Eco labels are cluttered, confusing and unreliable.
Organic food gets a tiny slice of the market.
Most shoppers don’t pay much attention to environmental factors. Perhaps understandably so. They’re busy, or ignorant. Or they don’t care.
Which makes me believe that we can’t count on consumers to bring about a sustainable food system.
So, like it or not, that it’s going to be up to business to fix the food system.
That’s my takeaway from today’s discussions at the Sustainable Food Institute, part of Cooking for Solutions, a great event on food/ag/sustainability organized by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I’m here for a couple of days of good talk, good food, good wine, shared by reporters, chefs, people in the food business, scientists, activists and a farmer or two.
In several panel discussions–one on eco-labels, another about the popular but nevertheless limited Seafood Watch program run by the aquarium, and also during my own interview with Louise Nicholls, a sustainability executive from the British food and department store Marks & Spencer–it became clear to me that the dizzying complexity of food and agriculture systems, including as they do health, environmental and economic concerns, will make it very difficult to communicate simply to shoppers what’s “good” and what is not, even assuming scientists can reach consensus on that.
Persuading shoppers to then change their habits is even tougher. [click to continue…]