Reports Archive

DIY Certification Guide: Identifying Authentic Produce and Ethical Farmers at the Market

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

When Certified Organic Is Not Available, Ask the Right Questions at the Market

Source: Corey Templeton

As market season kicks into high gear, farm stands beckon shoppers with signs: Local! Organic! Natural! No Spray! Sustainable! Organic is defined by strict federal standards. But what do these other claims really mean, and which are worthy of support?

The Cornucopia Institute, a farm and food policy research group, has prepared a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) organic certification guide to help shoppers navigate their local markets and reward the most ethical farmers, while bringing home the healthiest food for their families, when a certified organic farm vendor is not available.

“It’s important to know that just because it’s called a farmers market, this does not mean that all of the food for sale was grown locally or organically,” said Linley Dixon, PhD, Cornucopia’s senior scientist. “There are instances of greenwashing at farmers markets, ranging from reselling industrial produce that was bought wholesale, to ‘no-spray’ and ‘natural’ signs that may, or may not, mean what you think they do,” Dixon added. Read Full Article »

Industry Watchdog: USDA Allowing Illegal “Organic” Produce Production

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

Corporate Interests Lobbying to Approve Hydroponics — Growing without Soil

Hydroponic Pepper Operation
(c) Dario Sabljak/Adobe Stock

An organic industry watchdog contends the USDA has quietly allowed a flood of hydroponically-produced fruits and vegetables, largely imported, to be illegally labeled and sold as “organic.”  This produce is generally grown under artificial lighting, indoors, and on an industrial scale.  The Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute announced they had filed a formal legal complaint against some of the largest agribusinesses involved in the practice and their organic certifying agents.

The controversy will come to a head in mid-November, when the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is expected to vote on whether or not hydroponic operations (growing without soil) should be legalized for organic certification at their semiannual meeting in St. Louis. This vote comes six years after the NOSB initially reaffirmed that hydroponics and aquaponics should be prohibited under the organic label. Read Full Article »

Report Finds Toxins/Carcinogens in Popular Brands of Toothpaste

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

Scorecard Identifies the “Dirtiest” and Safest, Even Organic, Alternatives

Toothpaste_Report_coverThe latest report by The Cornucopia Institute, an organic industry watchdog, uncovers serious problems in cosmetics industry regulations. Regulatory weaknesses and loopholes allow for the use of questionable, even harmful ingredients in personal care products, such as toothpastes, that could negatively impact the health of the users.

Behind the Dazzling Smile:  Toxic Ingredients in Your Toothpaste, describes how the quality of “natural” toothpastes varies significantly between brands and how these personal oral care products commonly include nonessential ingredients that may be harmful.

“The cosmetics industry is no different, and may be worse, than leading food companies when it comes to gimmicky ingredients and misleading health claims,” asserts the report’s lead author Jerome Rigot, PhD, a policy analyst at The Cornucopia Institute. “However, we have created a useful web-based tool to help discriminating consumers see through marketing hype and make the best decision for their family when buying toothpaste.” Read Full Article »

Scrambled Eggs: Report Contrasts Widespread Industry Fraud and USDA Complacency with True Heroes in Organics

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

Family Farmers Face Unfair Competition from “Organic” Factory Farms

CI_EggReportIndustryFraud_1Just as Americans are reacting to new medical literature encouraging the consumption of “healthy” fats, including eggs, an independent report has been released that focuses on widespread abuses in organic egg production and marketing, primarily by large industrial agribusinesses.

The study, conducted by The Cornucopia Institute, profiles exemplary management practices employed by many family-scale organic farmers engaged in egg production, while spotlighting abuses at so-called “factory farms,” some confining hundreds of thousands of chickens in industrial facilities and representing these eggs to consumers as “organic.”

Scrambled Eggs: Separating Factory Farm Egg Production from Authentic Organic Agriculture incorporates six years of research into organic egg production.  The report is accompanied by an online scorecard rating various organic brands on how their eggs are produced in accordance with federal organic standards and consumer expectations.

Cornucopia, a Wisconsin-based farm policy research group, also accuses the USDA’s National Organic Program of gross malfeasance in neglecting to protect consumers from fraud and ethical farmers from unfair competition, as Congress charged the agency to do. Read Full Article »

New Report Exposes Dangerous/Unhealthy Pet Food

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

Decoding Pet Food Labels: Avoiding Harmful Ingredients for Dogs and Cats

A new report sheds light on serious problems in pet food industry regulations and how specific loopholes allow for the use of questionable ingredients that could negatively impact companion animal health. Issued by The Cornucopia Institute, a non-profit food/farm policy research group, the report accuses some brands of using cheap ingredients, carcinogenic additives, and preservatives that are bad for long-term pet health, as well as attempting to intentionally deceive consumers with pet food labels.

The report, and an accompanying buying guide, Decoding Pet Food: Adulteration, Toxic Ingredients, and the Best Choices for Your Companion Animals, details how pet food quality varies significantly among brands and all too often includes unnecessary chemical additives.

“The pet food industry is no different than leading food marketers for humans when it comes to cheap substitutes and false health claims,” says the report’s lead author, Linley Dixon, PhD, a policy analyst at The Cornucopia Institute.

In most cases consumers get a higher quality product with certified organic brands, and in some cases with premium options marketed as “natural.” However, even these labels do not necessarily indicate that the highest quality and healthiest ingredients were used across an entire brand or whether the products contain unnecessary or potentially dangerous additives. Read Full Article »