Green is the new black. It’s hip, cool and makes a statement. But I’m not talking about fashion; I’m referring to products with an ethical positioning.
“Green” foods and beverages are appearing everywhere and, along with their earthy artwork and recycled packaging, appear to be responsible choices. Further, merchants capitalize on this positioning to sell you what might be just an ordinary food product in a green-washed disguise.
Earlier this week, I was in Arizona, and I put my theory to the test. Strolling through a gourmet food marketplace, I came across a meatcase filled with veal, beef, chicken and pork. When I queried the butcher about his beef, he led me to the “pure, honest, grass-fed beef.” The price was nearly double that of his grain-fed beef (always tastier and more tender, and not “cleaner”), and therein lied the rub. He was selling hype.
Ever since the environment became a hot topic and a strong marketing platform, manufacturers have been expanding their portfolios in this sector, but it’s really within consumers’ control to make educated choices about what’s “best.”
“Green,” “environmentally healthy,” “ethical” and “clean” are all marketing terms. “Sustainable,” “organic” and “fair trade,” on the other hand, have legal definitions. Understanding that the ecological value of a product is holistic, involving cultivation, procurement, processing and packaging, is essential to assess “green” claims. Many company websites will help you do just that, but if you want to leave your children a better environment or teach lessons of social responsibility, I encourage you to closely examine claims, ask questions, and THEN feel good about what you put on your table.