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Thread: When and how will "paleo-washing" start? page

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    egrande25's Avatar
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    When and how will "paleo-washing" start?

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    Hi all,

    I work as an environmental consultant. There is an industry phenomenon called "green-washing". In consumer products, it's essentially when a company tries to increase sales of a product by slapping a "green" or "environmentally-friendly" or "sustainable" label on a product that doesn't deserve it. It can also be seen in the corporate management arena. For example, when a company tries to boost stockholder interest by including "green-friendly" language in its quarterly reports, websites, and signage. If this language reflects real actions the company has taken to be a good corporate citizen, then that's wonderful. However, if it's just a hyped up superficial thing, then it falls into the green-washing category.

    As I've gotten into the paleo/Primal lifestyle, my question is this: when will food producers and grocers start "paleo-washing" their products? The paleo/Primal approach to food is a growing phenomenon. It's not yet a household name in my experience (the way "green" now is), but as more and more people jump on board, there will be more and more people willing to shell out money for foods that are "paleo". When food producers and grocers catch on, paleo-washing is bound to happen.

    Has anyone seen this phenomenon already, in labeling or grocery store signage? I would imagine health food stores such as Whole Foods would be early adopters as their customer base is more attuned to health trends.

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    Who is it around here that has that link to the vegan "primal jerky?" *shudder*

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    iniQuity's Avatar
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    Well, I'm not sure how it would work as anything packaged is almost automatically not paleo, with the exception of things like cooking fats and dairy products, and also all things that fall into "real food' but happen to come in certain packaging....

    I personally wouldn't bother with frozen paleo meals so to speak, unless of course I was making them myself. Even if all the ingredients checked out, I'm sure the price would be too much and the flavor wouldn't compare to the few things I can make.

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    Alex Good's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by drssgchic View Post
    *shudder*
    Seconded.
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    The packaging is definitely a good point. Perhaps the paleo community is inoculated against paleo-washing marketing since when we do buy packaged foods, we are used to very carefully reading ingredient lists on labels?

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    I think the challenge will be that there are no official (aka government approved) standards by which something can be labeled "paleo" or "primal" -- so it's likely that any manufacturer that wants to slap that label on whatever junk they're producing, they'll do it. I'm NOT saying I want there to be government guidelines on paleo/primal (furthest from the truth!), but all I'm saying is that without guidelines, they can put whatever they want on packages. It's like the words "all natural" or "healthy" -- it doesn't mean crap, but if it's printed on a package, I know too many people that think it's a good thing. I still argue that point with friends that buy into the whole "natural" labeling on foods.

    Now there are guidelines, for instance, on what can be labeled "low-fat," but before those official guidelines were set forth, it was a free-for-all.

    I think the folks who truly understand what primal or paleo is all about won't be sucked into "paleo-washing," but the wanna-bes will eat it up (literally).

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    Most paleos/Primals are pretty conversant with nutrition labels and packaging, so we might be a little harder to bamboozle than average. But maybe not. I'm sure it will start happening exactly as soon as the movement gets big enough that the dollar signs start adding up.
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    The vast majority would have to be in the frozen food section. I could see something like Paleo Meals, where they put together meat and a veggie. Can't say I'd buy it because it's too simple and I could most likely do it for much cheaper.

    Anything just sitting on a shelf wouldn't work. Assuming people would be smart enough to read the ingredients, that is.

    Honestly, I think the market they'd try to reach would be people that know Paleo and Primal are good but don't quite "get it".
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    I think the paleo-washing will be when they label their packaged foods as organic or natural or no hormones or free-range or something like that that has no meaning and the label will have some kind of swoosh with the word Paleo or a picture of a mammoth or a cave man or native American rock art or something. It'll be so easy to tell it's a lie that it'll provoke hysterical laughter from those in the know.
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    Quote Originally Posted by egrande25 View Post
    The packaging is definitely a good point. Perhaps the paleo community is inoculated against paleo-washing marketing since when we do buy packaged foods, we are used to very carefully reading ingredient lists on labels?
    Well, we don't buy packaged foods. But, as you said, as it gains more popularity, people will start to find their way to it. Since most people are generally really fucking lazy and expect miracles in a pill, they will buy the packaged food labeled as "paleo" because of said label. We saw it with low-fat, Atkins and the latest "gluten-free" craze. Each having valid points (yes, even low fat) in their own right, then having the greedy bastards getting ahold of it and bending the meaning until it resembles nothing of what it was supposed to. It will become a fad, eventually, and a lot of people will not hang with it because they have completely been screwed over.

    As someone in the environmental arena, you can probably attest to this with the sheer stupidity of what people think will save the planet. I am working on my PhD in Environmental Policy & Management (Ms Environmental Engineering) and most of the ideas that are "progressive" really are the thinnest veil of people just trying to make money. It's fucking pathetic, as is what will eventually become packaged "paleo" food.
    People too weak to follow their own dreams will always try to discourage others.

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