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Greenwashing. For ecoholics and the environmentally inclined this is not a new word. It even has a wiki entry (did you know it was a "portmanteau" of green and whitewash and originally was coined for the hotel industry?). Corporations everywhere are scrambling to "spin" their product as somehow environmentally friendly, forcing the consumer to be even more wary. SIGG's recent bottle-liner manipulation is a nice example.
Wouldn't you know it, no eco-words are sacred and enter.... local washing. Unfortunately this term does not have it's own wiki entry. Perhaps Crunchy Chicken gets dibs on coining this one? In any case, it would seem that the term "local" has caught on and big corporations are feeling a little nervous. Crunchy's example was of Starbucks revamping their cafes to look "indie" and claiming to be local, as in the company originated in Seattle.
Cue Eat Atlantic Challenge, an exciting and promising event where maritimers (New Brunswickers, Nova Scotians and PEI-ians...ians?) are encouraged to eat only local foods today. Ok, so it's only one day, but the key is the promotion surrounding this event in provinces that have historically been UBER conservative. According to their website, Eat Atlantic: "The Eat Atlantic Challenge is a promotion aimed at encouraging Atlantic Canadians to eat only food produced in Atlantic Canada for one day..." Sounds good so far! Yay Farmer's markets, local bakeries, locally brewed beer, local pepsi... Pepsi???
Here's a short list of my favourite "local" foods produced right here in our neighbourhood ("our region produces so many tasty, healthy products to choose from..."):
Humpty Dumpty Cheese sticks
Old Dutch All Dressed Chips
High Liner Captain Chicken Strips
Lipton Green Tea with Citrus
Pepsi (I kid you not)
Michelina Chicken Fried Rice (didn't know we grew rice in Nova Scotia)
Majesta bathroom tissue
No mention of local farms, a list of the provinces Farmer's Markets, of local bakeries... I just, I have no idea what to say to this list. Cheetos???? Looking at this list you would assume that the Atlantic provinces have no farms, no fruit trees, no fishing industry, no cattle, pigs, sheep or chickens.... just highly processed junk. That just happens to be processed in the maritimes.
Obviously the challenge is a bit of "local washing", spinning the concept that as long as it's processed in Nova Scotia, it can be considered local. This event has received a lot of media coverage with prizes given to the best "local" supper, ads being run all week on the cbc and general all around discussion. The disheartening result; instead of promoting our local (for real!) farmers and Real Food Producers, our true neighbours, this challenge places large corporations with resources not local to the maritime provinces first. Misleading consumers into believing that supporting these large, processed, polluting industries is "good" for the environment and our community and shuffles (yet again) our local farmers under the rug. Although some discussion may have occurred around Farmer's Markets and what it means to eat locally, they most certainly were not front and centre. And the true "challenge" of asking Maritimers to eat "local" in order to increase awareness was completely lost in the loose translation of what local means.
Andrew and I did not officially "sign up" for this challenge, as we already consider ourselves to eat more local (and sometimes organic) Real Food than what was listed on the site. Tomorrow we'll try to stop over at the market (even though it's SO busy and I can only handle about five minutes) pre-Guerrilla Yoga and pick up some Real Food.
article authored by EcoYogini at ecoyogini.blogspot.com