Sustainable Seafood: Which Retailers Topped The List? (INFOGRAPHIC)

 

Finding sustainable seafood has long been a challenge for environmentalists and foodies alike. Recently, however, supermarkets and food stores have stepped up their efforts to reconcile that dilemma.

Greenpeace has released the results of its annual Carting Away the Oceans report, which evaluates retailers on the sustainability of their seafood.

Greenpeace has conducted the study in each of the last five years, and no retailer had ever achieved a “green” rating. Until now.

This year, Whole Foods and Safeway topped the list, with a “green” score of 7.1 and 7.0 out of 10, respectively, followed by Wegmans, Harris Teeter, and Target.

The stores were graded on a number of factors, including the sale of overfished species such as Chilean sea bass, hoki, orange roughy, and shark. The retailers were also scored based on the degree to which their fishing methods were destructive to habitat and the environment, as well as on their conservation initiatives, transparency and internal policies.

Although some supermarkets received the incriminating “fail” rating, the good news is that the overall performance of the industry has improved significantly, the report shows.

Despite this progress, problems persist. For instance, it is becoming increasingly difficult to trace fish back to their origin, making it hard to say for sure whether or not it is sustainable. According to the report, fraud and other illegal activity are also prevalent in the global seafood market – even in the U.S. According to Greenpeace, pirate vessels capture as much as 20% of the seafood caught globally.

To make matters worse, a dismal 2% of imported seafood is inspected for safety at international borders, posing concerns not only for sustainability, but also human health.

Is your seafood sustainable? Check out this infographic for a snapshot of retailers’ seafood practices:

Image credit: Greenpeace

Whopper Nation: Americans’ Eating Habits Grow Even Worse

If you thought Americans’ eating habits couldn’t possibly get any worse, think again. In a recent Gallup poll, Americans reported a drop in healthy eating this year over last year, with fruit and vegetable consumption down across all demographics.

When asked if they “ate healthy all day yesterday,” 66.2% of respondents answered “yes,” compared to 68.2% last year. Likewise, 61.3% of women and a meager 50.1% of men reported eating five or more servings of fruit and vegetables at least four times a week in 2011, compared to 63.5% and 51.7% in 2010, respectively.

Of course, the poll does not acknowledge that “healthy” is a highly subjective term. Are potatoes “healthy”? What about granola? Fruit juice? Pasta? The list goes on and on.

Even worse, Americans’ unhealthy habits extended beyond diet, with increases in smoking and decreases in exercise reported over last year’s numbers.

So what’s causing the bad trend? The easiest – and perhaps erroneous – assumption would be to link unhealthy habits with the faltering economy: People are working more to make up for their debt, and they’re earning less money, eating cheaper food and smoking to kill stress – leaving them less time to exercise.

Gallup throws the blame on high gas prices, which have led to more expensive food and less consumer money to pay for it. But maybe it’s not that easy. Have Americans become complacent? Are we failing to see the connection between poor health and disease? Are we funding the healthcare, insurance and drug companies with our “the doctor will fix it” attitude?

What about false advertising, greenwashing and pseudo-healthy food products? How will all of this factor into Americans’ lifestyle and well-being?

These numbers may only represent a blip on the radar. However, Americans’ health – as well as its correlation with the state of the economy – will be an important trend to watch in the months and years ahead.

Another Fast-Food Greenwash: KFC Opens ‘Eco-Friendly’ Restaurant

Whether it’s due to a nagging sense of guilt or the pure delusion of PR staffs, greenwashing among fast-food chains appears to be a growing trend. Wendy’s and McDonald’s are just two of the companies to launch “green” campaigns in recent months, and Taco Bell spent a hefty sum defending the quality and sustainability of its “beef.”

The latest offender is KFC, which issued a press release Tuesday touting a new “eco-friendly” restaurant that it claims is helping the city of Indianapolis meet its sustainability goals.

For your amusement, I’ll provide the opening of the company statement:

“While the newest KFC in Indianapolis features the brand’s familiar red and white design scheme, it’s the color ‘green’ that is really going to have people talking.” 

Granted, the building is LEED-certified, according to the release. But we all know that combining the words “sustainable” and “KFC” in one sentence is an oxymoron of the first degree.

Perhaps notably, KFC’s parent company, Yum! Brands, also counts Taco Bell among its brands. I can’t blame the corporation for attaining LEED certification, of course, even if the fast-food chain represents the antithesis of sustainability. Nonetheless, corporate efforts to scheme investors into thinking the company and its products are actually “sustainable” are not only questionable, but outright laughable.

But hey, at least it got me a good chuckle.

Lawsuit Dropped: Taco Bell Settles Beef Over Fake-Meat Allegation

(Photo credit: Marler Clark L.L.P.)

If you’ve been deterred from indulging in that “Fourth Meal” lately, rest assured: Taco Bell’s “seasoned taco filling” is really meat, after all!

Okay, so that might be a tad optimistic, considering its list of ingredients. But the California woman who sparked the backlash in the first place has dropped her lawsuit without receiving a penny, according to a Reuters report.

In January, attorneys for Amanda Obney filed a class-action lawsuit against the fast-food chain, claiming the “seasoned taco filling” contained only 35% beef and therefore did not qualify as meat under the USDA’s minimum standards.

Since then, Taco Bell has countered the claims, of course, maintaining that its “signature recipe” contains 88% meat but that “Plain ground beef tastes boring.” It also launched a multimillion-dollar ad campaign — including this television spot – to fight the claims.

But does any of this really matter? Most of the people reading this right now — or who even knew about the lawsuit in the first place — wouldn’t touch a Chalupa anyway. On the other hand, after the initial media buzz about the fake-meat claim, there was still a snaking line of cars around my local Taco Bell drive-through.

So my question to you is, does knowledge really change consumer behavior? Join the conversation by leaving your comments.

A Sugar By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

Brace yourself; it’s happening again: Another self-serving group is lobbying to use deceptive rhetoric to brainwash the American public into thinking and behaving a certain way – in this case, tricking them into purchasing products made with high-fructose corn syrup.

According to several media reports, the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) has applied to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seeking to change the name of “high-fructose corn syrup” to “corn sugar,” because the group is worried about Americans’ negative perception of the substance.

Corn sugar. Sounds healthy, right? Well, the “corn” part, anyway. By attempting to change the name, the corn-refining industry is intentionally exploiting the public’s confusion regarding high-fructose corn syrup’s derivation, which actually involves the chemical conversion of corn starch into fructose.

There’s a reason why consumers perceive the substance as unhealthy — because it is. There have been numerous studies linking it to higher rates of diabetes and obesity, not to mention the resulting complications, such as heart disease.

Still, television campaigns, such as this one by the CRA, are attempting to dupe consumers into thinking they’re body “doesn’t know the difference” between high-fructose corn syrup and sugar from say, sugar cane. What these ads fail to mention is the chemically induced nature of the conversion process or that the country is using corn products as a sugar substitute simply because it’s cheap and abundant.

The good news is that consumers are becoming more informed and making smarter decisions, much in the same way they’ve made progress in regard to smoking. The tobacco industry has suffered from bad publicity, and the corn-refining industry should suffer that same fate.

Don’t let the CRA use deceptive PR tactics to mislead consumers. To urge the FDA to deny the CRA’s request, click here.