Multinational conglomerates— especially those best known for corporate steamrolling— are touting their locavore cred:
Lay’s potato chips is running a series of television commercials featuring five of the farmers/suppliers who bring the simple happiness of farm life to big cities across America— including one whose ‘local farm’ covers 17,000 acres in 11 states.
McDonalds billboards trumpet locally-sourced french fries that are from here, for you; although the company admits that it hasn’t actually changed its buying practices and, of course, “participation and duration may vary.”
Amid a sea of Asian-made goods and industrial foods, Walmart is bringing Georgia peaches to its Atlanta supercenters and draping the produce sections with heritage agriculture banners.
Plucking the low-hanging fruit of the sustainability movement.
Local food claims are not regulated; in fact there isn’t even a legal definition of local. Locally-grown, locally-owned, locally processed, or maybe just locally-packed; it’s all fair game for misuse and abuse.
Corporate lip service is a lot simpler and less costly than actual sustainability practices.
Locavores are horrified. They argue that the corporate co-opting of local ignores the movement’s intellectual underpinnings. Local is a bit of short-hand, a proxy for the more complicated issues of food safety, fair treatment of employees, humane treatment of animals, and lower carbon emissions.
Spinning the local angle for marketing purposes has been dubbed ‘local-washing.’ As whitewashing, the practice of glossing over misdeeds through perfunctory cleanups, had morphed into greenwashing–iffy marketing claims of environmental friendliness; now we have the sheen of civic virtue applied to localism.
Local-washing is _________ [perverse, ironic, evil, ingenious].
You can fill in the blank.
Local-washing in pictures: Grist presents a slideshow of the most egregious offenders.