Earth Balance Betrays Consumers With False Non-GMO and Organic Claims
Earth Balance is a company that claims to "take the health of our planet just as seriously as we take the wellness of our customers." They also assert this position with a Non-GMO commitment believing in "environmental protection and agricultural methods that work in harmony with nature." When we investigated Earth Balance, we found these statements to be purely superficial marketing tactics designed to deceive consumers into purchasing foods manufactured with ingredients which completely contradict their corporate philosophy statements.
Many Kashi lovers were in disbelief after my report revealing the deceptive claims made by their breakfast products. As a Kellogg company, Kashi stays true their corporate masters and riddles their products with genetically modified (GM) and pesticide loaded ingredients.
The reason more organic and natural brands are being exposed is twofold: First, many of them are being bought out by large multi-national corporate food giants who then adopt their own protocols, including diminished standards of quality and deceptive policy practices considered normal across the industry; and second, agricultural and labeling practices have become so lax and unregulated by the USDA and other organic certification agencies, that they are practically redundant in terms of any protection to the consumer.
The largest food giants have one goal--profit. They couldn't care less about the end consumer, their safety or the growing needs of a family, especially if that involves maintaining integrity through health conscious food choices. That's why they produce the cheapest quality food on Earth with little nutritional value and maximum profit potential.
Health conscious consumers became wise to
their game long ago. So the food giants had to evolve to continue to increase profits and capture these segments of the population they had lost. As small organic brands proliferated, they were bought out by the big boys who had the money, resources and branding power to reformulate high quality products into inferior substandard duplicates. This has happened to hundreds of organic brands and so the cycle continues.
There are now hundreds of trendy brands
promoting a plant-based diet and earth-friendly lifestyle through their online portals and social communities. They attract raw foodies, vegans, vegetarians and just about anybody else who thrives on an alternative source to our troubled conventional food supply. These trendy umbrella affiliates have become very creative in how they reach out to the health conscious communities.
Earth Balance is just one of them.
Why You Should Never Buy Earth Balance Products
Earth Balance is a division of GFA Brands, Inc., an operating affiliate and subsidiary of Smart Balance. So who are they?
Smart Balance buttery spreads were first introduced in 1995 by GFA Brands. The company was previously known as Boulder Specialty Brands, Inc., and had its initial public offering in 2005. They changed their name to Smart Balance, Inc. in May 2007, when they acquired GFA Brands, Inc., a privately held company, which owned the Smart Balance and Earth Balance brands.
Their products can be found in almost every mainstream supermarket chain in the U.S. and Canada, as well as many larger format stores. Earth Balance products are found primarily in natural food as well as a growing number of regular supermarkets.
Smart Balance is already a fairly big player in their market niche. Their net sales are well over 300 million per year with well established profits and operating incomes that would impress any shareholder. But they didn't get there by using the best ingredients and staying true to the people that bought into their market. They got there by using artful persuasion and malicious practices which deceive people into purchasing a message about food rather than a food that epitomizes the message.
Before I dive further into the details of Earth Balance products, I would like to categorically state that even before investigating this company, I never ate or purchased any of their products. I've always considered their product line junk food. In my opinion, healthy food does not contain processed GMO oils and Soy and it never will.
These are two of the ingredients commonly used in many Earth Balance food products. Neither are a health food and both can cause serious health problems in the long-term.
Soy is very problematic crop. Non-organic sources of soy in many agricultural practices are being passed off as organic. In 2011, the USDA uncovered a plot to import fraudulent organic certificates produced by an uncertified supplier in China. The Chinese firm used the counterfeit certificate to represent non-organic crops, including soybeans, millet and buckwheat, as certified organic.
Any ingredient listed as soybean or soy on any product ingredient list has a 93% chance of being GMO if it is not listed as organic.
These types of things are happening every year and only a fraction are being discovered. Even domestically sourced organic soybean crops are now being investigated for having
GMO origins. You cannot trust the soy conglomerates. The industry has dumped millions into persuading people that soy is a health food when it's really a junk food, especially modern soy in all its processing.
There are very few types of soy that are healthy for the body and all go through a very slow stringent fermentation processes, none of which you will ever obtain in a processed food spread or milk.
The bottom line when it comes to soy is that we are all participating in what Daniel M. Sheehan, former senior toxicologist with the FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research, has called a “large, uncontrolled and basically unmonitored human experiment.”
After the public health scare (or fear mongering) in the 1970s over animal fats, sales of vegetable oils of all types increased. It was the established wisdom that those oils high in polyunsaturated fatty acids were especially beneficial. The obsession with polyunsaturated versus saturated fats led researchers and nutritionists to overlook some of the other features of vegetable oils that we now know are crucial to health, including:
Susceptibility to rancidity;
Ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids and its relevance in inflammatory diseases and immune system function;
Possible presence of irritating or toxic compounds in particular plant oils.
Although Chinese and Indian peoples have long used rapeseed oil in cooking, it was not refined and processed to the extent of modern commercial methods, and it was never considered to be a high quality oil for human consumption.
Canola oil contains a long-chain fatty acid called erucic acid, which is especially irritating to mucous membranes; canola oil consumption has been correlated with development of fibrotic lesions of the heart, CNS degenerative disorders, lung cancer, and prostate cancer, anemia, and constipation.
The long-chain fatty acids found in canola have been found to destroy the sphingomyelin surrounding nerve cells in the brain, in some cases leading to a degenerative brain condition remarkably similar to mad-cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy); in advanced cases the brain tissue develops a Swiss-cheese-like appearance, full of holes. Illnesses and conditions that have been associated with canola oil consumption include loss of vision (retinal capillaries are very sensitive and easily damaged), and a wide range of neurological disorders.
Today, even those who are moderately educated about nutrition understand that Canola (also known as rapeseed) is not a health food and it could not possibly ever be classified as organic due to its breeding and origin.
The toxic properties of the rape plant are cyanide-containing compounds called isothiocyanates. Wild animals will not eat the plant and many farmers report that their animals will not eat feed contaminated with canola.
In various studies, experimental rats fed canola oil developed fatty degeneration of the heart, kidney, adrenals, and thyroid gland. On withdrawing the canola oil from their diets, the deposits dissolved but scar tissue remained on all vital organs.
Genetically modified Canola was derived in the 70s from cross-breeding of multiple lines of the rape plant to produce a much lower percentage of
erucic acid, a known food borne toxin. Thus, Canola is GMO by design and organic canola is a misnomer. It's another industry tactic to make consumers believe something is organic in nature which has never been by origin.
In the last 20 years we have seen a dramatic increase in muscular disorders such as multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy. Soy and Canola oils are players in the outbreak of these disease conditions. So are the organophosphates--insecticides such as malthion-- used in food production in the name of efficiency.
Canola contains fats that experts say should not be exposed to heat, yet it is usually exposed to high temperatures, and then deodorized and bleached. It has been shown to deplete vitamin E levels in mammals. The plant itself (rapeseed) is an insect repellent and used in industrial manufacturing. Soybean oil has been linked to breast cancer and its high levels of Omega-6s linked to inflammatory diseases and its omega-3s converted into the undesirable trans form. Even "lightly refined" and "expeller pressed oils can be exposed to deodorizing, which may raise the oil temperature to a sizzling 450 deg F. When metabolized in the body, it produces the latex-like substance that causes the agglutination of red blood cells.
GMO Sugar Beets (TOXIC)
In July 2012 genetically modified sugar beets got a sweet pass from the USDA. The agency announced that the crop posed no pest risk and would therefore be deregulated, much to the disappointment of groups like the Center for Food Safety, Organic Seed Alliance, High Mowing Organic Seeds and the Sierra Club, that challenged the agency in a lawsuit stretching back to 2008, on the premise that not enough research had been done over the environmental impacts of the genetically engineered crop.
Nearly 95 percent of the U.S. sugar beet production is grown from genetically modified seeds -- a swift change from 2005 when they were first approved for planting. More than half of U.S. domestic sugar production comes from sugar beets, the remainder comes from sugar cane.
At one point there was a nationwide ban imposed on GMO sugar beets and it was overturned the next business day. It is the jurisdiction of the US Department of Agriculture to determine whether plants are environmentally safe; this case is about whether the plants can cross pollinate (by wind, insects, etc) and contaminate other plants. However, the USDA never properly assigns itself a responsible enough position to investigate this task because it would cost Monsanto billions of dollars and we wouldn't want that.
Palm Fruit oil is taken from the fruit of the oil palm tree. It comes from the same part of the palm tree as regular palm oil.
Indonesia has achieved its goal of becoming one of the two largest palm-oil producers and exporters in the world. But at what cost?
At least half of the world’s wild orangutans have disappeared in the last 20 years; biologically viable populations of orangutans have been radically reduced in size and number; and 80 percent of the orangutan habitat has either been depopulated or totally destroyed. The trend shows no sign of abating: government maps of future planned land use show more of the same, on an increasing scale.
In Malaysia, peat swamp forests are being obliterated, and the disappearing forests endangering the habitat of the “pygmy elephant -- the smallest elephant on Earth -- the clouded leopard, the long-nosed tapir and many rare birds.”
As word spreads about the devastation that palm oil cultivation can cause, people are beginning to take notice and companies are beginning to make changes. Sustainable palm oil is in its infancy, and according to Worldwatch Institute, palm oil sustainability criteria remain controversial.
Palm Fruit Oil is simply another ingredient that needs to be banned from our food supply. We don't need it if it's not sustainable in the health of our ecosystems or wildlife.
Fully chemically processed sap from the agave plant is known as hydrolyzed high fructose inulin syrup. It needs to be hydrolyzed so that the complex fructosans are "broken down" into fructose units or it won't be sweet!
According to Dr. Ingrid Kohlstadt, a fellow of the American College of Nutrition and an associate faculty member at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health:
“[Agave is] almost all fructose, highly processed sugar with great marketing.”
Depending upon where the agave comes from and the amount of heat used to process it, your agave syrup can be anywhere from 55 percent to 90 percent fructose, whereas sugar and honey are closer to 50% fructose and 50% glucose. Fructose is much sweeter than glucose, and this chemical makeup also explains why the glycemic index is lower (it only takes glucose into account).
This range of fructose content hardly makes agave syrup a logical choice if you’re hoping to avoid the high levels of fructose in HFCS (high fructose corn syrup).
Since most agave syrup has such a high percentage of fructose, your blood sugar will likely spike just as it would if you were consuming regular sugar or HFCS, and you would also run the risk of raising your triglyceride levels. It’s also important to understand that whereas the glucose in other sugars are converted to blood glucose, fructose is a relatively unregulated source of fuel that your liver converts to fat and cholesterol.
A significant danger here is that fructose does not stimulate your insulin secretion, nor enhance leptin production, which is thought to be involved in appetite regulation.
Fructose may also interfere with your body’s ability to metabolize copper. This can result in depletion of collagen and elastin, which are vital connective tissues. A copper deficiency can also result in anemia, fragile bones, defects in your arteries, infertility, high cholesterol and heart disease, and uncontrolled blood sugar levels.
Additionally, fructose consumption has been shown to significantly increase uric acid. Elevated levels of uric acid are markers for heart disease. It has also been shown to increase blood lactic acid, especially in diabetics. Elevations in lactic acid can result in metabolic acidosis.
Isolated fructose has no enzymes, vitamins or minerals and can rob your body of these nutrients in order to assimilate itself. Hence, consumption of fructose can also lead to loss of vital minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc.
Soy in all of Earth Balance's Soymilk does not follow the slow stringent fermentation process necessary to make soy non-toxic. Consequently the entire Soymilk product line is toxic by their primary ingredient.
The entire Soymilk line also contains Carrageenan, which acts as an emulsifer and stabilizer. All Carrageenan is typically extracted using powerful alkaline solvents. Even at low doses, it has been found to destroy human cells and is linked to various human cancers and digestive disorders.
Carrageenan has also been found to impair and depress cell-mediated immunity and cause the proliferation of tumour growth. The mechanism responsible for carrageenan-induced immune suppression is believed to be its selective degenerative effect on white blood cells.
After reviewing all of the above, is this a company that takes the health of our planet just as serious as they do health and wellness? They do not protect the environment or source ingredients from agricultural methods that work in harmony with nature. They do not uphold their Non-GMO commitment and they continue to use toxic emulsifiers and sweeteners.
Earth Balance should be ashamed of their misrepresentation and I urge you to help educate others by sharing this information with as many health conscious consumers as possible. The only way we will stimulate a call for action and bring a greater sense of integrity to the health food industry is by exposing companies like Smart Balance and their subsidiary Earth Balance.
Natasha Longo has a master's degree in nutrition and is a certified fitness and nutritional counselor. She has consulted on public health policy and procurement in Canada, Australia, Spain, Ireland, England and Germany.