Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Organic Corporation: An Oxymoron?

So we had this assignment for class tomorrow night. The professor asked us to watch a bunch of YouTube videos about Stoneyfield Farms that were basically all made BY Stoneyfield Farms and wanted us to write up what we thought about their business practices on our online discussion board. Naturally, everyone, like the sheep they are, was immediately sold on the company being totally green and wonderful and helping local farmers, etc, blah blah blah. I didn't entirely buy it, it's a $330 million company! So, I did a little more investigating. If you're interested, here are the YouTube videos we watched:

Stoneyfield Farms

Yogurt on a mission


Make Money, Save the World




And here is my response to them:

The YouTube videos about Stoneyfield paint the picture of an ideal organic and green company driven by ethical and world-conscious principles. These principles and some of their endeavors are completely noble: being a part of a greater green movement through recycling efforts, going beyond just selling products, promoting commuting via rail and offsetting carbon emissions, etc. The idea of creating a community and starting from the ground up with ambition and little money is remarkable.

However, what has happened since they have become a $330 million company is not entirely in the same vain, according to some other accounts. Stoneyfield utilizes many small organic farms across the country to procure their milk, etc for the purpose of distribution under their corporate name, but does it pay enough to these small farms and farmers to give them an equal share and opportunity? According to some accounts, it does not. One article I read claims that it simply does not pay local farmers their fair share of the profits. Other accounts attack the company for not backing up health claims that they label their food with (article here) as well as lobbying for loose regulations and restrictions for USDA pasture and feed requirements (article here). Not to mention, have you noticed the high cost of their products?

Stoneyfield farms is certainly a company making strides toward being green, earth-friendly, consumer conscious and organic. Many of their efforts are entirely commendable, but the high profits and corporatization of the company make me question whether or not sustaining these base and founding principles is entirely possible.

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