Celebrate Earth Day! Say
No to Greenwashing!
that earth-friendly, healthy food is in demand. The solution? Change the
Earth Day is Sunday. This year, it's getting more attention than ever
because global warming is increasingly accepted as serious threat.
The good news is that there
is hope. Collectively, we have the power to restore health to Mother
Earth. The other good news is that, in order to make that happen, we'll need to
change our lifestyles for the better. A healthy world begins at home.
Call me an optimist, but anything is possible if it's important enough
If protecting the environment and becoming healthier are more important
to you than they used to be, you're not alone. Environmental and health
awareness are sweeping the globe. As a result, earth-friendly and
healthy product sales are on the rise.
Companies that make
environmentally harmful and unhealthy products have noticed this, and
are trying to prevent declining sales. The easiest and cheapest way to
do this is to "rebrand" and "reposition" harmful products as earth
friendly and healthy. It's called "Greenwashing."
The marketing profession has
a mantra (not used by all of them, mind you), that "perception is
reality." The greenwashers are wrong.
Reality is reality. Believing junk food is healthy doesn't protect you
from bad health.
The Rise of "Nutraceuticals"
Companies are scrambling to create seemingly healthy products to keep up
with appearances through greenwashing. The world's leading maker of
liquid candy, The Coca Cola company, as well as cosmetics giant
L'Oreal, are reportedly working on a new beverage called Lumať, which
they will sell as a tea-based soft drink (possibly under a different,
currently unannounced name) that promotes healthy skin via some
yet-undisclosed ingredient. The beverage may be sold in department
stores, rather than convenience and grocery outlets. Both soft drink and
cosmetics companies in general want to cash in on what they see as a
coming boom in "nutraceutical" beverages. "Nutraceutical" means food
My view: If you want healthy
looking skin, then be healthy all over, inside and out. And that means
eating a healthy diet, exercising -- and drinking plenty of water.
And in keeping with the same
theme, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have reached new levels of absurdity in a
new, misleading greenwashing campaign to market their sugar water as
healthy. Pepsi and Coke have come up with new
diet sodas, "Tava" and "Diet Coke Plus," which are fortified with
vitamins and minerals and will be sold as healthy "sparkling beverages."
Coke and Pepsi realize that people accurately associate soda with poor
health and obesity. And that's hurting them. Their sales declined in
2005 for the first time in years. Carbonated sugar water is still a good
money-making industry, a $68 billion market. But Coke and Pepsi don't
want to lose the significant profit margins they make by selling you
tap water mixed with cheap high fructose corn syrup
or chemical sweeteners. Natural beverages made with sparkling water
sweetened and flavored with real fruit juices are not only more
difficult to manufacture and handle, but also not as profitable, so the
obesity-in-a-can companies will avoid selling products that come from
orchards rather than from laboratories.
Brace yourself, because this
is just the beginning. As people become increasingly knowledgeable about
health and its link to foods and beverages, they'll increasingly turn
away from products associated with poor health. So the junk food
companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo will transform the branding and
marketing of their products, to cash in on growing health awareness,
without actually going to the expense of making and selling healthy
beverages. That's why it's important to never assume something is
healthy -- even if it's found in the health food store, and is sold as a
healthy product. Don't be fooled by the words "natural" or "healthy."
Those are just words, and not worth the paper they're printed on.
Expect to find greenwashing in conventional grocery stores and
restaurants -- and lots more of it in the near future. More surprising,
however, is that you'll find plenty of it at the local health food
On a car trip from Southern to Northern California, my husband and I
wanted a healthy lunch and decided to stop at the New Frontiers grocery
store in San Luis Obispo. New Frontiers is a standard "health food
store," which has a convenience food section where it sells freshly
prepared ďhealthyĒ foods and homemade pastries that one, naturally,
assumes are healthy. To my disappointment, this was just another example
The New Frontiers market had a menu for made-to-order sandwiches, which
not only lacked creativity but also healthfulness. Their meat,
vegetarian and vegan sandwiches were made with the typical ingredients
that make healthy food so clichť, boring and off-putting, such as
mayonnaise, bean sprouts and carrots. The former is not healthy and the
latter generally unappetizing.
To my delight, however, the freshly-baked and mouth-watering pastries
and scones displayed in the enclosed shelves looked promising. And even
though I have a personal policy about baking my own desserts when I want
to eat something sweet, I do make exceptions sometimes when I travel and
will buy something if itís healthy. The organic vegan peach blackberry
scones looked simply delicious and were made with organic whole grain
flour and real fruit; something I really appreciated.
As I read the list of ingredients on a sign, however; I realized that
one of the main ingredients was soy margarine -- undoubtedly, this
required further investigation.
When I asked the clerk if the vegan scones contained
-- one of the most toxic and unhealthy ingredients you can find in the
worst junk food -- she looked puzzled and didnít understand what I
meant. I explained to her that their vegan scones listed soy margarine
as an ingredient, and that I wanted to know what kind of soy margarine
was used to make the scones. She said she would find out and disappeared
for a few minutes. When she returned, she told me that the margarine
used in the baked goods was made with partially hydrogenated vegetable
oil. Of course, that clearly indicated that the scones were loaded with
trans fats -- I didn't buy one.
What's wrong with this
picture? Even junk food
giants such as Starbucks, McDonalds and the people who make Girl Scout
Cookies -- even the entire city of New York -- are moving away from
trans fats. Yet some health food stores are adding trans-fats to their
home-baked, vegan foods, and their employees don't know about the trans
When I got back to Santa Barbara, I checked the largest upscale health
food store in town and, to my dismay, I found that our local
health-oriented grocery store, Lazy Acres, makes some of their baked
goods with trans fats, too.
Health conscious shoppers go out of their way to avoid conventional
bakeries and other sources of unhealthy baked goods (such as Starbucks),
and enter the health food store believing that they'll probably pay
more, and will get foods that arenít as tasty as their conventional
counterparts. But they do it because they trust the store to offer
healthy food thatís better for them. It's disappointing to see that
health food stores betray that trust by adding
health-wrecking ingredients like trans fats to foods they make
in the store, then selling it as healthy.
How to Beat Greenwashing
Now that many people seek out healthy food instead of junk food, it
comes as a shock to some that the food sold as healthy is junk food,
too. Greenwash marketing spreads so much
misinformation that some fear that they'll never figure out how to
eat a healthy diet.
But there's a simple solution. The only way to make sure you don't eat
nasty toxic foods is to always find out what the ingredients are.
Marketing is designed to make you think a certain way about a product,
and doesn't necessarily have anything to do with what you'll be putting
in your body.
It is the ingredients what you're buying and putting in your body
the marketing. Don't buy the "Perception is reality" philosophy.
Perception is the marketing, and reality is the ingredients. Your body
cares only about the ingredients.
If you compare as an extreme case, for example, the difference between
maple syrup and Aunt Jemima syrup, you'll note that from a marketing
perspective, they're fundamentally identical. Both emphasize a dark
brown sweet liquid for pancakes or
waffles that tastes like boiled-down
sap from maple trees. But from an ingredient perspective -- and from
your body's perspective -- the two foods have nothing in common. Aunt
Jemima syrup is sugar from corn, thickeners, coloring, preservatives and
artificial flavor. Real maple syrup is 100% maple tree sap. Fake syrup
like Aunt Jemima does not even have one drop of maple tree sap.
If you're about to buy something in the grocery store, read the list of
ingredients. If you're in a restaurant or other place where ingredients
are unavailable -- ask.
Educate yourself about what's healthy and what isn't. In addition to
protecting yourself and your family from bad food, asking about
ingredients -- then rejecting foods that turn out to be unhealthy --
also adds the benefit of educating the people who serve foods, and
applying consumer pressure on companies to improve their fare.
Companies that use greenwashing rely on ignorance, passivity and apathy
on the consumerís part. That's the business model. Make something
cheaply, and tell 'em it's healthy. I say be educated, proactive and
highly conscious about what you buy, where it comes from and whether or
not it's good for you. Assert yourself to give the food industry an
incentive to be more honest and sell you real and healthy food not just
the false pretense of "healthiness." Be a food snob and say no to junk
Here are the top 7 things you can do to protect yourself from hidden
1. Always read labels or ask
about all the ingredients in any food you buyóeverywhere. Reject junk
2. Buy whole foods whenever
possible; I mean real ďliveĒ foods that are as close to their natural
state as possible (whole grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruit,
3. Never buy anything that
lists partially hydrogenated vegetable oil in it (even if it lists zero
trans fats because the FDA allows companies to not list trans fats if a
serving of an item contains .05 grams or less).
4. Never buy an item that
contains high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, dextrose or high
amounts of any sugar.
5. Never buy an item if you
donít recognize ingredients in it.
6. Avoid buying processed or
7. Get real: Never buy any food
product that lists artificial preservatives, artificial color or
Empower yourself to make healthy choices for a life time of good health
and the legacy of a healthy planet for future generations. Reject companies who unscrupulously resort to greenwashing. The
way you spend your money is a powerful way of telling food companies
what you want: Safe, healthy food and a safe, healthy planet.
We live on this planet.
Every day is Earth Day!
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I realize that that what we eat is important but another part of that is
what we cook with. I am now beginning to educate myself about the
harmful consequences of teflon and plastics, and I don't trust all those
silicone bakeware, Silpats, and spatulas but they are all very hard to
avoid. What has your research revealed regarding cooking with safe
materials? I love glass but glass pots & pans are extremely hard to
find, and I don't know how they fare with sticky foods like omelets.
Ditto on the sticking part with stainless steel. I cannot find any
information on enamel or parchment & wax paper. I'm hoping a future
newsletter can be devoted to this :) Thanks for leading by example. -
A: Dear Cindy, thank you
raising an important issue. Foods can definitely have a reactive effect on
certain types of pots and pans. Highly acidic foods, for instance, can make low quality
materials chemically react and leach those chemicals into food as it cooks, which we ingest when we
eat the food.
Contrary to what some manufacturers say, research suggests that aluminum
and Teflon can be toxic to our bodies and the environment. Moreover, the
quality of the craftsmanship of cookware determines how heat is
conducted at various temperatures making cooking easier or more
As you mentioned, glass cookware is safe and non-reactive but a poor
conductor of heat, hard to
find and easy to break.
Teflon cookware is not safe because metal utensils damage
them easily breaking the coating, which gets into our food. Also high
heat makes it release harmful fumes. Some of the chemicals used to
make them are believed to cause cancer.
Although anodized aluminum
has a corrosion-resistant surface that prevents it from reacting with
food, it's definitely something to stay away from because itís unsafe
for the environment.
Copper is the best conductor of heat,
but it needs to be lined with tin to prevent it from reacting with food, I donít think itís
a good idea to over use such a reactive metal, which becomes a factor
when the tin scratches. Itís also really
expensive and hard to maintain.
Stainless steel is not the best conductor of heat, but this cookware can
be safe and non-reactive. One of the top companies making high quality
stainless steel cookware is All-Clad.
I own a
set of high quality five-ply stainless steel cookware, which are good for cooking,
safe and non-reactive to food. They're also easy
to clean. Watch out though, a lot of stainless steal cookware is
very low quality and not worth buying. Look for thick bottoms that have
heat-conducting layers of copper, high
craftsmanship and "18/10 stainless steel." Unfortunately, the best
stainless steel cookware is also the most expensive, in general.
Porcelain enamel-coated cast iron cookware is great. If you want peace
and can buy this expensive cookware without going bankrupt, I
recommend Le Creuset porcelain enamel-coated cast iron pots.
non-reactive with foods. The enamel used is perfectly impermeable; it
wonít react with any food no matter what heating temperature is or how
acidic the food may be. The best part is that these pots are not only
good for stovetop cooking but can also be used under the grill or in the
oven. Do keep in mind, however, that the knobs on the lids can only
withstand up to 400įF in the over. Also, if the pots are low quality, the enamel can chip, making the
pot useless, so only use wooden utensils with this type of cookware. I
use my Le Creuset cookware every day, and prefer cooking in large pots
to avoid splashing food all over the stove. One caveat is that these are
extremely heavy and can be problematic for those with arthritis. In
fact, I should consider handling and washing these pots part of my daily
weight training routine.
To keep up with vegetarian, organic and health-related research
news every day, check out my
Vegetarian Organic Life
KUDOS AND COMMENTS
Lentil Super Soup
Hello, Iíve been reading
your newsletter for some time now Ė I learned of it through your
husbandís newsletter. Though I donít consider myself a vegetarian, I
your positive outlook, quotes, etc so I read every issue.
Iíve never tried any of your recipes, until last night. Iím a single dad
with two daughters, so a pretty busy guy; the recipe for
Soup caught my eye as it used normal ingredients : ) and was quick and
easy and healthy. Iím always looking for ways to improve the quality of
food that we eat. It was a snap to make, and so delicious. Iíll be sure
to keep this one in our regular rotation. Thanks for what you doÖEd
WORDS OF WISDOM
Guiding Your Thoughts
"If you don't go after what
you want, you'll never have it. If you don't ask, the answer is always
no. If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place." ~Nora
TO THE NEXT LEVEL
Your Wholesome Life
This newsletter and blog are
free, but I make my living providing
one-on-one holistic health counseling, either in person or by
I invite you to
contact me and let me help you make the changes you always
wanted to make, one step at a time. The first initial one-hour
consultation is free.
When it comes to overall health and happiness, itís all connected; your
food, your relationships, your lifestyle and you career are all part of
the equation. Iíd love to help you find your solution.
GOOD THINGS IN STORE
Maranatha Raw Sesame Tahini
recipe below calls for raw tahini. I recommend that you try
Maranatha raw sesame tahini. It's excellent, and gives the results I
want when I make my hummus or my tahini sauces and dressings. Iíve tried
other brands, but this is by far the best. Itís raw, organic
and has no additives.
The one and only ingredient in it is ď100% Organic Hulled Raw Sesame
SeedsĒ (allergy warning: Itís processed in a facility that also
processes other nuts).
Deadly Salt Risk At
The first-ever long-term
study on the impact of salt on health was released this week. The study,
conducted at Harvard University and published in the British Medical
Journal, found that "People who ate less salty food were found to have a
25 per cent lower risk of cardiac arrest or stroke, and a 20 per cent
lower risk of
We are eating too much saltódouble the total daily recommend limit of
about one teaspoon (2,300 milligrams). Not surprisingly, a different
study found that eating at restaurants increases sodium intake because
add a lot of salt to their food, as salt is associated with high
flavor. Food low in salt is perceived as bland only because our palates
have become accustomed to salty foods.
One restaurant meal can provide almost twice the amount of salt an adult
should consume in an entire day. For example, Chiliís Grill & Barís
ďfamousĒ baby back ribs contain a whopping 4,410 milligrams of sodium.
And thatís, of course, what you get if you're not one of those people
who really go at it with the salt shaker even before trying the food.
The sodium intake is alarmingly higher for our defenseless children who
are being plagued with obesity and adult onset diabetes. Those chicken
McNuggets are loaded with salt.
What to do? Eat out less and, when you do, eat at healthier restaurants.
Avoid packaged or prepared foods. Cook
your own meals and add a minimum of salt. Your food may taste bland for awhile but it will get better as your taste buds come back to
ENJOY VEGETARIAN ORGANIC LIFE?
SHARE THE JOY - FORWARD TO A FRIEND!
VEGETARIAN ORGANIC RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Leafy Greens Power
(vegan) Serves 4
Click on the picture for a closer look!
Leafy greens are super foods that are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins
and minerals. This nutritious and delicious power salad is full of
wholesome goodness. These types of salads can be eaten at any time of
the day including breakfast to revitalize your body, boost your immunity
and increase your energy.
Preparation time: 20 minutes Equipment: Food processor or blender for
Get ingredients ready (use organic ingredients if possible)
(yields about 2 cups)
Ĺ cup raw tahini
ľ cup flaxseed oil
1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
⅓ small onion, chopped
6 fresh garlic cloves
3 tablepoons ground flaxseeds
ĺ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon organic raw agave nectar
1 tablespoon turmeric
Ĺ teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt to taste
4 large leafs of kale with stems removed, chopped into bite size pieces
1 large green chard leaf with stems removed, chopped into bite size
2 cups of romaine lettuce, finely chopped
1 cup cooked kidney beans or garbanzo beans
2 thin carrots, sliced or shredded
1 cup cherry tomatoes, whole
Ĺ small onion, diced
1 small cucumber, peeled and sliced
Ĺ red bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons of raw pine nuts, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
Ĺ sliced avocado (to be added after is plated)
Freshly ground pepper
1. In a blender or food processor, combine all the dressing ingredients
and puree until completely smooth adding more lemon juice mixed with
half water if a more liquid consistency is desired.
2. Place all the salad ingredients in a large bowl excluding avocado.
Pour about one third of a cup of dressing onto the salad gently tossing
and mixing thoroughly. Serve on plates, garnish with avocado slices and
add more freshly ground pepper if desired. Store dressing in a glass
bottle or jar in refrigerator for up to two weeks.
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This newsletter is not intended to provide and replace medical advice. The author and editor expressly disclaim all responsibility for any adverse effects resulting from any information, diet or exercise suggestions. It is imperative that the advice of a physician is sought before any diet or exercise programs are adopted.
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Copyright© 2003 - 2009 Amira Elgan. All Rights Reserved.