This spring 17 certified organic farmers signed on to a letter to Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey asking him to withdraw the company’s “Responsibly Grown” produce labeling program, at least temporarily. The farmers, all of whom sell produce to the 400+-store high-end grocery chain, objected to having to pay for the grocer’s marketing program and to the fact that non-organic produce could qualify to be labeled “GOOD,” “BETTER,” or even “BEST” under the program.
The Cornucopia Institute supported these growers, as did many other certified organic farmers and consumers around the country. It was a righteous fight – what we called “Robin Hood in reverse.” Here was a corporation, with a market capitalization exceeding $14.5 billion, asking mostly family-scale farmers, some of the best farmers in this industry, to pony up between $5,000 and $20,000 to comply with the program’s reporting requirements and, for some, purchase new equipment. That’s not an inconsequential amount for small- and medium-sized family farms. And the added record-keeping labor could crush some mom-and-pop outfits.
But most of all, the farmers philosophically took exception to one corporation, hiring their own private scientist, coming up with a list of good and bad agrichemicals. Most organic consumers don’t want to pick or choose. They buy organic and they shop at stores like Whole Foods because they don’t want to treat their children like laboratory rats. Read Full Article »