Would You Choose a "Good" or "Better" Apple? Whole Foods Begins Ranking Produce

If an avocado is labeled “better” and an apple is labeled “best”, are you going to change your evening guacamole making plans? This is an issue Whole Foods shoppers will soon have to consider. In a way, it’s almost like checking a clothing label, to see what materials were used and where your new garment was made.

The seemingly socially-conscious supermarket chain announced today that they will begin ranking their produce from good, better, and best, based on the level of responsible growing tactics from each item’s farmers.

Whole Foods’ ultimate title, “best”, will be reserved for pesticide-free products, also taking into account elements like water and energy use necessary for growing the produce, reports the Associated Press. To achieve even a “good” rating, suppliers must take at least sixteen steps to protect the air, soil, water and human health.  But why is Whole Foods selling products that don’t even qualify as “good”?

While many traditional supermarkets now have a separate organic section for produce and pre-processed foods, the major brands represented in these seemingly elite sections may not have any more positive environmental impact than a tomato farmer from Peru, who doesn’t use pesticides and uses natural irrigation tactics, but cannot afford official USDA organic certification. Whole Foods is distinguishing itself from traditional supermarkets by bridging the gap between producer and consumer—customers deserve to know where their food comes from, and at what expense to the environment.

Over 400 Whole Foods stores will implement this system starting today, with additional information via pamphlets and signs with the products ranking along with its price. Whole Foods already has a similar system implements with its seafood sustainability conditions and animal welfare conditions for meat products. While many do not attribute non-organic bananas to animal suffering, of course the issue of pesticides harming farmers and eaters as well as the environment in which these chemically-treated bananas currently thrive is relevant to a greater world picture.

Whole Foods new labeling, though some are already skeptical about the arbitrary adjectives used to describe the produce, will hopefully encourage grocery shoppers to think about the impact their meals have on the environment.

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