What Do You Know About "Greenwashing"?
So, what IS Green Washing? According to Wikipedia Green Washing, also called "green sheen", is a form of marketing spin in which green PR and green marketing are deceptively used to persuade the public that an organization's products, aims and policies are environmentally friendly.
While the term may be relatively new - the deceptive corporate practices are not.
And, Green Washing posses a major threat to regenerative farms who are truthful in their practices and communication... because many people will fall for the deceptive spin and opt for the cheaper price offered. Here are a few examples:
Vital Farms Eggs - many people buy their eggs. The cartons are well done with a "single" hen on the cover in nice grass. Cage Free and Free Range are some of the terms used. From their website you can even enter the farmer code from the carton and see the people supposedly "caring" for the hens. All looks very good and legit. However, when you inquire about being a farmer for them you learn you are required to build a permanent (not mobile) structure to house 20,000 hens. The structure will have small doors that the hen is suppose to know how to exit and enter back in. Basically a conventional CAFO operation.
Perdue - my Non-GMO feed supplier took his wife to Chattanooga to an upscale restaurant for Valentine's dinner this year. Looking at the menu he decided the pork looked good. The menu included the farm that "raised" the pork. As a feed supplier and always looking for sales he took out his phone and looked them up. After pealing the onion back three to four layers he discovered Perdue was the actual owner of the pork and that the pork was raised conventionally - meaning in a Confined Animal Feeding Operation or CAFO.
Perdue is also deceptive in chicken as well which offers a great example of how this gets started.
It begins with the corporate intent to increase sales margins (profit). They study which legit regenerative farmers have a good business model and will buy them out to include the name. Perdue recently did this with PastureBird from California.
Then, they lobby legislation to change (weaken) the meaning of terms like organic to meet their cheap industrial production model while charging a premium price (often just under the price charged by legit regenerative farmers). Again, the corporation makes all the money while the corporate farmer takes all the risk and barely makes a living to survives.
Fortunately, there are resources out there to help consumers sort through the marketing schemes.
The top of my list is Cornucopia. Here is a recent article titled "For the Birds: Cornucopia Details the Industrial Takeover of Organic Poultry and What It Means for Consumers." They have an infographic that shows Who Owns Organic Poultry which reveals the corporations behind the brands. Additionally, Dr. Howard from Michigan State has a complete infographic that shows the Organic Industry Structure - I.E. what major corporations own what organic brands. Dr. Howard observes, “I expect more deals to occur, since organic foods sales continue to increase faster than sales of conventional foods, and corporations are flush with cash and/or access to cheap credit.”
The link includes a DIY Guide to Choosing the Best Chicken and Turkey that outlines specific questions to ask farmers.
As Cornucopia’s report explains, the cost of authentic organic poultry is higher than factory-farmed alternatives. But that price tag reflects the cost of ethical management practices, such as feeding animals more expensive, domestic organic grain and providing legitimate outdoor access. Supporting authentic organic farmers ensures a marketplace alternative to cheap, industrial organic poultry.
“Your food choices matter,” Burcham said. “If you have the access, buying is an investment in our collective health and the future of the planet while safeguarding the livelihoods of ethical, organic poultry farmers.”
A Quick Plant Update: Last Monday we took 10 pigs to Homestead for slaughter and then brought them back to our plant for further processing. We cut & packaged two pigs on Tuesday afternoon, three Wednesday and five on Thursday. Saturday, Beth and Amy will start the sausage making and smoking bacon will be early next week following the cure directions. I will take 10 pigs to Homestead again on Monday and repeat the steps from this week. Here is a picture from one of the pigs as Beth packages the pork chops. YUMMY!