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Cooperatives


We Are Independent

by Melissa Hughes

July 2, 2019

by Melissa Hughes

Happy Independence Day! We wish you a celebration full of family, friends, sunshine, and delicious organic food.

At Organic Valley, Independence Day embodies a major piece of who we are. Our own independence has made all the difference over the past 31 years, both for you and for our cooperative of family farms. Our independence is your independence when it comes to the foods you choose for your family.

The world of food and farming has changed a lot since we chose to work outside the corporate herd in 1988. The biggest change is how much the organic sector has grown in that time, thanks to so many of you finding organic food and making great choices. You probably remember the first time you decided to give organic a try—the questions and concerns that led you to it. The lift it gave your spirit. The amazing fresh tastes that convinced you it was worth it. The feeling that you had done something really good for yourself and your family.

Another big change since 1988 has been the acquisition of so many once-independent organic companies by large, legacy food corporations. This has led to a foodscape where more and more decisions that affect our dinner table are made by fewer and fewer corporate interests. There are very few independent food brands around anymore, but Organic Valley is one of them.

As organic companies keep getting absorbed by big corporations, we’ve plugged steadily along, politely turning down offers to purchase the business over the years because we know that the only way we can serve our farmers—and you—through multiple generations is to remain independent. And, some would say against all odds, we have grown and grown, which makes us smile knowing that the reason for our growth is that you’ve chosen our foods for your family.

Mom Heidi Vosberg holds daughter Rachel in front of their red barn with an American flag painted on it.

Heidi Vosberg with daughter Rachel, Organic Valley dairy farmers from Wisconsin.

Why does our independence within the food system matter?

Because, as an independent cooperative, we are beholden only to you and our farmers, not to the whims of Wall Street. As a cooperative, we make decisions together, and the business is designed to help all members instead of just a few.

Like the founders of our United States, we believe democracy is the essential ingredient for a better future. We started this cooperative following that ideal, and we won’t give it up. We’ve worked hard to win and protect our freedom to make better food for you and your family and to impose extremely difficult farming standards on ourselves.

In a world where the headlines are bold with stories of huge companies that skirt rules and regulations and treat their farms and animals as factories, we have always said higher standards matter. You will always know the foods from Organic Valley are the highest good that food can be. It’s written right into our cooperative foundations, along with our pledge that we will work together to keep our independence. Your food independence.

Of course, there are added costs to farming and making food with added care. But there are added benefits, too. Better health (no toxic pesticides, no antibiotics, no GMOs, no synthetic hormones), better animal care, better taste (food grown for quality, not weight or perfect proportions), and a better earth are just four of many.

Our independent cooperative’s purpose is to provide you with tasty, healthful things to eat while remaining one of the last bastions of independent organic farms and food. We wouldn’t be able to do all these things if we weren’t independent and able to make our own decisions.

From all of us here at Organic Valley, we wish you a happy, safe and delicious Independence Day celebration.

<p>American flag flying on the Parker Farm in Wisconsin.</p>

American flag flying on the Parker Farm in Wisconsin.