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    Whole Foods Unveils 'Responsibly Grown' Produce Rating

    Assesses growing practices impacting human health, environment

    Whole Foods Market unveiled today its "Responsibly Grown" produce rating system that assesses growing practices impacting human health and the environment.

    The system labels fruit, vegetables and flowers as "good," "better" or "best" in an effort to help shoppers make informed choices, and also prohibits neurotoxins, such as pesticides, that are still allowed in agriculture.

    Responsibly Grown is the result of our collaboration with suppliers, scientists and issue experts to continue our strong commitment to organic, while embracing additional important topics and growing practices in agriculture today,” said Matt Rogers, global produce coordinator at Austin-based Whole Foods. “We are excited to broaden the conversation to recognize additional growing practices and drive more transparency in the industry.”

    A product earning a "good" rating indicates that the grower has taken the necessary steps to protect the environment in which it's grown, and has complied with the program's pesticide policy, which only allows the use of the EPA's registered pesticides.

    A "better" rating indicates advanced performance, and a "best" rating indicates "exceptional, industry-leading performance" with regard to the categories of pest management, farmworker welfare, water conservation and protection, enhancing soil health, ecosystems and biodiversity, waste reduction, and air, energy and climate.

    In addition to produce growing practices, the Responsibly Grown program addresses the threats facing pollinators, including high-risk pesticide use, loss of habitat, and disease spread from managed bees to wild pollinators. Four of the most common neonicotinoids currently allowed in the U.S. will be prohibited for growers to reach the Responsibly Grown “best” level.

    Some 50 percent of Whole Foods' produce has undergone analysis with the program; 100 percent will be reached over time, according to Whole Foods.


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