Matt Rogers, associate global produce coordinator at Whole Foods, said the program was an attempt to help consumers make choices, and he noted that by forbidding some if not all pesticides and awarding points for conservation and reduced water use, Whole Foods is raising the bar for conventional suppliers and inching them closer to organic standards.
“Organic is an incredibly deep standard, and at Whole Foods we celebrate that in very consistent, long-term ways,” said Mr. Rogers, who worked for more than three years to put the program together. “But the organic standard does not cover water, waste, energy, farmworker welfare, and all of these topics are really important, too.”
That means, however, the conventionally grown produce may end up with a higher rating. For instance, photos taken at a Whole Foods store in Capitola, Calif., and included with the farmers’ letter show a heap of conventionally grown asparagus from Mexico that is rated “best” for $4.99. Yet another photo, taken at a Whole Foods some 30 miles north in Cupertino, shows a pile of organic asparagus from Durst Organic Growers that is rated “good,” the lowest Responsibly Grown rating, for $7.99.
“This program is our reaction to a fast-moving marketplace that gives us an opportunity to engage on these issues with our supply chain in a way we haven’t been able to before,” Mr. Rogers said.
Supply chain? oh he means farmers and harvesters.