A Tale of two Ketchups

From Bob Oaks

Heinz organic ketchup is probably a more sound political choice than Woodstock Foods organic ketchup — even though Heinz smacks of “big corporate” to most people.  The fact is that UNFI’s Woodstock brand is also big corporate despite its considerable efforts at green-washing.

Heinz ketchup was actually the first commercially produced “health food” condiment and its founder,  H. J. Heinz led a successful lobbying effort in favor of the first Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906 and developed a ketchup recipe that didn’t use the conventional benzoate preservatives.

Heinz also grows its tomatoes “the old fashioned way” — by selectively cultivating and saving non-GMO seed stocks.  The company’s website says its product is “Traceable From Seed to Plate: Consumers can rest assured that each tomato in a bottle of Heinz® Ketchup, from seed to vine to bottle, can be chronicled through a code on the cap. A look at this code allows Heinz to determine the farms the tomatoes were grown on, the details about where the Ketchup was bottled and even what varieties of HeinzSeed seeds were used.”  Woodstock Foods offers no similar assurances and trying to track its product sources or manufacturing facilities is like trying to find the nut in a cleverly manipulated shell game.

Heinz also began as a company famously based on sound employee relations and humane benefits packages, which although perhaps diminished at times and in places over the years, has remained generally praise worthy with 60% of its workforce in the US and Canada covered by collective bargaining agreements.  The same cannot be said for UNFI and its Woodstock Foods brand.  There is currently a labor action against UNFI in Washington (see: http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_26754.cfm).

So in just one man’s opinion (mine), I’d rather see a conventional product like Heinz stocked at the Co-op and not just its “organic” ketchup version — Heinz also markets no salt and reduced sweetener varieties although the last two contain HFC’s.  At least our member shoppers can read the labels and be reasonably sure they know what they’re getting.

Permanent link to this article: http://missoulafoodcoop.com/a-tale-of-two-ketchups/

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  1. Bob Oaks

    I believe that is correct about the organic certification Seth (your first comment and Cole’s response). There must be someone who can track the provenance of the Woodstock Brand tomatoes, I couldn’t. Are they grown somewhere in the US?; imported (fair trade or not) from other countries?; aggregated before processing? (Ask Jerry sometime about “organic” milk in some parts of the country). As an aside, unlike “organic” when you run into the description “all natural” it doesn’t really mean much of anything, but you probably already knew that.

    BTW, General Mills is starting to label its “original” Cheerios non-GMO. Since there are no GMO oats, yet. Tthat means the company is forswearing GMO corn starch and GMO sugar beets for that particular brand (Honey Nut Cheerios — not so much). As trivial as this may seem, at least it’s an indication that that the big corporation is well aware of consumers beginning to take notice.

  2. Gene Bernofsky

    Say Bobby, what kinda kickback are you getting from Heinz? Heinz is owned by Warren Buffet the corrupt rich white boy running his lethal BNSF oil and coal trains through Missoula. and indeed right behind the Co-op. Please pass OFF the tainted ketchup.

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