You Are What You Eat (and Buy): Organic Water, Greenwashing, and Corporate Truthiness

by on May 29, 2009 · 3 comments

in Economy, Environment, Health

The only problem with writing the occasional column is that the juicy stuff piles up too fast. So let me clean out my inbox of environmental and locavoratorial tidbits….

Greenwashing Goes Big Box…. Environmental consultants TerraChoice recently surveyed “big box” stores in the United States and Canada checking up on over two thousand “green” items sold in pharmacies, grocery stores, multi-category and toy/baby stores. Only 2% of the items checked by the group actually lived up to their sustainable or environmental claims. That means that 98% of the merchandise surveyed involved some form of “greenwashing”. One common tactic exploits consumers’ demands for third party certification by creating fake labels or false suggestions of third party endorsement.

Organic What?… Bottled water manufacturer “Totally Organica” celebrated Earth Day this year by proudly announcing their line of USDA Certified “organic” sparkling water. Served up in stylish plastic bottles with eight “calorie-free, earth-friendly” flavors, this product should resolve any doubts that you might have about the worthiness of governmental certification programs. Oh, and the product has no sugar or artificial flavors.

Local What?… Not merely satisfied with corrupting the term “organic”, food processors are now hoping to hoodwink consumers into thinking that mass produced brands are somehow “local”. The Frito-Lay folks recently dragged five potato farmers up in front of the New York Stock Exchange as part of a publicity drive designed to persuade consumers that Lays potato chips are somehow “local”. (NOTE: A TV commercial bragging about how their potatoes are grown “thirty miles” from here aired while I was typing this article!) ConAgra recently launched an advertising campaign to highlight the fact that Hunts tomatoes are (mostly) grown within 120 miles of its Oakdale, California processing plant. Local, indeed. How about food that is actually grown nearby, on human scale, by farmers that care about the earth? Please run out and sign up with LocalHarvest.org, whose slogan is “Real Food. Real Farmers. Real Community.”

Good News… The San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project has put out a call for visual artists to create food themed art for the “Growing Places”, a community garden festival planned for later this summer that will feature performances, workshops, along with food grown and prepared with the city limits. Contact Em if you’d like more information. According to the National Gardening Association, about 30% more Americans are planting gardens this year.

Quote of the month: “It’s been amazing to watch the culture rise up to meet us. We’ve gone from sucking hind tit, to now being avant garde.”…. Joel Salatin, a third generation sustainable farmer in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Read this incredible dairy about a real American hero.

Encouraging factoid of the month: During the first quarter of 2009, more bicycles were sold in the US than cars and trucks.

Fast Food makes you dumb… Finally, researchers from Vanderbilt University tracked the eating habits of young people (ages 10 & 11) and contrasted their dietary choices with performances on reading and math tests. The more often the kids patronized fast food restaurants, the lower their scores were, even taking other environmental factors into consideration.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar bodysurferbob May 29, 2009 at 3:32 pm

nice job, dougbob – thanks – and I mean it – I don’t come out of the water for too long and hardly ever do I heap praise on humans – for keeping on top of this kind of stuff for all of us.

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avatar Molly May 29, 2009 at 4:00 pm

“Only 2% of the items checked by the group actually lived up to their sustainable or environmental claims.”

Holy shit! I knew this. All those ‘green’ claims on packaged stuffs at Apple Tree.

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avatar doug porter May 29, 2009 at 7:02 pm

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