U.S.: Whole Foods plans tiered labeling for sustainable produce

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U.S.: Whole Foods plans tiered labeling for sustainable produce

Beginning in fall 2014, Whole Foods Market will provide in-store guidance for ethically and environmentally conscious produce shoppers.wholefoods

A three-tier rating system will label produce and floral products with "good," "better" and "best" based on a series of criteria identified as significant for sustainable farming.

Edmund LaMacchia, global vice president of perishables, described the program as effort to enrich consumers' experience and support the company's supply partners.

"The new produce ratings will provide deeper transparency to our shoppers, helping them make conscious choices while also celebrating the great work and responsible practices of growers beyond their organic and local efforts," LaMacchia said.

Qualifications for the rankings include pest management, farmworker welfare, pollinator protection, water conservation and protection and soil health. The criteria also include management of ecosystems, biodiversity, waste, recycling and packaging, energy and climate.

The market said it seeks to recognize efforts made by organic growers and reward producers for pursuing certifications such as those provided by Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, Protected Harvest and Demeter Biodynamic.

The system highlights protection of crop pollinators by addressing some of their primary threats, said Eric Mader, assistant pollinator program director for The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

"Adopting the quality standards provides an immediate, meaningful, and long-term framework for protecting both crop yields and biodiversity," Mader said.

The company also emphasized the focus on pesticide reduction.

"The ratings provide an industry-leading approach that eliminates or restricts the most toxic pesticides from the nation’s food supply and provide incentive for growers to measure and reduce other pesticide use," the market said.



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