Whole Foods Releases Responsibly Grown Produce Rating System

Last week, Whole Foods Market launched Responsibly Grown, a tiered produce rating system that assesses growing practices that impact human health and the environment. The new rating system labels fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers as “good,” “better” or “best” to help shoppers make more informed choices in the produce and floral departments, and it prohibits some of the most hazardous neurotoxins still allowed in agriculture.

Whole Foods Market is launching Responsibly Grown by rating hundreds of products with key suppliers, more than 50 percent of produce nationwide. The goal of reaching 100 percent ratings of all fruits, vegetables and flowers will be achieved over time.

To earn a “good” rating, a farm must take 16 major steps to protect air, soil, water and human health. Growers must also comply with the Responsibly Grown pesticide policy, which restricts growers to using only U.S. Environmental Protection Agency registered pesticides, regardless of the country of origin. In other words, farms outside the U.S. cannot supply Whole Foods Market with fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers grown using pesticides not allowed in the U.S., with very limited exceptions including for crops not grown in the U.S. Growers also cannot use biosolids or irradiation and must commit to GMO transparency.

A “better” rating indicates advanced performance, and a “best” rating indicates exceptional, industry-leading performance in a scoring system covering multiple topics in each of these key categories:

•Pest management (e.g. using beneficial insects to control pests)

•Farmworker welfare (e.g. providing protective equipment for workers)

•Water conservation and protection (e.g. using efficient irrigation techniques)

•Enhancing soil health (e.g. adding compost to soil; planting cover crops)

•Ecosystems and biodiversity (e.g. planting wildflowers to restore natural bee habitat for pollinator protection)

•Waste reduction (e.g. recycling plastics used in the field)

•Air, energy and climate (e.g. solar panels for renewable energy)

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Mrs. Green's Offers English As Second Language For Associates

Mrs. Green’s Natural Market is offering English as a Second Language (ESL) courses for associates across New York’s Westchester County as part of a larger investment into the company’s workforce.

Mrs. Green’s launched the ESL classes at six stores in Westchester after several requests from associates. One of the chain’s associates personally designed the curriculum for and leads the language classes. The goal is to provide every associate with the confidence to speak to coworkers, customers, neighbors, friends and family in English.

“Our associates are our most important asset,” said Natural Markets Food Group CEO Pat Brown. “These language classes continue our efforts to invest in our own people and make sure they have the resources they need—from health benefits and good wages to quality training—to feel at home.” By hosting the classes at the stores themselves and maintaining a low student to teacher ratio, the company hopes to make it as easy as possible for associates to participate.

Natural Markets Food Group (NMFG) is the parent company of Mrs. Green’s Natural Markets, Planet Organic Markets across Canada, and Richtree Natural Markets Restaurants in Toronto. NMFG is expanding its U.S. presence, which began in the New York Tri-State area and now includes the Mid-Atlantic region and Chicago.

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Fairway Market Names Dorothy Carlow As CMO

Fairway Group Holdings Corp. has appointed Dorothy Carlow as chief merchandising officer. Ms. Carlow will lead the merchandising team and the company’s buying and sales strategies. Ms. Carlow comes to Fairway from her most recent position as chief merchandising officer at Earth Fare, a North Carolina-based specialty supermarket chain, where she led merchandising, marketing, transportation and logistics.

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Latest Word in New Channels...

The Ebola medical crisis may threaten the world’s chocolate supply. The African countries with the worst Ebola outbreaks neighbor three countries that produce nearly 60 percent of the world’s cocoa.

• PECO Pallet’s depot in Hazleton, Pa., has been certified by the Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI) for Level 2 HACCP-Based Food Safety Plans. PECO is the first pallet company in North America to achieve SQF certification, focused on food safety prevention controls for packaging and shipping materials.

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