How many times has one of your favorite food products changed its recipe (or price) suddenly, leaving you scrambling to find an alternative? When a brand decides to pull a formula from the shelves, it is ultimately in some way the result of the pressures of the free market. While sometimes it just happens to be that yes, you were the only one buying those new sushi-flavored potato chips, when it comes to natural and organic foods, there is often more at play than simple supply and demand.
Lobbyists? In My Almond Milk?
Special-interest groups are the culprit behind decisions being made by some of the world’s most trusted organic brands, both big and small. Although we may wish otherwise, even all-natural and organic businesses are still just that: businesses, which means that sometimes those who fund biased research have an investment in the failure of other businesses, and companies that in turn benefit from the spread of misinformation.
Sadly, that isn’t always good for business. These often-weakened brands, which may have been promised more profits after switching from a tried-and-true formula, tend to jump on the negative press bandwagon rather than seeking to improve their foods. Or, brands that stand to benefit from a shifting food-science landscape band together to help justify their new higher prices or sketchier practices. This is often the case, as evidenced by the ongoing “campaign” by The Cornucopia Institute that continues to put forth “alternative science” on the ubiquitous, everyday ingredient of carrageenan.
A Hard-Earned Lesson in the Free Market
By latching on to the demonization of certain widely accepted ingredients, policy investors can find it easier to get brands to drum up their less-than-stellar recipes for mass production before wholesome brands have time to regroup and find alternatives that work with their winning products—effectively forcing well-respected brands to remove carrageenan in favor of less time-tested results.
In reality, more trusted consumer-watchdog groups, such as the Environmental Working Group (EWG), support carrageenan in all of its uses, alongside good company with groups like food regulatory agencies in the U.S. and European Union—even the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization (FAO/WHO), all of which agree that carrageenan and others like it carry absolutely no risk.
Consumers DO Hold the Power!
Remember: Not all additives are created equal. For a natural additive to gain its title, it must be directly derived from plant or animal material—others are synthesized in labs using chemicals and reactive processes. And yet, even with this information, many consumers are making the wrong move for their families simply due to the staggering misinformation circling from malaligned interest groups.
While there is clearly a delicate balance at play here, the bottom line to keep in mind is that your money counts. Even when the market seems to play by its own rules, there is no way for any business to sustain itself without buyers. Using your dollar as your vote speaks much louder toward sustainable business practices and ethics than any special interest group ever can.