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Organic Farmers against Whole Foods’ New Rating System

by Redaktion (comments: 0)

Five organic farmers gave Whole Food’s co-CEO John Mackey a statement concerning the company’s new production rating system. Whole Foods has long used scales, like their numerical 1-5 meat ratings, to help consumers find the ideal point where price meets ethics. Within the newly introduced “Responsibly Grown” program, produce is labeled either “conventional” or “organic,” with further categorization like “unrated,” “good,” “better” and “best”, according to sustainable farming practices but irrespective of certification.

Basically, the farmers told Mackey that with these ratings, his company is undervaluing their work to produce organic food. A big part of that has to do with specific expenses ($5,000 - $20,000 per farm) that goes into participating in the Whole Foods system, Food Republic ( reports. 

Not only did the farmers state that it is not cool to be paying these amounts — essentially a sort of required marketing fee just to have their produce in Whole Foods — but they also criticized the scheme itself. They wrote in the letter that “the ‘Responsibly Grown’ program allows conventional farmers utilizing lower-cost management techniques, still incorporating toxic inputs, to unfairly compete with Certified Organic produce in your stores on a level footing with — or even rated better than — organic farmers.” As an example, the farmers pointed out that conventional Mexican asparagus can be qualified as “best” whereas the local organic asparagus only gets the mark “good”.


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