Nearly all of the negative misinformation out there surrounding otherwise innocuous ingredients can be traced back not to scientists, but to seemingly well-meaning interest groups. But how well do these “consumer protectors” really know their consumers’ needs?
While on the surface, these “watchdog groups” may seem to be advocates for health-conscious families, yet there’s often actually a lot more than meets the eye—especially in the case of so-called “mysterious additives” like carrageenan, which has gained the overwhelming support of other consumer watchdog groups, such as the Environmental Working Group.
The Cornucopia Institute is one of those players, pulling the rug out from under some of the most trusted organic brands, both big and small, because of their use of one simple ingredient, therefore manufacturing confusion where none previously existed.
Groups like this work on a couple of different levels. In one sense, they are fighting the surface-level battle of driving consumer interests, which is what convinces readers that their best interests are truly the major concern, and then there is the deeper, usually more shrouded level of arguing in favor of what their financial supporters are actually trying to gain.
Although the claim has been disputed over the years, the unilateral opposition to revolutionary farming practices that otherwise further the future of the trade is consistent among the brands that help fund the institute’s major work.
Some great brands use or used carrageenan in their products, such as Whole Foods 365, Newman’s, O Organics (the world’s largest organic brand), Costco/Kirkland (the world’s largest retailer of organic products), Starbucks, Plum Organics, Horizon, Wegmans, Tom’s of Maine, Annie’s and more. But does this mean that all of your trusted favorites have really been scheming against your health? The short answer: not a chance.
In the Game of Special Interests, Some Interests Are More Special Than Others
These brands didn’t get it wrong—carrageenan is not only a sustainable ingredient shown to be safe, it’s also been shown to have important health benefits such as antioxidant activity, managing gastric discomfort and digestive health support.
The irony in any sort of advocacy group taking an un-nuanced stance against certain practices is that it tends to cloud the goal of the greater good. When groups like Cornucopia undertake a heavy stance against anything that their funders might be opposed to for their own reasons, it takes more work to justify why eliminating some farming practices might increase food safety, while lobbying against other helpful regulations inherently doesn’t.