Each Thursday evening at 8pm EST/5pm PST people from all across the globe gather on Twitter for #wellnesschat. It's an educational, encouraging and engaging (e3) filled hour. The first Thursday of every month Andy Bellatti is the featured guest. He is interested in food politics and Big Food. We love his work! Below is the transcript from the evening with Andy's posts. We hope you find them insightful and helpful.


Let's begin with "healthwashing". Most common example is tacking on a nutrient to an otherwise unhealthy food

One example of healthwashing -- Subway fortifying highly processed breads w/calcium & vitamin D.

Diet Coke Plus (with B vitamins, zinc, and magnesium) is another case of classic, and utterly ridiculous, healthwashing.

More healthwashing: an "olive oil vinaigrette" with more soybean oil than olive oil.

Special K products are epitome of healthwashing. Advertised for weight loss, minimally nutritious, highly processed.

FYI -- here is a brief, but informative, intro to greenwashing .

Coca-Cola is a notorious greenwasher. A few years ago, they vaguely pledged to go "water neutral".

Coca-Cola's "green" efforts silly given atrocious record w/ water usage in developing nations.

Greenwashing often an attempt to distract from serious environmental and ecological abuses/scandals (BP is a master at it!).

Food companies have lately started implementing farmwashing. Let's break that down.

Farmwashing unconvincingly romanticizes an industrialized food system as a pastoral utopia

McDonald's employed farmwashing in several ads last year. I wrote about it for Grist.

Farmwashing reality check. Even the most processed products, like Pop-Tarts, contain some ingredient(s) grown on a farm.

More important question: what went on between the farm and your table? In the case of a Pop-Tart, lots of processing.

Also, ask: what happens *at* the farm? How are workers treated? Is sustainability given any thought? Are pesticides used?

In reality, McDonald's fries are farm *to lab* to table.

Kellogg's has even tried to farmwash Fruit Loops (see last section of in referenced link article). 

Here is Domino's example of farmwashing from 2010.

Causewashing has been on the rise lately. This is when food companies tie unhealthy products to charities/"good causes".

Big Food's reliance on breast cancer charities to peddle unhealthy products so ubiquitous it garnered own term: pinkwashing.

Diet Coke's Red Dress Heart Truth Campaign is perfect example of ridiculous causewashing. Coca-Cola & heart health?

Yes. KFC has had "pink buckets" of fried chicken to support breast cancer charities. The mind boggles, indeed.

Terrific post by former Big Food exec @AuthorBruce: "Why is Cause Marketing So Popular?"

Box Tops are classic causewashing. Purchase unhealthy processed foods (targeted to children) and help out your school.

Another good post by Author Bruce on "pinkwashing". Hamburger Helper even jumps on the bandwagon! 

Like healthwashing, causewashing is used to deflect attention from unhealthy ingredients & unethical corporate behavior.

Cookwashing is a term I invented after reading this post by Yoni Freedhoff

Cookwashing is how Big Food tries to pass off adding water or an egg to a box of processed ingredients as "cooking".

"Homestyle" Eggo waffles contain 2 artificial dyes and artificial flavoring. That's cookwashing! "Labstyle" more accurate.

Read excerpt in NYT. Excellent. Plan on reading book soon. "Pandora's Lunchbox" by melanie_warner also great.

Here is a terrific summary of localwashing practices from various companies. 

Walmart is a notorious "localwasher". Touting local produce, while obliterating local economies.

Here is an exhaustive analysis & thoughtful critique of Walmart's "fresh food makeover".

Despite attempts at health/local/green etc washing, Big Food largely undermines public health.

Market research has shown that health halos sell. Otherwise, food companies wouldn't bother.


Will you change your eating habits based upon this information? We hope so.



Photo credit: timsamoff