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After knocking Whole Foods around in some past articles (here and here), credit needs to be given where credit is due for the time being. Their latest release of the ‘Whole Foods Market Responsibly Grown Rating System’ is an honest attempt at cleaning up many areas of our food supply that have gone badly astray.

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After three years of research and planning, Responsibly Grown is the result of our collaboration with suppliers, scientists and issue experts to continue our strong commitment to organic, while embracing additional important topics and growing practices in agriculture today,” said Matt Rogers, global produce coordinator at Whole Foods Market. “We are excited to broaden the conversation to recognize additional growing practices and drive more transparency in the industry. – Source

One has to wonder if the actions of independent food activists have finally had an impact on corporate decision making. Could it be that Whole Foods is reacting to Mike Adams, The Health Ranger, who publicly released independent lab findings testing protein powders sold at Whole Foods, challenging them to remove products containing heavy metals, and threatening them with legal action?  Perhaps it was the realization that the Food Babe Army would eventually come looking for a fight and cause a public relations disaster similar to the fallen corporations of McDonald’s, Subway, Starbucks, General Mills and other giants. Maybe even the mass education of the dangers of GMO contamination in our food supply disseminated by Jeffrey Smith and the Institute of Responsible Technology forced the change.

I like to think Whole Foods did it because it was the right thing to do. However we ended up here, we march onwards into a brighter future where companies and corporations no longer foolishly ignore the consumers that keep them alive and relevant. I thank Whole Foods for one less thing I will have to answer for, at some future date, when my children ask me what my generation did to save their food independence and purity.

Many independent brands and smaller companies have already implemented various categories of the Whole Foods Market Responsibly Grown Rating System over the years proving its viability. These independent, small growers and businesses should be looked at as pioneers for going against the trends of the time and taking an unpopular stance amongst corporate giants. So now that we are all on the same page, what is it exactly that Whole Foods is measuring and rating? By default, this now immediately recognized gold standard has categories measuring:

  • Pest management (e.g. using beneficial insects to control pests)
  • Farmworker welfare (e.g. providing protective equipment for workers) 
  • Water conservation and protection (e.g. using efficient irrigation techniques)
  • Enhancing soil health (e.g. adding compost to soil; planting cover crops)
  • Ecosystems and biodiversity (e.g. planting wildflowers to restore natural bee habitat for pollinator protection)
  • Waste reduction (e.g. recycling plastics used in the field)
  • Air, energy and climate (e.g. solar panels for renewable energy)

Notable mention goes to Whole Foods for making an attempt at impacting the arena with GMO transparency, food irradiation and the use of biosoilds. However, Whole Foods publicly stated goal of GMO transparency by 2018 still leaves a lot to the imagination. Likely they are providing cover and allowing companies to change their suppliers from GMO to non-GMO for purposes of potential economic hardships for brands with words “contains GMO” on the label. Brands sporting such labels are being forewarned to pay close attention to their market share. In conclusion, Whole Foods is striving alongside the rest of the population for the goal of reaching 100 percent ratings of all fruits, vegetables and flowers over time. This is an admirable goal.

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