jerry’s #DirtyDairy
The Vermont brand has been built on a bucolic image of cows grazing on endless pastures . . . Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and other Vermont companies have used this idyllic imagery to sell their products. Gone are the days, however, when most of Vermont’s cows were grazing in spectacularly scenic landscapes. Now a majority of Vermont’s cows are locked up in . . . ‘confined animal feeding operations’ or CAFOs . . . grazing on concrete with a diet rich in GMO corn and pesticides. – “Vermont’s GMO Addiction: Pesticides, Polluted Water and Climate Destruction,” Regeneration Vermont
The most important thing we can do today as conscious consumers, farmers and food workers is to regenerate public health, the environment and climate stability.
How? By moving away from industrial, GMO and factory-farm food toward an organic, pasture-based, soil regenerative, humane, carbon-sequestering and climate-friendly agricultural system.
What’s standing in the way of this life-or-death transformation? Rampant greenwashing.The proliferation of $90 billion worth of fraudulently labeled or advertised “natural” and “socially responsible” food products in the U.S. confuses even the most well-intentioned of consumers and lures them away from purchasing genuine organic or grass-fed products.
Perhaps no company personifies greenwashing more than Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s.
As the New York Times reports, OCA recently sent samples of Ben and Jerry’s top-selling ice cream brands to an independent testing lab for analysis. Ten out of 11 samples tested positive for Roundup (glyphosate and AMPA) herbicide contamination
So much for being “natural” and “socially responsible.”
Stop Stalling, Scooper Man!
Ben & Jerry’s CEO Jostein Solheim, aka “Scooper Man,” says this on the ice cream maker’s website:
“My mantra that I’ve repeated a hundred times since starting at Ben & Jerry’s is: ‘Change is a wonderful thing.’”
That’s funny. Because there’s one really important change that Ben & Jerry’s just won’t make: transitioning to 100% organic milk.
Ben and Jerry’s brags about how the company cares about “children and families, the environment and sustainable agriculture on family farms.”
In fact, Ben & Jerry’s is one of the biggest supporters of an industrial dairy system that pollutes Vermont’s waterways, perpetuates the abuse of animals, runs farmers out of business, exploits farmworkers, promotes agricultural practices thatcontribute to global warming, and feeds kids Roundup Ready ice cream.
What does Ben & Jerry’s really care about? Maximizing profits. That’s what company executives said behind closed doors to activists who for two decades have been pressuring the company to go organic.
For 20 years, activists have played nice with Ben & Jerry’s, politely making the case that the company should live up to its claims of “social responsibility” and all that that expression promises.
Enough. It’s time for Ben & Jerry’s to stop scamming consumers. And start going organic.
And it’s time for consumers to #DumpBenandJerrys and go with local or regional organic brands. Try searching Local Harvest and Eat Wild to find local organic ice cream brands. If you don’t have a good local source of organic ice cream, these national brands—Alden’s (organic), Julie’s Organic and Three Twins. They all tested negative for glyphosate.
Text ‘dirtydairy’ to 97779 to sign the petition
Call Ben & Jerry’s (802-846-1500) and ask the company to go organic.
Post on Ben & Jerry’s Facebook page
SUPPORT THE OCA & OCF
Ben & Jerry’s claims it runs a “Caring Dairy™” program that “works with a dedicated group of family-operated dairy farms (over 350 farms in the U.S. and Europe) in their quest for a healthier connection between the land, the animals and the people who care for them.”
Bollocks, as the Brits would say.
Here’s the truth. Ben & Jerry’s, a subsidiary of the world’s second-largest consumer products company, London-based Unilever, rakes in annual profits of about $1.5-billion selling glyphosate-contaminated ice cream by pretending to be a “progressive” do-gooder company that shares your values.
America’s industrial chemical dairy industry, which relies on millions of acres of GMO crops to produce animal feed, is a major source of water pollution in the U.S. Factory farm dairies keep over-fed, over-milked cows locked up on concrete floors for their short, painful lives. And the farmers who run the dairies, in many cases, barely make a living.
This is the filthy, abusive industry that Ben & Jerry’s supports—all the while masquerading as a company that sells a wholesome, “natural” product.
If a company the size of Ben and Jerry’s converted its milk supply to 100% organic, other brands would be forced to follow. Together, they would have a massive, positive impact on the environment, on human health, on animal welfare, on the well-being and financial success of independent dairy farmers, and on global warming.
OCA is committed to forcing this change. We will pressure organic and natural food stores to #dumpbenandjerrys. We will mobilize our partners in the food movement. We will use the courts, protests, media events—whatever it takes.
We are in this for the long haul. Your donation today will help us ramp up, roll out and sustain this campaign for as long as it takes. Thank you!
Support our campaign to force Ben & Jerry’s to go organic (donations to OCA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, are tax deductible)
MYTH OF NATURAL
Not So Fast
General Mills is one step closer to having to either clean up its Nature’s Valley granola bars, or drop the words “100% Natural” from the product’s packaging.
The cereal giant rounded up its lawyers, who promptly filed a “motion to dismiss” the lawsuit. But a D.C. Superior Court judge said not so fast.
In fact, the Court ruled that a reasonable jury could find that General Mills’ “Made With 100% Natural Whole Grain Oats” claims were misleading to consumers. The Court also ruled that nonprofits have the right to file this type of lawsuit in D.C. on behalf of consumers.
Why go to the trouble and expense of suing General Mills? Because like so many other companies, General Mills knows that consumers think the word “natural” means healthy and pesticide-free, even though it doesn’t. And like all the other fake natural brands in the$90-billion “fake natural” market, it profits from that deception.
MILLIONS AGAINST MONSANTO
Mm! Mm! Good!
Every now and then a member of the Big Food brigade does something good.
Last week, Campbell’s Soup Co. said it will drop out of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) by the end of 2017.We’re not advocating that you run out and buy a can of Campbell’s soup (unless it’s the organic variety), but we do think this latest move by Campbell’s deserves a thank you.
Campbell’s was once in hot soup with consumers, for donating to defeat California’s GMO labeling initiative, and for being a member of the GMA, the multi-billion lobby group that spent millions to defeat state GMO labeling initiatives, and ultimately killed mandatory GMO labeling for good.
The soup giant redeemed itself (prompting us to remove it from our boycott list) when it became the first big food corporation to announce that it would label GMO ingredients in its products.
Campbell’s recently slurped up another organic brand—Pacific Foods, a 30-year-old maker of organic broth, soup and other beverages, with more than $200 million in annual sales.
In announcing the company’s withdrawal from the GMA, Chief Executive Denise Morrison said is “not financial,” but rather “driven by purpose and principles.”
Cuba in November
Looking to escape the cold in November? Visit Cuba!
Join a band of intrepid travelers to learn how Cuban farmers and producers work to feed their island nation. You’ll also learn about Cuba’s growing cooperative movement, and what it means for the country.
The 10-day trip, which runs from November 26th- December 5th, 201, will be hosted by Havana’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center and sponsored by the Center for Global Justice, Vía Orgánica and OCA. It will include visits to organic gardens and cooperatives, both urban and rural, and tours of an ecological zone and community projects.
This year’s trip is geared to a wide range of professionals engaged in all aspects of healthy food and local economies. Trip dates are November 26th- December 5th, 2017. Estimated cost of $1,700 includes dormitory-style accommodations and all meals at MLK Center, translation, guide, transportation and a full program of activities. Airfare is extra. Application and non-refundable $100 deposit. Full payment due one month before departure. Limited scholarships are available.
For applications and further information, contact [email protected].
Looking for other opportunities to explore Cuba’s organic farming scene? The National Association of Small Producers hosts its 4th International Conference of Agroecology November 19-25th. There are workshops before and after the conference as well. Our friends at the Vermont Caribbean Institute and the Cuba-US Agroecology Network are organizing the U.S. delegation. The conference’s predominant language is Spanish and is held outside of Havana in a rustic setting. For more information, see theirwebsite and review the information carefully.