“I acknowledged that farm workers were seldom given the spotlight, I saw this as an opportunity to honor the hard work of my parents, and farm workers all over the country,” Gonzalez told ATTN:. “They are the hardest working people in the world, and hardly ever are given the dignity and respect they deserve. I needed them to see, this wasn’t simply my success, this was a success of 22 years in the fields, this was all them.”
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.
When local food systems are derided for their lack of efficiency, the attached story is the type of reporting that we need to counter with. After all, efficient can be the enemy of sensible. The longterm unequal distribution of resources is one of the main reasons for the necessity for our work, painstaking and incremental as it is. It is also important to note that as the story is written, it will lead some to blame the producers or port workers rather than the industrial system that discourages local distribution for this food.
I might also suggest that this book should be required reading for any local system actor; Princen’s description of the history of the overuse of the term efficiency is provocative and he makes a fascinating case for inserting sufficiency rather than efficiency into formulas for production especially as related to finite (such as natural) resources and labor.
This is an excellent snapshot of some of Canada’s work to deal with food insecurity as well as a short list of some great actions being taken to expand past emergency food to assert food sovereignty and skills such as seed-saving, foraging and many others. Glad to see Food Share and The Stop in here- two Ontario groups that I admire greatly and watch closely for ideas to bring to the U.S.
Eight stories that will give you food for thought
Food insecurity, which has only been measured specifically and consistently on the Canadian Community Health Survey since 2005, can mean a sliding scale from worrying about next week’s grocery budget, to buying mostly canned goods instead of pricier milk and vegetables, to skipping meals entirely. All three scenarios are a problem; the latter two have significant health consequences.
The linked article below tells of Whole Foods’ campaign to let America know of their “cheaper” prices and is interesting news on a few fronts.
One, that the world’s leading natural and organic food store is sharing price comparisons and acknowledging the need to identify costs to their shoppers. Co-CEO Mackay says, “For a long time Whole Foods had the field to ourselves, pretty much. That was nice, but we don’t any longer,” he said on an earnings call with investors. “So we’re adapting to the reality of the marketplace.”
Secondly this: the chain is lowering its prices, particularly on produce.
This may be an indicator of the strength of the farmers market movement that has led WF to become more competitive on fresh produce. That may seem a far jump for some of my readers, but since it was not an issue when they competed only with other grocery stores, I am inclined to partly credit the energy of the increased number of farmers market outlets for fresh produce for one of the reasons for this.
Or, it may be that the chain feels that they can reduce their costs by reducing their waste in produce (reducing spoilage is an area that stores should always be working on to increase profits) or (sigh) maybe the chain feels it can ask for lower prices from farmers/producers more easily than companies from whom they buy value-added products.
I’d love to hear others thoughts on this news and how they think it affects farmers markets and other direct marketing outlets.
Slow Food maven, radio host and author Poppy Tooker did a great show on seafood on Louisiana Eats: Gerard Maras (a giant among chefs in New Orleans) shared his boiling technique, Tenney Flynn who is still the best seafood chef in the French Quarter, talked about fish handling and finally Poppy and her guests discussed the ecological issues facing the harvesting community. Seafood is something Poppy knows a great deal about-she is a fisherwoman herself and one of the champions of fishing families in Louisiana and across North America.
Can you remember to mark “listen to Louisiana Eats” to your Saturday calendar? I’d recommend it.
“Monsanto told children at his school that they created jobs for people and that they helped to feed the world…
Monsanto also told a fable to children about how one farmer tried to get rid of Monsanto seed and the stuff they spray on their crops and that it caused him great trouble. Additionally, the company warned against saving heirloom, organic seed, though this particular term wasn’t used.
When this child’s parent tried to contact the school about the uncanny way in which the Monsanto Corporation was trying to brainwash his child, he was referred to his child’s handbook. It turns out that the school’s principal was actually the one who set up permission for Monsanto to speak to the children.”