Quite some time ago, our pit boss Mike McColl sent me a video that has been bouncing around in my head ever since. Now, maybe it’s the fact that there is plenty of space in my head for things to bounce around, but I think there is more to it.
The video was from the website ‘funnyordie.com’ (nothing pornographic, I swear) and it was titled ‘the anatomy of a greenwash’. Check it out for yourself, but I’ll summarize: Marketing execs pitch to a big oil company the concept of agreeing with their critics – as in “we agree – it’s time to start researching alternate energy strategies” and “we agree, it’s time to start looking out for our environment”. The catch? Not actually doing anything. The best quote of the whole video is “We’re gonna make pretending to care the new caring!” The illusion of caring is about as good as actually caring these days. More to the point – pretending to do something is the new doing something.
Sceptical? When cholesterol became the hot button term in the late 80’s, potato chips began to market themselves as ‘cholesterol free’. The catch – potatoes and vegetable oil have always been cholesterol free. By the way, trans-fats are the new cholesterol. It is amazing how many products that have always been free of trans-fats are now suddenly “Trans-Fat Free!!” Wow, I’d better buy more because it’s better for me now. I recently bought a no name/generic brand frosted flake type cereal with the claim “now with 33% less sugar!!” I noticed upon opening the box that one in every three frosted flakes were just plain corn flakes. Clever, but a little shady. My favorite example is when a product has “20% less fat per serving”. This is easily attained by making the recommended serving 20% smaller, just so you know. I could go on and on about how many foods we are told are wholesome, healthy, and part of a balanced diet that are simply crap. In summary – Cholesterol free, trans-fat free, sodium reduced, whole grain rat poison is STILL rat poison. Don’t believe everything you hear, read, or are told by a marketing department.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I like to eat junk. I LOVE to eat junk. I just want to know its junk. If I want to put Nutella on my Pop-Tarts, I’ll put Nutella on my Pop-Tarts, But do not tell me its healthy because there are hazelnuts and whole grain flour in it. I like liquid cheese (sorry, liquid cheeze), but I am under no illusions that it is anything but edible petroleum, please don’t show me a liquid cheeze commercial with some skinny family playing volleyball at the beach eating liquid cheeze and salad. I want integrity in my advertising – I want to see some fat guys wearing sweat pants in a smoke filled basement dipping krispy kremes in liquid cheeze. Let’s call it like it is shall we?
Now, you might be asking yourself “what the hell is this guy yammering on about and why the hell is he yammering on about it?” as if to say “get to the point cheffer”. Here’s the point.
I went to FreshCo. last week. (I don’t usually out the grocery stores that piss me off by name, but what the hell, to keep it fair I’ll blast Galen Weston next week for the shitty Zehrs near my house) So, Freshco. They have this giant sign (taxpayer funded no doubt) from ‘Foodland Ontario’ with a picture of beautiful bell peppers that reads ‘Ontario peppers are ready for sale’. This sign is directly above the peppers. This kind of surprised me, as I thought Ontario Greenhouses are out of commission until March-ish, so I had a closer look. Freshco has 8 different varieties of peppers this day – from Green Bell to Scotch Bonnet. 5 varieties are from the USA, 2 varieties are from Mexico, and 1 from the Dominican Republic. ZERO are from Ontario. Huh.
Now, I am no locavore. I have no problem with American peppers, I have no problem with Mexican peppers. I do have a problem with a store pretending to source local, claiming to source local, and claiming to sell local, but in the end, really just green-washing. Pretending to source local is the new sourcing local. Sure, the fine print announced the true origin of the peppers, but the banner sign was a greenwash.
I`m not here claiming that your local supermarket is trying to dupe you, they may not be trying to convince you that the Mexican peppers are Foodland Ontario. From what I have seen from years of grocery shopping is that they may not be malicious, just bad at their job.
Wow, am I ever bitter. Sorry folks. I think I need some liquid cheeze. Chow.