NY Times on Organic-ish Packaging

It is hard to read even if you click to enlarge Ross MacDonalds illustration, but the bottom line on the box is "For today's healthy lifestyles ~ and for de-icing driveways". This sets the tone for a wonderful article about how deceptive the packaging of "organic-ish" food is, entitled Be It Ever So Homespun, There's Nothing Like Spin. "A bag of natural Cheetos seemed so much more appealing than the classic cheese puff. Why? Was it the image of a subdued Chester Cheetah rising gently from a farm field bathed in golden sunlight? Like clues to a murder that suddenly point to a single culprit, the mystery in my shopping cart revealed itself. Wheat sheaf by wheat sheaf, sunrise by sunrise, the grocery store shelves had been greenwashed." The article discusses a design shorthand of colours and images that the public identifies with organic and healthy food. "If the package does its work, then the food inside doesn't actually have to be organic, only organic-ish." Images of barns, rolling fields, sunshine and happy animals are popular, too.(Tony Cenicola, Times)

What is on this packaging? "The mass market wants an instant identifier," said Ms. Talerman, a longtime New York advertising consultant.

So what are the identifiers? After shopping for dozens of products in places as varied as food co-ops and convenience stores, I've uncovered the essential elements of a greenwashed product. Start with a gentle image of a field or a farm to suggest an ample harvest gathered by an honest, hard-working family. To that end, strangely oversize vegetables or fruits are good. If they are dew-kissed and nestled in a basket, all the better. A little red tractor is O.K. Pesticide tanks and rows of immigrant farm laborers bent over in the hot sun are not."

I could cut and paste all day, this is such a well written and incisive article. Go to the original by Kim Severson in the ::New York Times