Monthly Archives: July 2009

Silk is Non-Organic Soy

The Silk brand has grown to be pretty much synonymous with soy milk. If you ask for a cow milk alternative where I live, it’s pretty much guaranteed that’s what you’ll get. My husband prefers the taste of it too (I prefer a local store brand) so we buy it on a weekly basis.

With that in mind, I was quite upset when I found out that Silk has changed over their main product line to non-organic soy.

Back in 2002, Silk was purchased by Dean Foods, an agribusiness giant and the largest milk processor in the U.S. The company has been slowly introducing non-organic versions of many of their products, including their Horizon brand cow milk. Dean Foods say they are doing this to take advantage of a market that cannot afford their organic line.

I believe they’ve deliberately kept these changes as low profile as possible. With the Silk soy milk, they kept the exact same carton design. They subtly replaced the word Organic on the box with Natural and removed the Certified Organic logo. That is it- same colors, same wording, same everything! Sources say they didn’t alert manufacturers and even kept the same UPC code and price point. The change is near invisible!

We buy a box a week, and were only recently made aware when the Organic Consumers Association brought it to our attention. I don’t know how long it would have taken us to notice on our own. (I guess this serves as a reminder to re-check labels on occasion, even for brands we think we know and love.)

We shop almost exclusively at our local whole foods co-op, but neither they nor our closest regular grocery store are carrying the new organic line. I think if they had been, we might have noticed the juxtaposition as the box designs are quite different. But by introducing the new product with the old packaging, they’ve tried to maintain their market share. For people that don’t drink soy milk on a regular basis but may use it at their business, there’s no way they’ve noticed the difference, and many will not care. The higher price means they’re unlikely to switch since it would affect their profit

I emailed my concerns to Dean Foods via their new Silk web site, and received two responses, one obviously meant to be sent prior to making the changes in January of this year.

“Thank you for your recent e-mail to Silk. We appreciate your interest in our products.

We’re making some changes at Silk and want you to be in the loop. Since we were founded, we’ve been dedicated to bringing the benefits of soymilk to as many people as possible-which means offering more choices whenever possible. That’s why starting in January, we’ll be expanding our product line to include both organic and natural options in several of our popular flavors.

Our certified organic options will remain the same as they are today, but you’ll find them in stylish new packaging. Starting in January, look for Silk Organic Plain, Vanilla, and Unsweetened refrigerated half-gallons in their new cartons, clearly labeled as organic.

In addition, our full line of refrigerated soymilks in all sizes will be available as natural products, made from soybeans that have not been genetically modified (non-GMO). You’ll recognize them in packages that look much like our existing line, clearly labeled as natural.

Both our organic and natural product lines offer the same delicious taste and wholesome nutrition you count on from Silk.

Why’d We Do It?
For you, for us and for the planet. At a time when all food costs are on the rise, this change allows us to keep our prices reasonable, so more people can afford to make Silk an everyday healthy choice. It’s also good for the planet: Broadening our offering allows us to source both natural and organic beans in North America, which conserves energy by
keeping our food miles-and yours-lower.

As always, we’re committed to being your favorite soymilk, and a partner in your healthy lifestyle. Enjoy the new choices!

Thanks again for contacting the Consumer Affairs Department.”


“Thank you for your recent e-mail to Silk. We appreciate your interest in our products.

We produce products that meet the needs of a considerable number of consumers. We look for nutritional, ingredient and flavor profiles that have a broad appeal to a wide variety of consumer tastes and nutritional preferences.

We are sorry to hear that Silk Soymilk did not meet your specific needs and hope you give one of our many different products a try.

Thanks again for contacting the Consumer Affairs Department.”

I take issue with some of these statements. The price point is the same for the now non-organic version, which means it’s no more affordable for the masses. While it’s great that the new organic line will be non-GMO, it’s not at all good for the planet that now they’ll be acquiring much more soy that is not! While I’m glad that they’re no longer sourcing their soybeans from overseas suppliers, I can’t approve of the changes purely on the basis of food miles alone. And whose “consumer tastes” or “nutritional needs” require the purchase of non-organic soy?

If it were left up to me, I don’t think we’d be buying their products anymore. They cannot be trusted, are selling out organic farmers, and are responsible for the misery of so many dairy cows. It seems I’m not alone. People are unhappy with the way the Silk changes played out. It seems dishonest. Doing things like refusing to participate in the Cornucopia Institute’s soy industry survey only further soils their reputation in my eyes.

With the the changeover of many of their other brands on the horizon (ha!), I’m anticipating they will only alienate more of their core consumer base. Question is, can they afford this expense in the name of acquiring new customers?

Best Decisions – Co-sleeping

We didn’t start out intending to share our sleep space; it evolved from our nighttime breastfeeding relationship. Even though the babe was close at hand in the bedside cosleeper, next to me worked even better (especially once we learned to nurse sidelying) and seemed to make for a happier child. As mentioned in a previous post, some studies show that if done properly co-sleeping decreases the rate of SIDS, promotes breastfeeding, allows parents to more easily know if their child is in distress (and remedy it), and can even regulate the child’s breathing and temperature. For us it’s resulted in better sleep for all involved, meaning better days as well. I hope I never forget what it’s like to have a tiny, sleeping body curled up next to me, totally content and secure in the presence of his parents, his every need fulfilled.

Best decisions – Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding a baby is about so much more than food! In addition to offering perfect nourishment, breastmilk confers immunity and provides comfort. There are numerous health benefits to both mom and baby. No need to worry about having the right equipment or heating to the right temperature. No getting up in the night to mix concoctions or seeking out a microwave when you’re out and about. It’s environmentally friendly (no container waste or shipping carbon footprint) as well as friendly to the pocketbook. Working outside of the house, it provides another way to reconnect when we’re together. And there’s no way I can describe the sense of accomplishment in knowing that for the first few months the growth of this beautiful boy was entirely supported by me!

There’s not a lot more to be said that can’t already be found all over the web, but breastfeeding still deserves inclusion as a best decision because it is a choice not everyone makes. From the moment he first latched on after birth, I knew it was the right move for us. Our breastfeeding relationship continues to evolve, and how long it will last is an unknown, but I am so grateful that I made the decision to nurse our son.

Best Decisions – Natural Childbirth

I decided pretty early on that I wanted a natural childbirth, one without interventions or drugs. At the time, the decision wasn’t made on a lot of evidence, but more of a feeling that it was the right thing to do. I have a high pain tolerance, and felt confident that I could do it. After all, millions of women have been doing it for millenia!

This issue is unfortunately one for the mommy wars. It stirs a lot of emotions, with most women falling down strongly on one side or the other with few in the middle ground. When I was pregnant I constantly had people telling me things like “get that epidural as quickly as you can”, and “you’ll be sorry you didn’t get it sooner”. Meanwhile while I was researching on my own, I was finding articles talking about the effects on the baby, things I NEVER heard from friends or family. The more I learned, the more I knew that attempting a natural birth was something I wanted to do.

As it happens, I had a fabulous birth; things couldn’t have gone more smooth. The Bradley classes were key because they ensured that I was well educated about what was going on with my body, knew what to expect at every stage and realized that the pain had a purpose. It gave me a toolbox of things to try, positions, breathing and visualization exercises, etc. What really got me through to the end though was being in the water in one of the hospital’s large tubs.

A natural birth may not be for everyone, but I feel it deserves consideration. There are obviously times when it’s not even an option (medically necessary c-sections for example), but I think many soon-to-be moms that would be good candidates are scared away by horror stories or aren’t fully informed that there are risks with any intervention into labor and delivery, starting with inductions. Since my son’s birth, I try to share positive stories with people in an effort to counteract the negative and fear inducing things they may be hearing from others.

Ultimately, people deserve to have the kind of birth they want, whether that is a natural one or not.