Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sometimes it's better to be illusioned

For some time I have been drinking soy milk - using the real thing in my tea, but otherwise sticking to soy beverage, or milk in fermented or cultured forms. I've developed a real fondness for Silk Very Vanilla.

I've taken care over the years to read the labels, and try to buy only organic soy products. It's not that I am so much worried about health risks - I just don't want to support the corporations who patent GMOs.

Well, it turns out, I wasn't paying attention - or thinking about the implications of organic.

There is now nothing on the Silk label which says organic, and most of their soy beans come from China. Even many beans purported to be organic (though it's difficult to assess) come from China or Brazil.

Silk is now part of Dean Foods, a large food product conglomerate. With the acquisition came the shift to Chinese soy, and, of course, the failure to continue to support organic soy production in this country, as the Organic Bytes newsletter points out. What could have been a force for market-based agricultural reform in this country became just another globally sourcing corporation, doing it as cheaply as possible.

Organic Bytes information source is the Cornucopia Institute
and there you can find a full report and a rating of all the soy products companies.
Five bean companies produce soy foods which are wholly organic, made from small farm, US grown soy beans. The zero and one bean companies got there primarily by not disclosing much.
In the middle are companies that most likely do not use GMOs, but may use dangerous solvents (hexane) in production.

Most of the private labels and brands you would recognize at any super market are disastrous. Eden Soy is the only beverage brand I recognized with the coveted 5 bean rating.

I did, though, find good reviews (you can get the full info on any manufacturer by clicking on its name in the survey) of several companies whose other soy products I buy in the 4 bean section.

I got so interested in it all that I moved on to Cornucopia's updated organic dairy survey. I was so pleased that little Loleta Cheese in Humboldt County got 5 cows! Many northern California dairies got 4 cows, as did Sunnyside Organic Milk, the house brand of several regional grocery chains. So if you go to Raley's, Lucky or Food Maxx, don't spend more for the national brand organic milk with the bucolic scene on the label. Choose the less expensive Sunnyside Brand from Stockton, California - the most transparent store brand in either study.

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