Certified Organic Farmers Challenge Whole Foods Labeling


Whole Foods’ newly launched “Responsibly Grown” rating program is not sitting well with certified organic farmers.  In an attempt to rate the entire farming process, Whole Foods has devised a 7-tier value scheme− doling out points in the categories of soil health, waste reduction, and farm worker welfare, to name a few. However, just 10 of the possible 300 points for produce are designated for organic certification. This can lead to conventionally grown produce ranking at the “best” level, above organic produce.

On June 23, 2015, a coalition of Whole Foods organic farmer-suppliers, concerned organic farmers, and agricultural and environmental organizations− including OSGATA− sent a letter to Whole Foods CEO John Mackey.

The group writes:

“Our greatest concern is the devaluation of the organic label in Whole Foods Market stores. 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. Growing ecologically produced food isn’t cheap. And to that we must add the considerable cost of organic certification. Whole Foods has done so much to help educate its customers about the advantages of eating an organic diet. This new rating program undermines, to a great degree, those efforts.”

Read the full letter to Whole Foods CEO John Mackey here.







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