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Whole Foods launches Responsibly Grown, a Phenomenal Produce Rating System

Whole Foods launches Responsibly Grown, a Phenomenal Produce Rating System

In my Wednesdays at Whole Foods column last December, I wrote about how the company would be rolling out a very innovative produce rating system in 2014. Well, the wait is over. After three years of exhaustive research, planning, and collaboration with suppliers, scientists and issue experts, Responsibly Grown, as the program is officially known, was […]

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LivingMaxwell.com

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In my Wednesdays at Whole Foods column last December, I wrote about how the company would be rolling out a very innovative produce rating system in 2014.

Well, the wait is over.

After three years of exhaustive research, planning, and collaboration with suppliers, scientists and issue experts, Responsibly Grown, as the program is officially known, was just announced this morning.

And my enthusiasm about this initiative back then has been echoed by many industry leaders today.

THE PROGRAM

Responsibly Grown is a produce rating system that assesses growing practices that impact human health and the environment.

* The new rating system labels fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers as GOOD, BETTER, or BEST to help shoppers make more informed choices in the produce and floral departments.

The areas that determine a product’s rating include:

– Pest management, including prohibited and restricted pesticides
– Farm worker welfare
– Pollinator protection
– Water conservation and protection
– Soil health
– Ecosystems
– Biodiversity
– Waste reduction and recycling and packaging
– Air, energy, and climate

responsibly-grown-ratings

* There is a real emphasis on protecting bees, a vitally important area that has been completely neglected by our government.

The program prohibits the use of several of the most hazardous neurotoxins still allowed in agriculture, including the four primary neonicotinoid pesticides (clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam) linked to bee declines.

* Responsibly Grown also prohibits the use of several organophosphate insecticides, which recent studies indicate can impair neurological development in children born to mothers exposed in diet or by working in agriculture and living in nearby communities.

* More than 50% of the produce in all of Whole Foods Market stores in the U.S. will be rated, with the goal of having 100% of all fruits, vegetables, and flowers rated over time.

MY TAKE

Responsibly Grown will not only pressure farmers to decrease their use of super-toxic pesticides that harm both the environment and farm workers, but shoppers are now getting an unprecedented level of information about the products that they are purchasing.

To be able to get such deep insight into a farmer’s commitment to environmental and social responsibility is of tremendous value, and it also empowers the consumer like never before.

What’s even more amazing is the impact that Responsibly Grown is already having.

“As a result of this program, we are already hearing from fruit and vegetable farmers who are creating wildflower-rich habitat for bees, and working to reduce or eliminate pesticides on farms from New Jersey to Iowa to California,” said Eric Mader, assistant pollinator program director for The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. “This type of action is the first and most important step in reversing the ongoing decline of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.”

Just like it did with its historic GMO-labeling initiative, Whole Foods Market is again raising the bar when it comes to offering transparency to its customers. Furthermore, the company has taken a real stand on key agricultural issues with Responsibly Grown and is holding farmers firmly accountable for their operational practices.

Whole Foods Market deserves a ton of credit for this launching this groundbreaking program. We’re all much, much better off for it.

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19 Comments

  • An attention-grabbing dialogue is price comment.I believe that it’s best to write extra on this subject, it may not be a taboo topic however typically persons are.

  • Azure says:

    I think it is extremely important for people to know what they are putting in their bodies. Hopefully this system will lead the way for food to be properly produced and labeled.

  • Theresa Feiner says:

    Max, do you know if this will this be a 3rd party certification? Would have more credibility if that’s the case.

  • Thanks for sharing Max! Love how Whole Foods’ continually demonstrates “conscious capitalism”! Let’s keep the power in the people’s hands!!

  • Mike Machi says:

    It’s a start but having worked in the industry I know how truly corrupt it is. We need a standard inspection process that protects the consumer from airborne disease.

  • Jerry Johnston says:

    How are you going to know what to believe unless you have exacting levels of pesticide, herbicide, chemical fertilizer, etc. Farmers will be able to cheat and you don’t how much chemical pollution exists. For that reason, it’s a terrible idea. They can do whatever they want with no finite measurements as how much they are putting. Max I can’t believe your even considering this.

  • Esther Cook says:

    Feeding the world requires maintaining an advanced civlization. The higher the technology and the higher the world’s population, the more solutions there are. This requires that we not destroy the world’s soils. GMOs totally kill soils. In Colorado, I have received several telephone calls from “farmers” and two mailings about the “badly written” right to know law and how it will hurt “farmers,” etc. Contribute to our campaign!

    GMO transparency means letting us know whether any ingredient was created by gene modification techniques. These involve using viruses or bacteria to add genes to organisms. Seedless produce is NOT produced that way. It is a hybrid of a normal plant with 4 copies of each chromosome with one that has only two copies (like us). The 3-copy hybrid can’t make seeds because the chromosomes get scrambled when they try to divide evenly.
    These can be grown organically. However, my taste buds and nose tell me that these fruits are less nutritious, and I try to get seeded varieties when I can.

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Esther,

      I agree. GMOs totally kill the soil because of the toxic chemicals sprayed on them, the lack of crop rotation, and lack of cover crops.

      Live well,
      Max

  • Nogmos says:

    Just wondering how seedless grapes can be organic? If they are all are seedless isn’t there a high probability that they are genetically modified thus none organic?

  • Kelly says:

    Feeding the starving parts of the world….. now that is a game changer and Whole Foods will do nothing to contribute to that problem with their marketing scheme.

  • Sarah-Marie says:

    What is GMO transparency?

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Sarah-Marie,

      GMO transparency means labeling foods that contain GMOs. Right now, 64 countries around the world require that GMOs be labeled on food product packaging but the U.S. does not. So, right now, we have no GMO transparency.

      Hope this helps.

      Live well,
      Max

  • Michael says:

    GAMECHANGER!!! Why shop for food anywhere else?

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