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While the locavore movement has certainly begun to grow, these days we’re still mostly being fed by big food companies. Unless you grow your own food, only buy whole grains and go to farmers market, chances are at one point or another you come into contact with one of these big food companies.

In fact they permeate our lives more than most people think. Walk into a grocery store and those aisles may seem to be filled with choices, but the reality is that most of those smaller brands are owned by just a few larger ones, and with so much power and marketing dollars, their business choices can dictate our eating choices.

So who are they?

Oxfam has come up with a list of the “Big 10,” a round up of the global food companies with the most power. According to their Behind the Brands report, 500 companies control 70 percent of our food choices.

“If you look at the massive global food system, it’s hard to get your head around. Just a handful of companies can dictate food choices, supplier terms and consumer variety,” Chris Jochnick, director of the private sector department at Oxfam America told 24/7 Wall St.

These big ten are:

  1. Nestle
  2. PepsiCo
  3. Unilever
  4. Mondelez (Kraft)
  5. Coca-Cola
  6. Mars
  7. Danone
  8. Associated British Foods (ABF)
  9. General Mills
  10. Kellogg’s

Big (in 2013 Nestle alone had over $100 billion in sales) and well known (these brands are also big spenders when it comes to advertising) their logos are recognized around the world, yet their social and environmental records less so. That’s the point of the Oxfam Behind the Brands campaign, to give these brands a scorecard based off of a variety of issues and indicators in order to move towards cleaning up the supply chain, because there are plenty of problems like worker exploitation and beyond.

A lot of these brands use genetically modified products, which means if you’re trying to boycott biotech you really have to start paying attention to labels. Even some of your favorite health food brands might not be as independent as you think. Cascadian Farm Organic? General Mills. Kashi? Kellogg’s. Odwalla? Coca-Cola. That bottle of Green Machine in your hand has a whole new look now doesn’t it?

Don’t want to be controlled by big food companies? Then you have to really think about what you’re buying. Every trip to the grocery store is a chance to vote with your wallet. Support actual independent producers and know what products you’re buying. Ultimately we’re controlled by these big brands because we let them have the control. Maybe it’s time we took it back.

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