Food and Cuisine Sara Lee claims "Eco-Grain" better than organic

Published on February 24th, 2010 | by Jennifer Lance

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Greenwash Alert: Sara Lee Claims "Eco-Grain" Better Than Organic

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Going green has evolved from a movement of the crunchy counterculture to a mainstream obsession. Large corporations know there is money to be made from eco-friendly product claims, yet consumers are often left disillusioned by what it really means to be green. “Corporate baking giant” Sara Lee is no exception to greenwashing claiming its “Eco-Grain” is more sustainable than organically grown grains.

Photo by KevinLallier
Sara Lee claims "Eco-Grain" better than organic

Sara Lee claims "Eco-Grain" better than organic

Greenwashing is a term used to describe false eco-friendly marketing assertations meant to trick consumers.  From Barbie to Simple Green, no product is safe from greenwashing.  SourceWatch defines greenwashing as:

Greenwashing is the unjustified appropriation of environmental virtue by a company, an industry, a government, a politician or even a non-government organization to create a pro-environmental image, sell a product or a policy, or to try and rehabilitate their standing with the public and decision makers after being embroiled in controversy.

Cornucopia Institute and Common Dreams have accused Sara Lee of greenwashing.  Sara Lee is a “global manufacturer” who claims, “Sara Lee is committed to promoting wellness and nutrition, supporting our communities, and protecting our planet, in a manner consistent with our core values.”  So what’s up with the “Eco-Grain”?  Cornucopia states:

Sara Lee claims that “Eco-GrainTM,” an ingredient actually used in small proportions in its Earthgrains brand breads, is more sustainable than organic grain.  What has been described as a “crass and exploitive marketing ploy” has angered many in the organic community…

The one attribute that Sara Lee uses to differentiate Eco-Grain production is that the farmers, although they use chemical fertilizers, incorporate technology that has reduced fertilizer usage by 15%.  In contrast, as mandated by federal law, organic farmers are required by law to reduce their synthetic fertilizer use by 100%.

Sara Lee’s greenwashing does not affect me personally, as I have not eaten a product by this company since childhood, but it angers me that mainstream consumer are led astray by such claims.  Even with such claims of sustainability, “each Earthgrains 24 ounce loaf contains only 20% flour from Eco-Grain.”  Buyers beware!





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About the Author

Jennifer lives on 160 acres off-the-grid in a home built with her own two hands (and several more skilled pairs of hands) from forest fire salvaged timber. Her home is powered by a micro-hydro turbine, and she has been a vegetarian for 21 years. Jennifer graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in art education and has been teaching art to children for over 16 years. She also spent five years teaching in a one-room schoolhouse before becoming the mother of two beautiful children. Jennifer has a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education and is currently teaching preschool, as well as k-8 art. She enjoys writing, gardening, hiking, practicing yoga, and raising four akitas. Jennifer is the founder and editor of Eco Child's Play (http://ecochildsplay.com) "I’ve always been concerned about the earth and our impact upon it. Now that I have children, I feel compelled to raise them with green values. From organic gardening to alternative energy, my family tries to leave a small carbon footprint." Please visit my other blog: http://reallynatural.com



3 Responses to Greenwash Alert: Sara Lee Claims "Eco-Grain" Better Than Organic

  1. Susan Kraemer says:

    So they claim a 15% reduction in fertilizer use = better than a 100% reduction in fertilizer use…..

    Unfortunately, with the science education we Americans get, we might just be fooled.

  2. Pingback: Greenlinks der Woche 08/2010 | Klima, Frühstück, Greenwash, Alert, Claims, Eco-Grain | Neidgruen.de

  3. Will says:

    Haha I laughed when I read that you had hadn’t a Saralee product since your childhood… me either… remember those frozen chocolate cakes? They were just nasty…

    Anyway, when I go shopping my objective is to buy as unprocessed as possible and always read the labels looking for food additives…

    here are some ideas:

    http://greenideastoday.com/2010/02/a-primer-on-food-additives/

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