Organic food has grown from a fringe movement several decades ago to massive global industry. Not all organic food companies are as wholesome as they claim, but checking out the cream of the crop is worth your time.
Eden Foods was rated as the most credible of all natural food brands by the website Organic Authority. They are the oldest independently owned organic food company in North America and the largest manufacturer of organic dry goods. Though the company has chosen not to use the USDA certified organic label on their packaging, Eden Foods products are actually certified through the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) and under the USDA National Organic Program (NOP).
Offering a variety of staples, ranging from soy milk to canned beans, and specialty foods, like seaweed, their product line is enormous and inclusive. All of their food is GMO-free. They are based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and have worked for decades to develop a network of growers and processors in the Upper Midwest to keep their business as local as possible.
Organic Valley is the #3 brand listed in the Better World Shopper directory of the world's best companies. It is a member owned cooperative of organic dairy farmers that has grown to be the number one source of organic milk in the United States. Organic Valley began in Wisconsin in the late eighties, where it is still based today. All Organic Valley products are USDA certified organic.
The farmer-members sell their milk under a single Organic Valley label, allowing them access to a high volume market that is otherwise difficult for small family farmers to enter. Besides various grades of milk, the cooperative offers butter, cheese, eggnog and other dairy products along with a small line of meats and eggs.
Amy's is the one of the healthiest frozen food brands in the U.S. according Medical Daily. They started out in Sonoma County, California in the late eighties and remain one of the few large independent organic food companies. Over half of their produce still comes from within a 200 mile radius of their main production facility.
Amy's is known for their prepared vegetarian meals, especially their line of Mexican-themed entrees. However, they also offer a variety of canned products. All Amy's products are certified by Quality Assurance International as 'organic', meaning at least 95 percent of the ingredients are produced with organic methods, or 'made with organic ingredients', meaning 70 to 95 percent of the ingredients are organic.
Lundberg Family Farms
Lundberg is a large organic rice grower in California's Sacramento Valley, where the family has been growing rice using natural methods since the late 1930s. They have 16,000 acres under cultivation and have received many awards, including Grow California's 2011 Innovation in Energy and Agriculture award, for their commitment to earth stewardship.
Lundberg offer packaged rice including blends of different varieties mixed with other grains. They also sell products like rice cakes, rice syrup and rice flour. Seventy percent of their rice is certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), while the remainder is grown using natural methods without being certified. All of their products are GMO-free.
Earthbound is a large-scale producer of packaged organic salad greens. Over a 20-year period they've grown from a 2.5 acre backyard farm in Carmel Valley, California to a 47,000-acre operation with distribution in 75 percent of American supermarkets. The company has won numerous awards and recognition for their commitment to healthy food and sustainable practices, including a 2012 Responsible Packaging Award.
Earthbound sources their greens and vegetables from certified organic growers across the western United States and has recently diversified into packaged fruit, which is sourced from countries around the world to provide a year-round supply. All Earthbound products are certified organic by the USDA.
A small organic dairy farm with a big following, Butterworks is primarily known for their yogurt. Cornucopia Institute gave them the highest overall quality rating of any yogurt company. All Butterworks products are certified organic by Vermont Organic Farmers.
Butterworks has been in business since 1979 and is located in the Green Mountains of Vermont. It is run by a multi-generational farming family and offers kefir, cream, buttermilk and several grain products in addition to their yogurt.
Applegate Natural and Organic Meats
Applegate offers more than two dozen organic meat and cheese products and has been endorsed as one of the top sources for organic animal products from a long list of publications, including Real Simple and Men's Health. The majority of their products are certified organic by the USDA, while the remainder are antibiotic and GMO-free natural meats.
From hot dogs to frozen turkey burgers to packaged lunches for kids, Applegate has been in business for ocer 25 years and boasts an extensive product line that directly supports the livelihoods of nearly 1000 sustainable farmers across the country. The company also actively promotes sustainable agriculture through partnerships with non-profit organizations, like the National Young Farmers Coalition.
Best of the Best
Organic foods are considered better for our bodies and for the planet. When perusing the options at the grocery store, look for the brands that are cut above the rest, such as those listed here.