Like food labels, green building product labels can be misleading. What actually goes into the food products of the animals and plants we eat and the materials we put in our homes and places of work is sometimes a mystery. The Green Building Alliance can help designers and owners research building products that are labeled or certified by a third party organization; listing the product ingredients, sources, and how the product is manufactured. The label, or certification, is important, in the effort to limit greenwashing.
Food is also subjected to greenwashing. Organic labeling programs for food are regulated through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Food that contains less than 70% organic ingredients cannot use the organic label. When it comes to drugs, the USDA is now going to allow farmers to label their meat with a ractopamine-free label. The label informs consumers that the meat is free of the beta-agonist drug, which is used to build muscle and add weight to the animals in their last few weeks before going to slaughter. The hogs eat less food during that time, which lowers the cost to raise them. This might be a good thing for farmers; lowering their cost, but what about the human consumption of the drug? The Center for Food Safety claims the risk for humans is low. However, if China won’t eat our pork, why should Americans consume pork or meat from any animal that is given growth promotants? If building materials can be Red Listed because they contain chemicals that pose a risk to humans living and working around them, then I would think eating unnecessary drugs would be a greater health risk. Consumers need more options and education, not greenwashing designed to make us think that we are eating something that is good for us.