Greenwashing and what it means

Keep your eyes open

 The term greenwashing may not be familiar to everyone, but it is time it became popular.
The real food movement has become strong enough that the big  corporations are beginning to pay serious attention, and what was a  small time problem with greenwashing, is getting launched into the  national and international food product world.
Until fairly recently most people believed the claims on the packaging,  things like cage free, all natural, made with organic ingredients, or my  favorite, natural flavors, but it seems that finally a sufficiently  significant portion of the population is becoming educated about these  prevarications that it is seeping into the collective social  consciousness. When sit-coms start making jokes about something, you  know that the audience has to be aware enough to find it funny.
What are not funny are the methods of pushback by the food  manufacturers. The latest tactics appear as positive steps, but they are  essentially just clever PR.
Take a product with 15 ingredients, more than I normally use in a  complex meal, something like instant oatmeal. The product will have  oatmeal, stabilizers, coloring, sugars, salts including MSG in a couple  of forms, plasticizers, a humectant or two, flavorings etc. and the box  will splashed with the words GMO FREE OATMEAL. This is a lie and the  truth at the same time.
Oatmeal is definitely not GMO as there are no GMO oats on the market at  the moment, but that does mean that the rest of the ingredients do not  include GMO soy, corn, or beet sugar. As there are no GMO labeling  rules, they can pretty much say what they want as long as there is a  tiny shred of truth still there.
Another method which is very much in the news at the moment, is the “We will remove this harmful ingredient!”
Wonderful, you have taken one toxic ingredient out of a product that  contains 10 toxic ingredients and now it is meant to be edible? However  you are not telling us what you are replacing it with.
In the world of processed food like substances, the scale of manufacture  is so large that percentages of a penny start to make a difference to  the bottom line. If they are using 10 million pounds of MSG making one  kind of toaster tart and they then remove it, what is going in to fill  that 10 million pound gap at the same price as the ingredient that has  just been removed? It cannot be something like fruit, flour, or even  sugar under any of its 317 names (updated to 360, see All the names of sugar), as they all cost far too much, it has  to be something the same price or less, meaning probably as toxic or at  best, an inert filler like chalk.
Then there is the “healthier alternative”. This one is an old favorite  of mine, as invariably it is not healthier; it is just marginally less  poisonous than the comparison. The assumption that any industrially  processed food is actually healthy is now too difficult for me to hold  in my mind.
I could run on for hours, but I will finish with the “made with all  natural ingredients”. This is probably the worst as not only are things  like Arsenic and Mercury natural ingredients, but the industry takes  this to the extreme of assuming that because something is available in  nature somewhere, that when they make it by high temperature enzymatic  action in a fractioning tower where they can use hexane to extract it,  that it still qualifies for being labeled “natural”.
So when you hear how much better something is in an advertisement, you  have to ask yourself just how terrible was it to start with and  remember, the greenwashers do not have your best interests at heart. 

The American Egg Board once claimed hen eggs were either white or brown, so I sent them this photo.
The American Egg Board once claimed hen eggs were either white or brown, so I sent them this photo.