The Power of Your Food Dollars

First off, let?s make no mistake. Americans are still binging on junk food. No one is declaring the end of fast food. Financial trends show as much, as does a casual look around. That said, there?s plenty to suggest that we find ourselves at an interesting junction these days when it comes to the food economy.

We?re seeing big packaged food giants, who lost four billion dollars of the market share last year, initiate ?healthy? or sustainable changes they hope will drive consumers back to their product lines. Several fast food chains are doing the same. It?s all part of a ?Big Food versus Granola Startup? movement, as described by a recent Fortune Magazine analysis of the food industry, a review that highlights the increasing role of health goals and smaller sourcing as well as questions the ability of large food companies to maintain their market share, particularly without heeding the alternative writing on the wall.

Following decades of momentum toward increasing convenience, artificial additives, and industrial farming, pushback movements are gaining ground and building awareness around food quality and farming practices in the public consciousness. The result? We?re witnessing an expansion of markets (and their suppliers) for organically raised produce and naturally raised (e.g. pastured, grass-fed) livestock and for less heavily processed alternatives for other kinds of food products and restaurant offerings. (Hooray!)

The last few months have seen a slew of corporate announcements. Chipotle is going GMO-free (not in terms of animal feed, however). Tyson will no longer use poultry that?s been raised with human antibiotics. McDonalds has committed to the same phase-out, which fits given Tyson is a supplier for the fast-food chain. The fast-food giant also agreed to stop using milk from cows treated with the rbST hormone. Panera Bread won?t be using artificial ingredients in their menu. Likewise, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell are reportedly going ?all natural,? removing artificial ingredients from their line-ups. Dunkin? Donuts has agreed to discontinue use of titanium dioxide in its powdered donuts. (Sorry to anyone who?s eaten one – ever.)

On down the list?Nestle is discontinuing the use of artificial flavors and coloring, a move that impacts the processing of 250 products. Hershey, for its part, followed up with a pledge to cut many artificial ingredients in its formulations. Pepsi is dumping aspartame (and replacing it with sucralose). Coca-Cola has eliminated brominated vegetable oil, which, by the way, is used as a flame retardant. After being besieged by a major campaign that spanned social media, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese will no longer include artificial coloring in its U.S. products, and will use the natural coloring agents it uses for European versions.

Sure, it?s stating the obvious when I say that most people who read this blog aren?t exactly these companies? biggest fans and loyal customers. I can?t remember the last time I had soda. Hershey? I do enjoy some quality high cocoa content dark chocolate now, but I?ve found much, much better, thank you. Fast food – not on the radar screen anymore.

Still, the general trend here intrigues me. Big Food is scrambling to shift their product ingredients in a healthier direction – not to mention buy out genuinely natural and organic brands to diversify their lines and maximize their profits.

As Fortune magazine?s insider discussions with food execs demonstrated, companies are concerned about the growing trends toward ?shopping the perimeter? and preferring labels with fewer ingredients. Some 64% of people surveyed through a Fortune Magazine-Survey Monkey partnership were very concerned about pesticides. Fifty-six percent were concerned about hormones, and 52% were concerned about the use of antibiotics in livestock. A whopping 85% believed GMO products should be labelled. This doesn?t bode well for many in the industry.

Consumers, it seems, aren?t only more health conscious but more experimental in their health related choices. The top label claims to draw consumers to new products between 2011-2015 were gluten-free and organic. All but obsolete are ?diet? and ?low fat? labels. Even the concept of diet has changed in the population as a whole, with over 36% of survey respondents saying they?ve tried a low carb diet (and another 6.5% citing their experience with the paleo diet). As the head of Nestle?s U.S. business observed, the interest of consumers to experiment with ?new of trends ?is at its highest level, probably, ever.??

Big Food switching out some ingredients – no, it’s not like the world is going Primal. We’re a long way from healthy, but there’s some reason to appreciate the news. I like a game that?s up for grabs, and the more players the better in my mind. Sure, the biggest dollars are still going toward the biggest companies, but I agree there?s a different energy these days. The old rules (like the old labels) are falling by the wayside. Trends are shifting faster than large corporations can neatly manage. The public, as bad as many of their choices are, in some ways knows more or at least wonders about what they think they know. The older CW messages are slowly falling away, and many consumers are looking for new rules and are open to new shopping sources.

Once upon a time, Whole Foods was a specialty store that few had heard about, let alone shopped in. These days, they?re struggling against the competition from big companies? organic lines as well as increasing co-op, farmer?s market, direct-to-consumer options – not to mention the online healthy warehouse newcomer Thrive Market. The landscape is changing, and consumer interests are driving those changes at a faster pace and in novel directions.

You may have nothing to do with certain companies or whole sectors of the food industry as a result of your Primal choices or personal values. Many people in the Primal community I know shop solely from small local suppliers (or grow/raise/hunt their own), which means they?ve cut themselves entirely (or almost entirely) out from the reach of large food corporations. No matter what companies or growers we support, the fact is, where we put our dollars has an impact. When a large number of us steer our money away from certain businesses or kinds of products and begin to support others, it has an even greater effect.

We?re not only making a choice for ourselves and our families, but we?re helping to shift the trajectory of the food industry as a whole. Each of us matters in this equation, but imagine the subtle but very tangible and gradually transformative power of the full Primal community – and the greater movement of ancestral health/eating. We?re helping decide which businesses stay open, which will grow and which will be forced to change. What starts as a commitment to ourselves becomes an influence on greater economic and societal forces. Our dollars help determine the future of food in this country.

What message or action do you hope your purchases support? How have you (by word or example) influenced others? food choices or shopping routines? Share your thoughts, and have a great week, everyone.

Prefer listening to reading? Get an audio recording of this blog post, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast on iTunes for instant access to all past, present and future episodes here.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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74 thoughts on “The Power of Your Food Dollars”

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  1. I explained to my husband that every dollar he spends on a product/brand is a ‘vote’ for them and the way they treat their employees, animals (if applicable) and the quality of ingredients they use. We do a lot of our shopping separately, as I’m a vegetarian and he’s a ‘meat at every meal’ guy, but he’s now buying organic meat which I consider a huge win!

  2. As someone who does not not have the time to hunt/fish/grow all my own food but does shop for organic/local food (Kroger’s, farmers market, etc.) it is great to see this shift no matter how small. I can only hope the trend continues.

    I’ve actually started growing a small amount of food for several reasons (local, fresh, and savings) and will add to what I grow next year, but… there are plenty of things I will still need. This article kind of serves as motivation to keep spending the way I have been spending.

  3. Mark, your books, blog, retreats – your hard work – is a huge part of why the landscape is changing. PLEASE KEEP GOING!!!

    1. I agree. The Primal/Paleo movement has gained considerable momentum. Even the naysayers are dropping away. The reason being, of course, is that it works–without doctors, without drugs, almost without effort. The marketplace is no stranger to changing trends. Their bottom line depends on keeping abreast. This is nothing but good for those of us who want to take care of our health without going bankrupt in the process.

      However, the two Whole Foods stores in my area are definitely not struggling. Their clientele seems to consist of 3 categories: People who have enough money to be unconcerned about what they pay for food; people who think health is all about where you shop and how much you pay, whether you can afford it or not; and people like me, who routinely shop at a variety of stores and only buy items at Whole Foods that are unavailable elsewhere.

  4. It’s exciting to hear that the big companies are going all-natural and/or artificial flavor and color-free! While I don’t typically eat anything that will be affected, my family does. In fact, searching out dye and chemical-free food for my family is what led me to MDA in the first place. My kids will be delighted that they will be able to eat Kraft Mac and Cheese again. I guess the dye-free stuff I’ve been buying them isn’t nearly as good. lol.

    1. Try “Annie’s Shells.” It’s a healthier alternative that my semi-Paleo family members have enjoyed for quite a few years now. Annie’s products are available at Costco and most other stores.

  5. I saw an ad on TV here in UK about Hellmann’s Olive Oil Mayo. Apparently healthy alternative to saturated fat ( yawn )… I got curious and checked it out – 59% Rapeseed oil. 5% Olive Oil. Why is it even called Olive Oil Mayo? Gotta watch out with this “new health wave” and make sure something artificial isn’t replaced with something “natural” but equally unhealthy.

    A big supermarket chain here in a UK has been advertising that they’ve removed sweets from shelves close to check outs ( so kids stop pestering their parents for some chocolate bar ). What have they replaced them with? Crisps, pop corn and milk chocolate coated nuts and seeds. oh and sugar free chewing gum. Mmmmm…so healthy.

    1. Yes Jake I agree. Some of my pet peeves are, water that is labeled ‘gluten free’ (ya gotta be kidding me), ‘we use real cheese’, and on egg cartons…’vegetarian fed’. This is all so much crock! I could go on and on, but why bother.

      1. I groan every time I see eggs listed as vegetarian fed. We have chickens. They are not vegetarians. They eat bugs, worms, and love leftover salmon skin. But people buy into the label….

      2. I believe the reason for the ‘vegetarian fed’ label is to let buyers know that the chickens have not been fed ground up chicken carcasses, which was done at one time. I don’t know if it still is, after the mad cow disease fiasco.

      3. The “gluten-free” label means that the product has less then 20 ppm gluten. Sure, some of the labeling is only there to capture the gluten-free craze. But people who are truly allergic to gluten (not just intolerant) cannot tolerate any contamination, and that label helps them to avoid contamination. So please don’t be too harsh. But I agree that gluten-free water is a bit of a stretch.

    2. I know, right? Canola oil isn’t TOO bad but it’s not olive oil. So vexing.

    3. I’m about to market my 100% fat free 100% sugar free water

      1. Don’t forget to add “allergen free” to the label! 🙂

      2. hilarious!!!! you made my day!!! 😀 (I totally agree, those labels are becoming ridiculous!!)

  6. This is a great topic and I’m excited about the progress that has already been made! I typically can’t afford the best meat within my budget, but I try to splurge when I can with this topic in mind. I hope that one day the organic and grass-fed meats will be more mainstream and the prices will come down in my local grocery store.

    1. I know it’s more expensive Amber, but if you only buy the grass fed meats, the prices WILL come down quicker. This is the conundrum. A lot of folks are waiting for the prices to come down, but if these same folks starting putting their money where their mouth is, the prices would come down faster. Tough choice for sure.

        1. The prices may come down, but the decrease might not be as much as you think. We are paying artificially low prices for meat because the government subsidizes grain production, most of which goes to feed animals. The higher price of grass-fed meat reflects a cost commensurate with what previous generations paid for their grass-fed meat. I don’t think there’s going to be much getting around high prices for high quality food, no matter how many people start buying it, unless the government starts heavily subsidizing organic farms.

    2. I think of all the things I DON’T buy anymore: pizza, ice cream, bread, pasta, cookies, crackers, jellies, processed meats, canned vegetables, canned soups/sauces, I could go on and on. All that money saved goes to buying healthy Primal fare. I figure I come out even $$$-wise, ahead health-wise. All good.

    3. Search out the farmer! Buy direct, stock up your freezer, and you might have to stick with ground beef/ground pork etc. Steaks and chicken are plain expensive, that’s just what I’ve concluded. Also, canned seafood from Wild Planet on Thrive…

  7. I’m so thankful for the choices I have these days. I can remember what my husband and I were eating just 10 years ago on the SAD diet, not knowing any better.
    In the 3 years we’ve been a primal family, our options have grown exponentially.

  8. The best vote is with your dollars. I know I spend way more money on food shopping at Whole Foods vs Kroger, but there are certain things in life that are worth it.

    1. Jeff, I agree with you about your dollars doing the voting. I used to be one of those people who bought into the SAD because I didn’t know better, and it was much cheaper financially to buy foods based on a sale price or buy one get one free, even if it was unhealthy junk. Since going primal, I looked for and found a local farmer’s market where I get most of my meat, eggs, cheese and butter. I shop at Sprouts so I can buy organic produce. I ditched all processed foods, sugar and wheat. I am a single person with a job in education, so I am not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, but eating only the most nutrient dense organic foods I can find is my version of health insurance. I would rather pay for it in food than on medications to manage illnesses caused by a poor diet.

      1. Right on, Viola! Kudos to you for not taking the easy way out like myself and putting in the effort to find those sources for quality food that are also affordable. Whole Foods is great, but I definitely have to pay extra for the convenience ($7.50 for a dozen pasture raised eggs!)

  9. Great topic, Mark!

    I almost eat exclusively organic myself, and I try to support local farms/producers. It does require a commitment and some more planning though, especially here in Norway where health food stores and farmers’ market tend to be quite small and expensive, at least when compared to the U.S. But as I get tastier and healthier food and help change the food system for the better, I’d say it’s worth it.

  10. Our dollars spent on organic and non GMO food is a way of voting. Hit then where it hurts, the pocket.

    1. Another way I vote is by taking my business to the farmer’s market–in essence, telling Big Food that all their “candidates” suck, and the whole marketing practice sucks. I also use this method at the polls–if there is no worthwhile candidate on either side, then I write in somebody. For years, it was Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, but now that the pair are moving on to lives beyond cable TV, I’m going to have to switch to Larry Wilmore. My next door neighbors are always written in for city council around here.

      Sure my vote gets thrown away, but nobody can blame ME if the elected so-and-so does or says something utterly stupid. At least I show up at the polls and make my statement.

  11. Thank you for shedding some light on what positive changes are happening across these industries. Often we can get bogged down by all the doom and gloom that it’s easy to feel hopeless in our actions. So hooray for change and double thumbs up for those of you who are taking responsibility for your actions and committing to this planet for the long haul 🙂

  12. Now only if all the Big Ag farm subsidies and tax credits could be eliminated, that would really drive market change.

    1. I’m in favor of hitting junk foods with a really hefty tax,110% would be about right. But yes, giving those Big Ag farm subsidies and tax credits the heave ho, would help a lot.

      1. Whoa there! Careful. This is still a free country.
        Besides which, who is to say what is “junk food”? For all we know, they will classify butter, coconut oil, red meat, and pork rinds as junk food. Let’s keep government out of this please so that we all can make our own decisions. 🙂

        1. A valid enough concern. As has been pointed out, the problem (at this stage) with taxing ‘junk food’ is that too many people still think that anything with saturated fat in such as butter and coconut oil, belong in this category. But perhaps it could be looked at in another 5-10 years time by which time public perceptions will have (hopefully) changed.

  13. The real food movement is just getting started. More and more people are beginning to experience the consequences of SAD diets. However, many remain captive to conventional wisdom. The fact that the major convenience food purveyors are beginning to bend is a harbinger of a shift in consumer preference. I’m looking forward to more retail options and more competitive prices for quality food.

  14. Tom Naughten calls this “wisdom of the crowds” and it’s nice to see the general public finally wising up.

    I don’t generally buy things with labels but people who do need to be extra careful vis a vis the aforementioned “olive oil” may containing just 5% olive oil and the rest rapeseed (canola) oil. As these large corporations adopt a supposedly healthier approach there are going to be a lot of sleight of hand tricks going on.

    1. Agreed. I read the ingredient label every time because of the lies in big print on the front label. They just have to stick “canola, vegetable[?], and/or soybean oil” in every possible product. Love how they don’t know or care what kind of oil it is.

  15. With Coca-Cola eliminating brominated vegetable oil, and brominated vegetable oil being used as a flame retardant. Does this mean Coco-Cola will finally be flammable? They might actually find a good use for Coca-Cola after all O:)

  16. Yes, yes, and yes – I’ve been noticing the same things in the news. Kudos to small companies who can get the biggies to buy their product line for big bucks. Because for some (like me) the damage is done.

    Pizza Gut and Taco Smell going all natural? :::imagine a rofl gif here:::

    Sorry, but I’m too jaded to ever believe that the biggies won’t be hiding behind the most meager of definitions of healthy. “Natural” – is there even a legal definition for this pertaining to food? Best I’ve been able to find is anything found on earth.

    Once a company is publicly traded, it bows to many gods, and health is at the bottom of that totem pole. I’ll never believe anything different.

  17. Quite honestly, I just focus on buying local products in non-plastic packaging. None of these big brands are on my radar, although sometimes I do get caught up in the hype around something. I can’t support companies who produce on such a large scale that they service around the world when it comes to food – the carbon impact of transport and extra packaging waste alone are more of a deterrent than the lack of nutrition. I shop at a Canadian-owned grocery store for produce from the province or my locally-owned market when I need food. The big-business feel of even Whole Foods is less attractive to me, but I still visit when I’m in need of fast food or hygiene products from the local suppliers’ section that I would otherwise have to buy online.

    My boyfriend is not entirely health or environmentally focused, but he absolutely loves looking for and experimenting with the best quality food he can find, so our choices and gastronomical interests often converge with positive effects.

  18. Generally, if you need to read the label, you shouldn’t buy it! Which is still pretty frustrating, but thankfully it is improving. Thanks for the leadership Mark.

  19. I would argue against the notion that fast food isn’t in any MDA reader’s diet. I bet most eat it on occasion due to its convenience and low sticker price.
    Also, how I think all of the Big Food improvements affects my life most is that when the default purchase is a step up in health, I will be surrounded by more wealthy foods at social gatherings and at my family’s homes! These people that don’t wat to put any effort in their food choices will also have better options automatically.
    The environmental impacts are also important (like antibiotic resistance).

    1. Fast food for me: handful of nuts, a glass of home made kefir, a tablespoon of coconut butter, a nice hunk of cheese with any fruit, a tin of smoked herring, 1/2 an avocado with sauerkraut, a piece of braunchweiger or liverwurst with mustard and jalapenos on top (from US Wellness Meats), jicama and salsa, celery and almond butter, leftover bacon, yoghurt and fruit, jerky, a nut and coconut flake mix, cream with a piece of dark chocolate…
      Man, being Primal is easy and awesome!

      1. Yes! Sounds like my snacks! I’m not saying that relying on fast food is a good idea or that it is every ACTUALLY necessary, but most people believe it is. This is most likely due to advertisements, but people will learn what is best for them eventually…

    2. Nope, no fast food. Every so often I’ll get an un-sweetened iced tea from the burger place down the road, but that’s it. And I disagree that fast food has a low sticker price, at least where I am. When I *did* still eat fast food, I felt like it was a huge amount of money for what you got. I can always come up with something better at home for the same money, if not less.

      1. Watch that “unsweetened” ice tea–the FDA says they can call it “unsweetened” as long as it has no more than 2% fructose in it…and yes, they use fructose. Technically, this makes it sugar-free.

        1. The burger place is a smaller joint, where it is brewed fresh every few hours, and definitely does *not* have any added sugar. This is down south, and people are very particular about tea here. 🙂

      2. And the conversion to a more ecological food system will make sure those tea leaves come laced with pesticides!

    3. No fast food for me, if I do have to eat “fast food” it is a chipotle salad bowl… and costs me about $9 a pop (with guacamole of course). Which I can make at home, for a heck of a lot cheaper. It is always about choices…

      1. Ha, yeah that is expensive, especially after I realized they use rice-bran oil to cook all proteins.

  20. I love Whole Foods, but amongst the major food chains, Kroger has some good organic offerings. The competitive pressures can only help us, the consumers; maybe not stockholders’ dividends.

  21. The points made about shopping the perimeter and avoiding labels is spot-on and a lot more possible than one might think. Increasingly, the center of the store is recognized for what it is: a “food” (It’s not) wasteland.

    Of thing all of you can do: ask you local store to carry grass-fed beef. Volume will lower prices and introduce more people to the benefits. I;ve been pestering Costco for years-your help is welcome, send’em an email!

    1. This is a good idea – to dialogue with your grocery store about what you want. If it’s your store that you patronize, then you should absolutely tell them what you want from them! I have a different perspective that I’d like to share though. Retailers can easily see where our dollars are going–this is kind of the point of Mark’s article. They can track consumer patterns and get all kinds of data in that respect. I prefer to put the onus on *them* to figure out how to be profitable, and in the meantime, support vendors that I believe have pure motives. For grass-fed beef, I buy online from US Wellness meats, and it’s really not inconvenient. I buy a few month’s worth at a time; it comes frozen so it goes straight into the freezer, and I never run out of protein. I think it’s more important to support smaller vendors who are doing the right thing for the right reasons–they want to create a superior product while making a profit–than it is to help big box stores figure out their business model. I would say, rather than dialogue with Costco–take your money elsewhere!! Helping smaller, more honest vendors stay in business will change the landscape of food retailing in a more significant, and better, way.

  22. Dear food producers,
    It’s time for low sugar, and I mean actually low sugar, ice cream. I mean not sweet at all. I’ll add as much sugar as I want to suit my taste. You should consider, all of us who have cut back on sugar (and there are millions more to come) are now much more sensitive to the flavor, we simply don’t need or want as much.

    We’ve been thinking this way for years re salt.

    1. Get an ice cream maker, and make your own! You can control the sugar content, and make any flavor that suits you. If you make it yourself, you don’t have to worry about weird flavorings, thickeners, etc.

      1. An ice cream maker is on my bucket list. Actually, on my Amazon list. But it’s the weird thickeners and bad dairy that concerns me. If I have ice cream, I WANT the sugar…

  23. It’s very heartening to realise that more and more people are getting a lot more concerned about what’s in their food, where the food comes from, the amount of chemicals and pesticides are used and how the animals we eat are treated with hormones and antibiotics and those horrible factory farming practices with the animals being fed who knows what chemical cocktail in their ‘pellets’ or feed.
    I’m only one person and I only ‘shop the perimeters’ in a big supermarket and that’s only when I have to. I’ve sourced out local meat, vegetable, egg and dairy producers in my area, it’s a lot more than I thought and they are well patronised as I have found out. Real free range chickens and you can see the birds out in the paddocks running around, yay!
    What is it going to take to make these big business people realise they are poisoning their customers and making them sick, fat and costing the public health systems billions of dollars every year. Yep, people do get sick but obesity, diabetes, acid reflux, arthritis and lots more things could be almost wiped out overnight with a few simple changes in diet. Big agribusiness, pharmaceuticals and the rest of them couldn’t care less about people or how sick they get. It beggars belief at times.
    Whether they like it or not there is a groundswell happening that they can’t stop and it will only get bigger as more and more people get on board eating fresh healthy single ingredient food and start healing themselves from the inside out.

    1. “What is it going to take to make these big business people realise they are poisoning their customers and making them sick, fat and costing the public health systems billions of dollars every year. Yep, people do get sick but obesity, diabetes, acid reflux, arthritis and lots more things could be almost wiped out overnight with a few simple changes in diet. Big agribusiness, pharmaceuticals and the rest of them couldn’t care less about people or how sick they get”

      You said it yourself, Pauline. They just do not care. Big Food is not in the business of making sure your dietary health needs are met. They are in the business of making money. The only reason more “natural” and “healthy” options are hitting shelves is because it’s profitable right now. They could not care less whether any one of us is healthy or ill. I have stopped looking to them to change and care. Instead, I’m declining to participate in the game.

  24. I’d like to see Hydrolysed Vegetable oil removed from all foods, and classified as a dangerous poison.

  25. Finally, it looks like the big sharks are listening to the public and changing all these things that they sneakily hid in their products. However, they are still sharks and they are still hungry. As much as it is great that they are making these changes I am guessing that they are more concerned in avoiding getting fined or in following trends in order to make more money, than in actually doing the ethical thing. The public’s health is still not the big motivator.

    Great post!

  26. Good article! Thanks Mark. I’ve long said that you can subsidize your illness with prescription drugs- or your health and wellness with healthy food!

    Here’s the thing I don’t get- these companies have had to produce different formulations for countries that do not allow artificial dyes, colors etc. for many years. Would it be not be far more cost effective to simply produce ONE formulation? I guess not.

    A few years ago my daughter went to Australia and declared she felt much better in general eating their crap- free food! ….and she’s not usually that observant regarding food as long as it taste good.

    This question also goes for skin care products. Europe, Australia etc have long banned parabens and pthalates but the same darn company will pump them full in our products here in the U.S.! This is a serious pet peeve of mine, if you couldn’t tell…

    1. It’s definitely more cost effective to produce a cheaper formulation for the US market, since it’s so big.

      The main difference, as far as I can tell, is that in the US the food manufacturers have all the power, and therefore force the cheapest possible products onto store shelves. In many parts of Europe and Australia, the food retailers have the power and can therefore dictate exactly what ingredients they do and do not want in the products, based on customer feedback.

      1. Agreed. But if stores like Whole Foods can dictate what they will and won’t carry based on ingredients, why can’t other bigger chains do the same? HEB in Texas is huge and has lots of sway.

        Hmmm… Maybe it’s time to let them know I care!

        Thanks for the reminder Michael.

        1. You’re welcome 🙂

          I think Whole Foods is special because it’s aimed at very particular (niche) demographics. No one chain in the US is large enough to give a big manufacturer an ultimatum – they’d simply stop supplying them. Even Walmart has less than 10% of the grocery market. In the UK, for example, Tesco has 30% market share, so even the food giants don’t want to risk losing that.

  27. The list of things I now buy from the local grocery store is smaller than ever before. I now get virtually all of my meat from local farmers (and from deer that we hunt ourselves); I grow a big vegetable garden, so about 60% of our veggies come from there (an additional amount comes from local farmers markets); I grow mushrooms on logs, and we forage for lots of wild foods (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, wild rice, etc). I just can’t stand to buy most of the junk you see in the stores these days, especially all the processed, boxed pseudo-food, and the CAFO meat. No thanks, I will give my hard-earned dollars to people that are growing or raising real food, that promotes health instead of damaging it.

  28. This is good news. If the majority of people bought organic foods, economies of scale would kick in from increased production and prices would come down dramatically. Vote with your dollars every time you can.