I’m not much for conspiracy theories. I don’t often rail against the government or big companies. Perhaps it’s because I work for a big company!
But I am trying to be very careful about which agriculture companies I support. Local is good. Usually. Sometimes. Unless you live local to Monsanto!
These days it is harder and harder to figure out who is behind the stuff you think it’s safe to get behind. We are in the garden catalog season and I look carefully through all of them. I’ve got my steady seed suppliers, but sometimes I want to try something new. So, when the catalog from cooksgarden.com came in, I decided to see if I could track down who they are. Perhaps they are a fine upstanding company. Perhaps they are a front for some vile, dark creatures from Monsanto.
So, how can you do this? How can you figure out who actually owns “Happy Organic Land O’ Farmers Pastoral Beauty And Niceness”? A few ways.
1. Check their website. Sometimes they will tell you who they are. When they do, don’t stop checking. Follow the trail further. When they don’t, at least try and find an address beyond a p.o. box. In the case of cooksgarden.com, the website did not give me any information on who actually owned them. Spidey senses tingling, I kept looking.
2. Hoovers.com is hooked into Dun & Bradstreet. You can often find company information here, but it’s much more applicable to publicly-traded entities and you frequently have to pay to get more information. But give it a shot. I gave it a shot for cooksgarden.com (aka The Cooks Garden) and came up empty.
3. The good ol’ government! Almost every state (except New Jersey) requires any business to register. And just about every state has an online interface to allow you to search a business. And this link from the Consumer Advisory Council provides links to every state. Incredibly handy. Since I knew that Cooksgarden.com was in Warminster, PA (Warminster, Warminster.. sounds familiar for some reason) I clicked through to PA and there it was!
(Yes as my programs show I was playing World Of Warcraft.)
What I learned was that The Cook’s Garden is actually a “fictitious name”. That sounds ominous, but it’s fairly standard. It really means that they are “doing business as” (dba) and many individuals do this. And many corporations do too. It lets you run a business under a different name without having to set up a new legal entity. No big deal. Usually.
In this case, The Cook’s Garaden of Warminster, PA is actually owned by Burpee. Good to know. Now I can decide if I’m okay with that. (Repeating the search process will show how Burpee has changed hands. George Ball Jr. runs the show.)
By the way, The Garden of Eatin blog has a compiled list of seed companies that have links to Monsanto. Super easy to check the list here.
At the end of the day you may or may not agree with how I would assess the merits of one company over another. Let’s not quibble about that! Do your own checking on your own companies. I’ve got a pretty thick anti-Monsanto streak in me and you may not. (But you should.) The point is, check these companies out. Be careful. Be vigilant. Be supportive of the companies and their parents, and their holdings, and their LLCs, DBAs once you have all the facts.
Update: I wanted to add a late-breaking link from Daphne’s Dandelions. She’s using Fedco Seeds and they apparently use a identification system on their seeds that lets you know where the seeds are coming from. There’s even a category for Monsanto – with only one variety linked to them.
Might as well also link to my seed suppliers.
Ali from Henbogle commented on the confusion around Johnny’s Selected seeds. I think it’s worth pointing out here in the body of the post that they are not owned by Monsanto. They are family owned and partially employee owned – on the way to being wholly employee owned. Here is the link from Johnny’s that explains it all.
Update: The original post indicated that Burpee was linked to Seminis and Monsanto. This is not the case.