Why Green Words Make Me See Red

by Betty Fussell

meating-place-cover1Long ago, words like “organic,” “fresh,” “local” and “healthy” were hijacked by industry marketers. Today, producers and marketers who should and do know better — upscale producers like Creekstone Farms and upscale marketers like WholeFoods — have turned “natural” and “sustainable” into gobbledygook for the naive.

Alas, in our current Madmen age, labels are made to deceive, and high-end marketers and chefs are as vulnerable as the rest of us to “feel-good” labels from food producers.

Take beef, for example. Eric Brandt, of a mid-size family company in Brawley, Calif., called Brandt Beef, was the cover boy in April of Meating Place. This is the industry’s trade magazine, and they praised him for making “a great sales pitch to high-end chefs.” Some of the best chefs in NYC have succumbed.

His pitch hypes “natural” into “true natural.” But all he means by this is “no hormones, no antibiotics” for a specified period of time. Since that’s become a conventional industry practice for many producers, he adds “true,” which is false.

He uses feedlots and intensive grain diets, but there’s nothing natural about CAFOS and CORN. Nothing at all. And have you noticed how often nowadays corn-fed has been euphemized into “an all-vegetarian diet?”

Brandt’s pitch is particularly deceptive because he uses male Holstein calves (the dairy industry sells them cheap), which from day one have never touched mama’s milk from the udder. To read more about his “corn is true natural” defense, read Amy Westervelt’s story at The Faster Times.

Let the industry praise him for his booming boosterism, but let buyers — chefs and eaters — beware.

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Posted on Jun 28, 2010