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Burt's Bees, Tom's of Maine, Naked Juice: Your Favorite Brands? Take Another Look -- They May Not Be What They Seem

One of AlterNet's most popular articles of the year: Confident that you are buying good, socially conscious brands? Find out the real story.

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Others are not so positive about this turn of events. Judy Wickes from the Social Venture Network describes corporate takeovers of socially responsible businesses as "a threat to democracy when wealth and power are concentrated into a few hands." And David Korten, in his book, When Corporations Rule the World, explained how sustainable business "should be human scale -- not necessarily tiny firms, but preferably not more than 500 people -- always with a bias to smaller is better."

It is clear that so-called organic brands are a rapidly growing portion of the consumer dollar, and that every major food corporation has invested deeply in buying these already-established brands.

Marketing strategies have been fooling us to trust that the niche brands continue to be small, environmentally conscious businesses that combine ecologically sound practices with a political agenda to put products out on the market under a business model of "the Greater Good."

In fact, they are frequently cogs in the giant corporate wheel. I like to refer to this "other" business model as "We've Been Had." It is time for we, the consumer, to question how much the ownership and neglectful marketing of these "pseudo" responsible brands warrant crossing them off our shopping list.

And it is time to find products more in tune with our values, which include thinking small. At least until they, too, get bought out by some large conglomerate.

Andrea Whitfill is a freelance writer residing in Brooklyn, N.Y.

 
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