Whole Foods New ‘Responsibly Grown’ Program Receives Backlash from Organic Farmers

Sydney Barakat | ANTIMEDIA

Do you trust Whole Foods to accurately label food as Responsibly Grown?

Organic farmers have recently spoken out against Whole Foods’ new produce rating system, Responsibly Grown, implying that it contradicts the company’s efforts to promote organically produced products.

Essentially, Responsibly Grown labels products as either “good,” “better,” or “best.” That doesn’t seem too bad, right? Well, farmers are claiming that the rating system allows for conventionally grown produce to be labeled as just as good or better than organically-grown produce—and therein lies the issue: the produce ultimately does not have to be “organic” to be rated as “best.”

The Whole Foods program lists the following criteria for consideration when rating produce:

  • Soil health
  • Air, energy, and climate
  • Waste reduction
  • Farmworker welfare
  • Water conservation and protection
  • Ecosystems and biodiversity
  • Pest management

Further factors to be considered include GMOs, irradiation, and biosolids.

On a webpage that discusses organic certification in relation to the new system, Whole Foods also states:

Whole Foods Market® has and always will maintain a strong commitment to sourcing and offering organic produce. Organic produce will continue to be labeled in our stores. Responsibly Grown gives organic growers the opportunity to document achievement in additional areas such as energy, water and waste.”

However, organic farmers insist that the program will bring more harm than good, as has been stated in a letter to the co-founder of Whole Foods: “Whole Foods has done so much to help educate consumers about the advantages of eating an organic diet,”  the letter first acknowledges. It continues: “This new rating program undermines, to a great degree, that effort.”

The fact that we’re increasingly discussing the origins of our food, and what’s in it, is the most important aspect of this conflict. Whether our organic and/or GMO-free food comes from Whole Foods or another grocer is of little importance to the consumer in the long run. However, what is of our concern is how transparent these food giants are being when it comes to the produce that we consume.

Just some food for thought.

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