The Equitable Food Initiative (EFI), a nonprofit organization that brings together workers, growers and retailers in the effort to produce safer, more responsibly grown fruits and vegetables, today announced that Whole Foods Market will be one of the first national retailers to carry labeled products from EFI-certified farms later this year. The certification will also be recognized in Whole Foods Market’s Responsibly Grown program for fresh produce and flowers, a comprehensive rating system that assesses growing practices on farms and presents customers with more information about how their products were grown.
“EFI has been working closely with Costco Wholesale and its suppliers to develop rigorous standards for safe and ethical produce. We are delighted that Whole Foods Market is now joining with us to recognize the commitment of EFI-certified growers, and we encourage more retailers to help expand this important work,” said Peter O’Driscoll, executive director at EFI. “EFI certification integrates labor conditions, pest management and food safety, so our bar is high. The growers that become certified are truly committed to improving the lives of farmworkers, while ensuring that the produce they provide to consumers meets the highest standards for safety and social responsibility.”
Whole Foods Market is a market-leader in supporting and driving sustainable agricultural practices, including a long history of support for certification programs that advance farmworker welfare. In 2014, the company introduced Responsibly Grown to address critical health and environmental concerns associated with food production, such as soil health, pesticide use, food safety, labor practices, greenhouse gases, water conservation, waste reduction and recycling. Responsibly Grown prohibits farmers from using some of the most hazardous pesticides still allowed in agriculture, and rewards growers who are taking major steps to protect human health and the environment.
EFI has worked with Whole Foods Market to benchmark EFI’s Standards for working conditions, pest management, and food safety to the Responsibly Grown rating system. As a result, farms holding an EFI certificate will be granted points toward earning the Responsibly Grown rating, and will not be required to submit additional evidence of compliance to Whole Foods Market’s rating system in the specified areas covered by EFI certification.
“We designed Responsibly Grown specifically to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments our growers have already achieved,” said Robin Foster, team leader for Whole Foods Market’s Responsibly Grown. “By benchmarking our program standards against existing third-party certifications like Organic, Fair Trade, Global Gap and others, we’re able to reduce redundancies for suppliers during the onboarding process while also giving them well-deserved credit for the work they’ve already done to earn certification. We’re thrilled to add EFI to our list of recognized certifications under our Responsibly Grown program.”