Progress in transforming current food consumption and production practice in a sustainable direction is slow. Communicative, sustainable consumer policy instruments such as eco-labeling schemes have limited impact outside the green segment and within the mainstream market. This article asks how sustainably produced food can be described in order to promote such food. Based on six cases, it aims to conceptualize the common denominators of sustainable food production by drawing on recent literature on sustainable marketing and on food and sustainable development. Contradictions and implications in terms of labeling schemes, global sourcing and consumer food practice are discussed.