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EarthGrains® Bread with “Eco-Grain™”

“100% Natural”

Organic Bread

(Any Brand)

organic seal

Reduce Fertilizer Applications to the Minimum Necessary to Create Healthy Plant Growth
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No Synthetic Fertilizers*
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No Toxic Pesticides, herbicides or fungicides*
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Improve Soil Health*
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Protect Biodiversity*
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No Chemical Solvents used in processing*
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No Genetic Engineering*
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All Claims Independently verified by Annual Third-Party Inspections by USDA-Accredited Certifiers*
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* Required by federal law (Organic Food Production Act of 1990; see 7 CFR 205)

Table of Contents

The Real Differences

“100% Natural” versus Organic organic seal

Eco-Grain™, used in Sara Lee’s “100% Natural” EarthGrains® bread, claims to be “more sustainable,” and grown using farming methods that have “advantages over organic farming.” Whatever the self-promoted benefits of Eco-Grain™ might be, the most astounding aspect of Sara Lee’s marketing campaign is that only 20% of EarthGrains® 24-ounce bread loaves contain EcoGrain™. Other EarthGrains® bread products contain 0% Eco-Grain™.

The table above, and summaries below, reveal the real differences between “100% Natural” EarthGrains® bread and any brand of organic bread bearing the USDA Certified Organic seal.

Synthetic Fertilizers

Eco-Grain farmers use “precision agriculture” when applying synthetic, petroleum-based fertilizers to their fields. By using precision agriculture, they achieve an estimated 15% reduction in the use of synthetic fertilizer. Since only 20% of EarthGrains wheat is “Eco-Grain™,” the total reduction in fertilizer use for EarthGrains bread amounts to a mere 3%.

Organic farmers are required by law to use non-synthetic, non-petroleum based fertilizers. Instead, they build long-term soil health through applying naturally derived fertilizers, composting, crop rotation, and cover cropping. This leads to a 100% reduction in synthetic fertilizer use.

Environmental Effects of Synthetic Fertilizer Use:

A Loaf of EarthGrains®

(contains 80% conventional wheat, 20% “Eco-Grain™” wheat)

A Loaf of Organic Bread

(Contains 100% organic grains)

Reduction in Synthetic Fertilizer Use



Pesticide Use

Conventional wheat growers, such as those growing wheat for EarthGrains bread, commonly use toxic and environmentally hazardous pesticides such as 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and 4-chloro-2-methylphenoxyacetic acid (MCPA).[4] [5]

Organic farmers are required by law to eliminate their use of toxic pesticides such as 2,4-D, MCPA or similar commonly used pesticides. Organic wheat farmers use alternative pest control methods, primarily crop rotations, to protect their crops from pests.

The bill specifies that the program should be carried out in a manner that integrates food safety standards and guidance with sustainable agriculture and conservation systems.

Environmental Effects of the Pesticide 2,4-D: Public Health Effects of the pesticide 2,4-D:

Soil Fertility

Sara Lee claims that its “Eco-Grain™” farmers are “stewards of the land.” Yet these conventional EarthGrains farmers still apply synthetic, petroleum-based fertilizers to their land every year to maintain high yields, instead of building the long-term health of their soil.

Organic farmers are required by law to build soil fertility in ecological ways. They use cover crops, crop rotation and composting to sustain healthy farmland. Research shows that these organic methods substantially increase soil fertility,[11] increase diversity of beneficial soil microorganisms,[12] and reduce soil erosion.[13]


Sara Lee claims that Eco-Grain farmers are “kind to the environment,” yet their use of conventional, monoculture farming practices do nothing to improve biodiversity. Studies have shown that organic farming methods benefit wildlife around farms, especially birds.[14]

Research shows that biodiversity tends to be greater on organic farms than on conventional farms.[15] Organic producers are mandated by law to protect diverse biological systems on their farms.

Chemical Solvents

EarthGrains “100% Natural” bread contains conventional soy ingredients, like soy oil, soy flour and soy lecithin. These ingredients are almost universally processed with a chemical solvent, hexane. Food processors are the country’s major contributors to air pollution from hexane, which leads to the formation of smog, a serious public health hazard. It is highly explosive and has caused serious injuries and deaths to workers in food plants.

Organic bakers use expeller-pressed oils instead of hexane-extracted oils and flours. They are prohibited from using chemical solvents such as hexane, with the exception of some soy lecithin that is unavailable in organic form. Organic consumers should check the label of organic bread to ensure that, if “soy lecithin” is used, it is “organic soy lecithin.”

Hexane is:

Genetic Engineering

EarthGrains “100% Natural” bread uses conventional soy ingredients. The vast majority, 92%, of non-organic soybeans grown in the United States are genetically engineered. Bakers like Sara Lee are not required to disclose the use of genetically engineered ingredients (as is required in Europe), and are permitted use the “100% Natural” label even if genetically engineered ingredients are present.

Federal law prohibits Organic bakers from using any genetically engineered ingredients.

Download the Fact Sheet in PDF form.


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