There are so many problems with labels on and descriptions of food. The real deal is that the vagueness of most labels are about marketing of a product rather than its integrity. Duh. Double duh. The English government banned the use of the term “organic” as an indication of a product’s being healthy. “Natural” or “humanely raised” or “sustainable” mean absolutely nothing from agreed upon science. The labels show up on products as some magical sign that they are better for the consumer. No evidence. Just higher prices.
The real problem is that food terms are used in a narrow context. Walmart, the world’s largest sustainable grocer, has terrible labor practices. A farmer can raise organic produce, but pay his employees subsistence wages. A famous chef can be green, whatever that means, but be find guilty in court of cheating servers on tips. (Shout out to Mario Batali!) If a company is green or organic or sustainable, what difference does it make if it crushes unions, treats its employees poorly, and contributes to right wing causes?
The real issue: Money. Back to duh and double duh. But if it’s so simple, why is there so little discussion of the role that money plays in the The Food World? Yes? You with your hand in the air?
For one thing, proponents of the marketing terms used in the food world are exceedingly good at public relations. For another, they play on the natural sympathies of people concerned about healthy food. They are preaching to the choir. Take Green, for example: Many organizations, non-profit, non-tax paying, are bugging restaurants to follow their unsubstantiated guidelines to create “green” businesses. In exchange, they get stickers to put on their windows: We’re green.
You have got to be kidding.
Look, if you want to be environmentally responsible, contact the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and find out what you need to do. You don’t need a consultant to tell you which way the wind is blowing.
You want green? I’ll give you green. This is what it’s all about: