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July 23, 2007

More McKenzie!

Last week, when I learned that cured-meat-purveyor McKenzie's Country Classics, formerly McKenzie of Vermont, has been owned by Kayem Foods in Massachusetts since 1999, I wondered if the information was newsworthy or if everybody already knew.

After chewing on it for a few minutes, I decided to mention it in my Food News column. Apparently, other folks agreed it was news...the Free Press put a story about the meat merger on the cover of today's "Business Monday" section!


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Brian Tokar

Thanks for blowing the whistle on this--a real public service. But the McKenzie story is small potatoes (bad analogy--small sausages??) compared to the fact that for even longer, VT's best known name brand, Cabot Cheese, has been owned by a particularly nasty regional conglomerate called Agrimark, based in Springfield, Mass.

Cabot claims to be 'owned' by VT farmers, but all that means is that farmers pay a hefty membership fee. The board is controlled by large dairy operations in NY State. When 2 Hardwick area farmers sued Cabot/Agrimark for the basic info. a 'member' would logically be entitled to (how decisions are made, how much top execs. earn), they won in federal court, only to have the case tossed out by an appeals court in Delaware! How's that for profiteering on Vermont's wholesome image?!?

Even more distressing is that Cabot/Agrimark may be the only major dairy left in the Northeast that promotes the use of Monsanto's hazardous genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH), which some farmers inject their cows with to gain a small, short term surplus in milk yield in return for increased cow health problems and a potential cancer risk for people who consume the milk.

Last spring, Montpelier's Hunger Mt. Co-op launched a postcard campaign to try to get Cabot/Agrimark to stop using rBGH, as countless other companies across the US have done in recent years. Folks can call the HM Co-op cheese dept. for more info. or to bring the campaign to your local store.


Brian -- I was shocked when I read your comment and started doing some web research on the topic. I've turned up a very mixed-bag of information. Some articles state that Cabot doesn't accept milk containing rBGH, despite the fact that Agri-Mark doesn't discriminate. Other ones claim that Cabot does indeed take milk containing the GM hormone. I'm going to make a few calls next week and see what I can turn up.

Thanks for posting!

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