Dannon told to stop their commercials

Joined May 5, 2010
I had to chuckle to myself when I read the article about the FDA telling Dannon ( the makers of yogurt and Activia) that their claims were based on ambiguous and undocumented information.

Jamie Lee Curtis tells us that the products helps digestion because it contains macrobiotics......blah, blah, blah.

I knew from the beginning it was all hoohy. All yogurt contains this good bacteria, not just theirs.

As P.T. Barnum once said, "there's a sucker born every minute."  I say.....it's every second.......
Joined Apr 3, 2010
In my humble opinion the entire Organic and Whole Food concept is the biggest hoax perpertrated on the American Public. Its todays Rubiks cube and Hoola Hoop.. Write organic, diet, fat free,high fiber on anything and similar to Barnum, "They will come and buy""
Joined Jan 5, 2007
I have bought only organic meats for over 20 years.  I do not like the idea of animals being raised in any other way if I am going to eat the meat from a cow, duck, sheep or other.

In light of the high antibiotics fed to some US livestock... I'd probably end up being vegetarian!


Joined Dec 14, 2006
The problem is that the average American diet is high-fat, high-calorie, low-fiber, fast-food, junk-food, and chemical and preservative-laden.  It makes it easy for marketers to prey on the fears and guilt of consumers and advertise their products as some sort of miracle to counteract all the other crap people are eating.  If people ate a healthy diet to start with, they wouldn't be so susceptible to phony marketing claims.
Joined Aug 6, 2010
I just wish there was a legitimate, long term study about the true effects of organic vs. non-organic. As of now, I haven't seen anything that would make me want to pay $3/lb for white onions.


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
If you don't buy organic for its supposed benefits just think of the whole lot of damage that sort of farming does to the environment and the animals.

We can use the whole hog.  Really.  We don't need chickens bred for just the white meat and we don't need steers bred just for the loins.
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Joined Feb 1, 2007
Kuan, surely you don't mean that the way it comes out.

Organic growing harmful to the environment? Yeah, in the sense than any farming is an artificial construct that runs counter to the natural flow of things. But the whole point of organic methods is to preserve and protect the soil (basic axiom: if you want to grow good vegetables, grow good soil. The plants will take care of themselves).

To be sure, there are a number of problems with the "organics" available at markets, starting with the Federal rules for certification, and moving on to the simple fact that once the giant factory farms jumped on the bandwagon the whole idea was turned topsey turvey.

The basic issue is where the organics come from. For most of us, organics are connoted with small, diverse, local growers---the people who kept the idea alive for the past half-century or so. But those are not, as a rule, what you find in regular markets. That produce comes from the organics divisions of large factory farms, who use the same monocultural techniques as they do with their conventional crops. In short, no more respect for the land then they have ever shown.

For instance, ever seen how the organic factories control insect pests? They use giant vacumn cleaners, working as many as 16 rows in a single pass. On one hand, you have to be impressed with the technology. But keep in mind that those machines are sucking up every insect---including the beneficials. And something I've yet to have explained: At the end of the shift, what happens to that hopper full of insects. They have to be destroyed somehow. I suspect a toxin of some sort is used.

They are also capitalizing on the fact that consumers connote organic produce with higher prices. In the past this was true, because, for various reasons, it costs the small grower more to bring an organic crop to market. But it actually costs the factory farms less to grow an organic crop than a conventional one (anyone think all those chemicals come free). By all rights they should be charging less for them.

Contributing to the issue, and explaining why folks like Ed can easily reach the conclusion he has, are certain myths about organic vs conventional produce. Take the taste question, for instance. A vegetable plant needs 16 nutrients to grow properly and produce the best fruit. So long as those nutrients are available in soluble form, the plant doesn't care whether they come from manure or from man-made chemicals. In other words, everything else being equal, the conventional veggie and the organic one will taste the same.

And there's the rub. The organic factory farms are growing the same hybrids as their conventional divisions, and delivering them via the same food distribution system. Which, among other things, practically guarantees a lack of both flavor and nutritional value. So, yes, the organic produce generally available is a marketing shuck that capitalizes on the simple fact most consumers do not know where their food comes from or how it gets to the market. And they certainly are unaware of the role government plays in all this. How many people outside the industry, for instance, know that a tomato is legally "vine ripened" anytime after it reaches the breaker stage?

I'm going to shut up now, because it's getting hard to breathe way up here on the soapbox. But one final word: Tyler, there have been numerous studies comparing organic to conventionally grown crops and their long term effects on the land, and possible effects on health and well-being. You just have to take the time to read them (carefully weeding out those "studies" on both sides that are done by vested interests), and then reach conclusions about the value of those $3 onions.
Joined Sep 18, 2008
Unfortunately, "organic", as it refers to food products, does not refer to how food is used, only as to how food is raised/grown, and even then, there are numerous exceptions/loopholes/alternatives that are not addressed.

Until the "consumer" becomes educated/trained enough to make well informed decisions to emphasize NEEDS instead of perceived WANTS, someone out there will produce whatever the consumer will buy.

OTOH, what really is the difference between frozen organic corn kernels and frozen corn kernels, besides the price? And how do you know that for a fact?
Joined Aug 6, 2010
KY, a couple of things. First, you are correct that chemicals used to grow corn, for instance, don't come free, and therefore represent an additional cost to the grower. However, if it were that simple, why would chemicals be used at all? It's because those chemicals allow the grower to produce a higher yield, and therefore spread out fixed costs over more products. For example, let's say a farmer can produce 50 units of a crop on 1 acre, the units cost $1.00 in variable costs and $1.50 in fixed costs, and sell at market for $5. That means each unit produces $2.50 in profit. Let's then say that without using pesticides, the grower is only able to harvest 60% of the units on that acre, which brings production down to 30, and variable cost down to, let's say $0.80. However, fixed costs per unit would then be $2.50 ($75 total fixed cost/30 units), and the total cost per unit would be $3.30. At the same market price, the grower now only gets $1.70 in profit per unit, a decrease of over 30% in profits. That's why organic farmers must often charge higher prices.

there have been numerous studies comparing organic to conventionally grown crops and their long term effects on the land, and possible effects on health and well-being

I want to see something that shows more than just possible long term health effects.
Joined Apr 3, 2010
I reach the conclusions that I have based on my faith in our governmental inspection and oversight. It is almost non existent. It took the government 2 years or more to stop Dannon from their fraudulent advertising. It takes our inspection system months to find problems in our food chain, but not before making people sick. And the plants still remain open. If you recall the Jack In The Box toxic beef problems years ago . It took government 6 monthe to post recall and 2 dead children and a lot of sick people  from E-Coli. A distributor can write any kind of magic words he wants on a product for discription and in most cases wont be challenged for months. Even at that, do most people know what inert ingredients are? or polysorbate 80, or calcium phosphate. Or the new one that says product contains less then 2 % of the following . 2% of what total volume.  Sure I reach conclusions and am entitled to them. I still maintain the difference between Publix Rib Steak and Whole Foods is $2.00 per pound and thats it.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
Tyler, "chemicals" are used by factory farms precisely because the soil is all but sterile, having been totally depleted of any naturally occuring nutrients and the organisms called the micro-herd that make up healthy soil. That's one of the many problems with monoculture.

So, they have to pour fertilizer over everything so the crop can feed. But that also promotes the growth of weeds, so a herbicide is needed. And, to eliminate insects they need pesticides. And fungicides. And..... well, you get the picture. It's not so much increased production as being able to get production at all.

I don't know where you got those comparative figures, but they don't even come close. Among other things, chemicals have to be paid for by the grower. But those incredibly impressive pieces of special equipment used by the organics divisions come with all sorts of subsidies; meaning that you and I are bearing much of the fixed cost. Even if we were to accept your figures, however, the profit margin is way off. If the item is selling for $5, it represents mark-ups all along the way. The trucking company gets a piece, and the distributor(s), and the owner of the cold-storage warehouse, and the market itself.

There is a reason why Monsanto consistently refuses to reveal the profit levels of its organics divisions. Ever wonder what that reason could be?

As to health concerns. Intuitively, we all know that ingesting all those chemicals can't be good for us. But if you need a dramatic real-world example, don't forget that for 60 years we were told by big agriculture and the gubmint that DDT was safe. Uh, huh! Did it suddenly become unsafe in the 61st year? Or is that the first time an objective study was done?

Understand, please, that I am not arguing for or against either position. What I am arguing for is that people gather the facts before formulating an opinion, and if they're going to make comparisons that they compare like to like. In this case, the organic produce you buy in the supermarket and the organic produce you buy from a diverse, local grower, are not the same things. To believe so leads to opinions such as Ed's that "the whole thing is a shuck." What he fails to accept (this isn't the first time we've had this discussion) is that there isn't a whole thing. There is a thing with many parts, some almost the same, and others totally dissimilar.

If we're going to be talking about agriculture, and how food is produced and delivered, we must start with one premise: We, in America, have been trained for more than 125 years to expect food that is both plentiful and inexpensive. In order to continue that rubric (assuming that it's both worthwhile and possible) means making certain sacrifices. Among those is a loss of quality. Despite the skyrocketed cost of disel fuel, for instance, transportation remains the least expensive cost element in the food distribution system. But to take advantage of it means, far too often, tasteless, nutritionally lacking produce and animal proteins and foodstuffs that are lower quality than we've had in the past.

You're example about onions is germane. Why is it that onions, nowadays, are so low quality compared to the past? We bring them home from the store to find rotty layers, and green sprouts, and all sorts of similar problems. That's one of the penelties of the food distribution system. On the other hand, locally grown, organic onions, by the nature of the beast, don't have those problems. But the trade-off is both cost and availability.

Consider this: Once you trim away the bad parts, what is the actual cost of onions based on usable quantities? One difference between the food distribution system and locally grown is that with local farms, the grower bears the cost of spoilage. With the food distribution system, the consumer does. I'm talking direct costs, now. Ultimately the consumer pays either way; with higher prices for better quality from the local grower, or with a higher percentage of wastage with the regular distribution system.

We blythly talk about using famers markets, and locally grown, and true organics, and CSAs. But the fact is, if these were ever more than a small percentage of the food we consume the demand couldn't be met. There isn't enough land, close to the consumer, to accomplish what the locovores want, nor enough available organic materials to convert to non-chemical farming, etc. Not so long as we continue demanding cheap, plentiful food.

Add in the lack of oversight by the agencies responsible for it (now there's something Ed and I will never disagree on), and the rather ridiculous (and unpublicized) food definitions, and it's understandable why so many people are confused. And, as you've found, it isn't easy to research these questions. There are at least three apparently objective "scientific" groups that are fronts for Monsanto, for instance, and at least four that secretly represent organic and other alternative interests. In each case, their "findings" are suspect at best.
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Joined Sep 5, 2008
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer  

We blythly talk about using famers markets, and locally grown, and true organics, and CSAs. But the fact is, if these were ever more than a small percentage of the food we consume the demand couldn't be met. There isn't enough land, close to the consumer, to accomplish what the locovores want, nor enough available organic materials to convert to non-chemical farming, etc. Not so long as we continue demanding cheap, plentiful food.
I don't buy that argument. There is so much waste and we eat way too much anyway, especially way too much proteins. If we only ate what we really need for a balanced diet, then there'd be plenty enough for growing everything in an organic way, organic-certified or not. But as long as every single child in America will throw away half their lunch meal in the trash, and as long as restaurants will continue serving 16oz steaks and 3-meal portions, you're right, organic only won't be enough to cover our "cheap, plentiful" demands. 

Funny: today I was on a trip and went to a random restaurant on the side of the road to buy some mac and cheese for my kid. I ordered from the Children's menu, one child-size portion of mac and cheese. I came back to the car with two big "to-go" boxes, and my wife thought I had made a mistake. "What did you order?". One box was a portion of mac and cheese that was big enough to feed my kid, my wife and myself, and the other box was garlic/butter/bread that we brought back home for dinner. When I see that, the argument that growing all organic wouldn't be enough to feed the planet makes me smile.
Joined Aug 6, 2010
KY, to be clear, my example was a simplified example. I have no problem with organically grown foods, and believe that on average they are probably healthier. But it's hard to justify such higher prices when we just can't be sure.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
KY, to be clear, my example was a simplified example

Tyler, I understand that you were just trying to demonstrate a point. The problem is, you can prove anything if you just make up figures. The question isn't so much your numbers as the basic premise. For instance, taking the same approach, I can draw an example that shows factory organics production equalling 98% of conventional. What happens to your profitability comparison then?

You can easily look up the costs of bringing crops to market; both conventional and organic. Try using those numbers (one caveat: make sure the organic production costs are based on factory farms rather than smal diverse farms---most times they're not, and the cost factors are radically different). Then see what happens to your basic premise.

"Organic," right now, is a trendy thing, with great consumer appeal. As such, the high prices at market do not represent production and delivery costs. The factory farms are over-charging; and they're doing so for the same reason a dog licks his butt---because he can.

The sad thing is, while legally organic, the produce delivered by the factory farms actually lacks the benefits of true organic produce, whatever they happen to be.
Joined Aug 13, 2006
I have a friend who is a biologist and epidemiologist and a researcher.  She's specialized in the epidemiology of work hazards, in particular for agricultural workers.  She said in the areas that produce most of Italy's fruits and vegetables, diseases like leukemia and other cancers are extremely high, in particular among the workers who handle the fruit, vegetables, even among florists.  Those chemicals are in the food we all eat.  No wonder I always run into her in the local organic food store.  I don;t know her specific studies, but she works for the national institute of health through the university, I believe, and they're all published in reputable peer-review journals - not, of course, funded by chemical companies or big agriculture.
Joined Jul 28, 2006
. All yogurt contains this good bacteria, not just theirs.
 This is not exactly true.  While all yogurt begins with live cultures, unless the container they are sold in says they contain live cultures, chances are they do not.  However, I agree that the Activia commericals are just a devious way to charge more for a product that is no better than Dannon's regular yogurt. 

And how about the ones with fiber in them?   Why would you  just because they added fiber,  when you can get your fiber a lot cheaper o?  How stupid do they think we all are?
Joined Feb 1, 2007
How stupid do they think we all are?

Considering how much of that stuff they sell, Grace, the answer should be self evident.
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