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Whole Foods To Launch Sustainability Index For Produce

Whole Foods Market has announced it will begin rating the sustainability of its produce and flowers in September next year.

Vegetables labeled and displayed at a Whole Foods Market

Photo: Masahiro Ihara (flickr)

Whole Foods, one of the first retailers to label organic produce, has announced it will offer a sustainability rating as well in September 2014.

Label It Sustainable

One of the country’s largest retailers of organic foods has announced it will start labeling its produce with a simplified sustainability index by September 2014.

Whole Foods Market said in a release that it would boil down factors like pesticides, the welfare of farm workers, water and energy use, packaging as well as climate and pollinator impact into a three-tiered scale: good, better and best.

“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,” said Edmund LaMacchia, the company’s global vice president of perishables, in a news release.

The sustainability index is the company’s latest step in a mission to inform customers about the practices of its suppliers, including organic farming, genetic modification, gluten and fair trade practices.

The company announced in March this year that it would label all of its products that contain GMO ingredients. It also lobbied in favor of a grassroots campaign in Washington state for GMO labeling.

Bumps In The Road

Despite support for new food labels, Whole Foods has weathered a few public relations kerfuffles this year, including allegations that two Spanish-speaking employees in New Mexico were mistreated.

The company has also taken heat for the controversial views of its co-founder and co-CEO, John Mackey, who is an outspoken opponent of labor unions and considers climate change to be a natural phenomenon with possible benefits.

In 2009 Mackey wrote an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal criticizing President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan, which sparked boycotts.

Read More:

  • Whole Foods’ New Produce Ratings: Transparency Bears Fruit (Civil Eats)
  • The Co-Founder Of Whole Foods Makes A Case For Conscious Capitalism (Globe And Mail)
  • Whole Foods Adjusts To Limelight (Seattle Times)
Chad Bouchard

Chad Bouchard is a veteran reporter and WFIU alum who has covered wild and wooly beats from Indonesia to Capitol Hill. His radio work has aired on NPR, PRI and Voice of America, and his writing has appeared in The Sunday Telegraph and Scientific American’s health magazine, Lives. He has also spent a lifetime gardening, foraging and eating weird stuff.

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