Whole Foods' Fruit & Vegetable Rankings Will Grade Your Produce "Good," "Better," Or "Best"

The next time you go grocery shopping, you might just see something new. High-end grocery chain Whole Foods announced its new labeling system Wednesday, which categorizes fruits and vegetables based on the supplier's farming practices. The new system, which will begin its rollout across 400 stores immediately, separates certain produce into three categories: "good," "better," and "best." You'll be able to choose what farms to support, basically.

The new "Responsibly Grown" labeling system will exclude produce that has been treated with most popular pesticides. While the specifications are not nearly as stringent as those to be USDA Certified Organic, Whole Foods executives hope it will encourage non-organic farmers to lay off the chemicals and implement other environmentally friendly farming practices.

According to its blog, some of the reasons to support responsible farming include:

An estimated 5.2 billion pounds of pesticides are used worldwide each year.

Agriculture uses 70% of the world’s accessible fresh water.

Since 1960, an estimated one-third of the world’s farmable land has been lost through erosion and other degradation.

Agriculture accounts for 10–12% of the world’s human-generated greenhouse gas emissions.

Pollinators are crucial to more than two-thirds of the world’s crop species, yet bee and butterfly populations are in serious decline.

Anyone who's been to Whole Foods on a budget may cringe at the idea of more labels, because more labels tend to mean more money. Whole Foods is notorious for being expensive (or is it?), but you won't pay any more for specifically labeled produce.

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Some of the qualities Whole Foods will take into consideration when deciding how to label an item include soil health; air, energy and climate; waste reduction; farm worker welfare; water conservation and protection; ecosystems and biodiversity; and pest management. Additionally, their "best," rating takes protection of bees and butterflies into consideration.

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How will they enforce it? AP reports that Whole Foods will be using an internal website to screen applicants, and will conduct onsite audits if necessary. Whole Foods also rates their meat and fish based on animal welfare and sustainability standards. Needless to say, you'll see me there grabbing some avocados ASAP.


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