I just read that Horizon, owned by Dean Foods, is coming out with a non-organic label: "natural dairy." This will be the first time Horizon, the largest distributor of organic milk, will have a non-organic label. I'm bummed! Consumers are confused enough as it is about the benefits of certified organic, and they trust the Horizon label to be certified organic, which actually means something. Now to muddy the waters (and the milk), Horizon is going to slap a "natural" label on some of their products ... a word that means absolutely nothing and is not regulated or backed up by any standards.
In an email I received from the The Cornucopia Institute, Mark A. Kastel, senior farm policy analyst, says: "When the first Horizon natural products are introduced -- a yogurt aimed at children and single-serve milk -- they will promote them as being without growth hormones. But Dean Foods will not be able to mention that the products are produced without pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and other drugs, and genetically modified feed crops, or that the cows are required to graze in pastures rather than confined to factory farm feedlots. These are all factors that truly differentiate organic production from natural/conventional agricultural and livestock production."
I feel it's so important that manufacturers help consumers understand the value of organic and organic farming, rather than confusing the issue with meaningless labels. What do you think? (And watch for our upcoming article covering the latest organic issues in the Sept issue.)