Don’t Be Fooled By Green Washing When You Shop For Food. Hello everyone, I hope you are well. In today’s post, I will be sharing a guest post from Holly Taylor. Holly Taylor is a sustainable food expert, chef and co-founder of Kindling Restaurant in Brighton. Kindling is about more than just delicious food. It is a community of people: staff, customers and suppliers all sharing and celebrating local produce. Holly will share how to recognise genuinely sustainable ingredients and not be fooled by greenwashing.
In a world that’s ever more focused on sustainability, choosing ingredients that are kinder to the environment has never been more critical. But how can you tell if what you’re buying will make a difference and that the claims aren’t just marketing hype?
Don’t Be Fooled By Green Washing When You Shop For Food
It may not always feel like it, but as consumers, we wield great power; what we buy matters. That’s why making food shopping choices based on what is kinder to the environment has never been more critical. But how can you tell if what you’re buying will make a difference and that the claims aren’t just marketing hype?
Greenwashing is the concept of making an item seem to have less of a negative environmental impact than it does. Terms such as green, non-toxic, plant-based, plant-derived, pure, raw, healthy, and all-natural all lead us to believe the product is a better choice. But they are often used to greenwash – this happens when the claims are unsubstantiated, only refer to a specific aspect of food production, or are entirely false.
As consumer demand for environmentally friendly products has risen, greenwashing has become increasingly common. This has led to growing consumer confusion, making it more challenging to create genuinely sustainable choices.
How To Spot Green Washing Products
So, what should you be looking out for? Is there a way to spot greenwashing?
Is The Claim Vague?
Maybe the company uses general terms such as ‘green‘ or ‘eco-friendly‘ but doesn’t provide any reason for their statement. Companies proud of their commitment to the environment will have the information behind their claims freely available and happily answer consumer questions. Watch out for imprecise claims with no evidence to back them up. Don’t be fooled by clever branding that makes a product look environmentally friendly when it has no right to be.
Consider The Whole Life Cycle Of A Product
For example, a meat replacement product may major on the fact that it is plant-based, but what counts is how those plants were grown and how much energy has been used to process the ingredients to make the end product. A plant-based product that is revealed to have been produced from an international catalogue of ingredients that have all been intensively farmed isn’t as good for the environment as it initially sounds and indeed not as good as vegetables have grown a few miles from your location.
Most of us don’t have the time to research everything we eat, which many companies rely on! The good news is there’s a growing number of sustainability certification bodies, such as B Corp, The Ethical Company Organisation, Planet Mark and FutureFit Business, that provide comprehensive assessments and certifications for companies that genuinely want to address their environmental impact. These organisations offer businesses a roadmap to measure and mitigate their social and ecological effects, intending to reduce their contribution to climate change.
Too Good To Be True?
When it comes to green-washed products, if it sounds too good to be true, there is a good chance that it is. Most sincerely, green production practices will have a lower yield and higher cost – so you should expect to pay more. A company that’s genuinely committed to reducing its carbon emissions will invest money in making changes to production and infrastructure to achieve this.
Carbon offsetting has become very popular in the last few years with large corporations who wish to appear more environmentally friendly. Still, sadly this isn’t a long-term solution to climate change. Planting trees to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere as they grow is a positive thing. But it’s significantly less favourable than not producing so many greenhouse gases in the first place. Unfortunately, the buzz around carbon offsetting has somewhat distracted consumers from the core problem of skyrocketing carbon emissions. Offsetting schemes aren’t bad, but they don’t cancel out the emissions to which they are linked. Instead, they’re a distraction that stops us from holding companies accountable for their enormous environmental impact. It allows these companies to continue their unsustainable behaviour while shifting their responsibility for the climate onto the consumer.
Go Back To Basics
One of the best ways to avoid greenwashing in food is to get back to basics as much as possible. Try to buy your food locally from the people who produce it. Look out for farmers championing regenerative agriculture – a farming practice that aims to enhance the land and work with the environment rather than against it. As much as possible, ask questions about where your ingredients come from: where in the world are they grown, how many food miles have they travelled, and how have they been grown?
Some of the simplest things to do include:
- Buying veggies at a farmer’s market.
- Signing up for a locally grown veg box scheme.
- Getting your meat and fish from a local butcher and fishmonger who will know where it has come from
- Where possible, cook from scratch rather than buy processed food.
- Swapping to products that have certified sustainability credentials
- Buying from smaller, more local companies will naturally have a lower carbon footprint compared to corporate giants.
As with any lifestyle change, your approach doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Every better choice makes a difference.
I hope you enjoyed that.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Holly Taylor and Toby Geneen are the founders of Kindling Restaurant in Brighton. Kindling is about more than just delicious food. It is a community of people: staff, customers and suppliers all sharing and celebrating local produce. Nature writes the menu as the seasons inspire the dishes. Kindling is featured in the Michelin Guide and is a member of the Sustainable Restaurants Association.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KindlingBrighton @KindlingBrighton
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kindlingrestaurant/ @KindlingRestaurant