farm·wash·ing (noun): A marketing technique used by some industrial food producers in which idyllic images of farming are deployed to create misleading messages about how their products are made.

A recent Washington Post article by Jane Black, entitled "'Green' cuisine not always as ordered," quoted restaurant consultant Clark Wolf on how the use of farmwashing has cheapened the meaning of the terms "farm fresh" and "farm-to-table":

The phrase "farm fresh was ruined in the American grocery store years ago. The American restaurant business is perfectly capable of ruining 'farm-to-table,' " said New York restaurant consultant Clark Wolf. "It's called 'farm wash.' And the other term is 'B.S.' "

An August 17, 2009 article by Mya Frazier on the website, entitled "Farmwashing: Big Food's Branding Woes...Again," described how food corporations use farmwashing to promote their products: 

"The way we eat has changed more in the last 50 years than in the previous 10,000, but the image that’s used to sell the food…you go into the supermarket and you see pictures of farmers. The picket fence and the silo and the 1930s farmhouse and the green grass. The reality is…it’s not a farm, it’s a factory. That meat is being processed by huge multi-national corporations that have very little to do with ranches and farmers,” argues Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

Call it farmwashing. Despite the rather arguable point that most consumers—especially during a recession—will buy what’s practical and not what is simply ethical, the pendulum is swinging toward transparency and away from what’s always been advertising’s stock and trade: forged imagery and obfuscation.



It's completely sickening, yet completely true. Big food will tell us whatever will make us sleep better at night, so long as we buy their product. If you have not yet, check out the movie Food, Inc. Eye-opening.


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We are being manipulated constantly like this. Marketing gone wild I guess. I agree completely about Food, Inc. Go check that out and think....


Never heard the term "farm washing " before. Interesting article


We are also seeing farmwashing in the CSA movement. Worse, localharvest apparently has no interest in policing it! In a CSA, watch for the avoidance of telling you expliciitly that they are some version of 'organic' (they aren't!) and phrases like 'we get your produce from other farms that are our friends' but the farms are not mentioned (and if you call, they won't tell you!) Which means they are open to buying what they need from questionable sources like produce auctions (hence the lack of organic claims (thank heavens for some level of honesty!)

This would be bad enough in and of itself but these CSAs appear to be very successful, having hundreds of members. Due to being better businessmen than we normal farmers, I assume.

It's a shame to see marketers displace real CSAs. CSA has so much more to offer people than farmers markets (the absolute freshness of the food is the big one and the focus of the farmer on farming is another)


It's late finding this thing. At least, it's a thing to be familiar with that there are such events exist.


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