“It’s White Washing, but with a Green Brush”

Did you know that McDonald’s is “going green?” In Germany, the red background behind the iconic golden arches is being replaced by green backgrounds. This redesign is just one example of blatant “greenwashing,” explained Denise Garbinski this afternoon at the Hazon Food Conference.

Garbinski, a Registered Dietitian, natural foods industry veteran, and founder of Botanical Nutrition, led a session titled “The Greenwashing of Food: Be an Informed Consumer,” part of the conference’s Food Justice track. Greenwashing, she explained, is the set of efforts a company takes to appear environmentally friendly, when in reality, the majority of their work is not. As “going green” becomes increasingly popular, for companies it means increased cash. And so, more and more food companies claim they are environmentally responsible. It turns out, that’s often not true. They’re simply repainting the background green.

Garbinski, wants you to know the facts in order to make better informed decisions when purchasing food. What makes food “natural?” Or “organic?” Who is approving these labels and what do they mean?

What can you do? Get informed. Did you know that it’s illegal to grow genetically modified crops in Ireland and Japan (although they can be imported), and that it’s illegal to export or import GM in Egypt? Ask questions. Get answers from organizations like Organic Consumers Association.

And then…Vote with your dollar. Consumers are the power behind the resistance to the Smart Choices campaign, which gives a seal of approval to sugar-filled cereals like Froot Loops and Cocoa Puffs. Spread the word. Blog, tweet, talk to your friends. Help advocate for change.

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