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What do we mean by "Green"? : consumers, agriculture and the food industry
"Greening"' is a term used to describe the process of change in the ideologies and practices of (largely) western social systems as they move toward the incorporation of environmental concerns. The proliferation of green terms, as part of this process, not only provides evidence of the significance of green discourse in contemporary society but also indicates the confusion and disagreement about the actual processes of change which are occurring. In this paper, an attempt is made to examine a number of prominent green terms, and to evaluate their utility in explaining the trajectory of particular social henomena. Our purpose is to seek some conceptual clarity in the application of green terminology, and to undertake an initial and provisional analysis of the significance of the greening of institutions and institutional practices. In other words, we are seeking, first, to clarifY what we mean when we use terms like corporate greening, green consumption and greenwash; and, second, to establish a framework which will enable us to evaluate what, if any, particular social actions can be accurately defined by the use of such terms. For example, when and under what circumstances are the actions of a company that undertakes to minimise the environmental effects of its production practices to be seen as genuine (corporate greening), and when is such action merely window-dressing (a greenwash)? We try to achieve these twin aims by considering the various ways green terms are being employed in agri-food discourse, and by providing examples from the organic farming industries in Australia and New Zealand, and the operations of a supermarket chain in the UK. This chapter discusses the emergence of globalisation and some of the impacts it is having on agriculture in general, and sugar in particular. In so doing, it focuses on some ideas of globalisation as proposed by Le Heron (1993) and McMichael (1996). Attention is then turned to the notion of the "level playing field" prior to a discussion of the kinds of problems currently facing the sugar industry and how Australian industry policy is changing in order to contend with such difficulties. The final section of the chapter speculates about some of the possible consequences of what is possibly the most significant restructuring of the Australian sugar industry since the beginning of the twentieth century.