Life without pollinators would be a lot less sweet. That’s the message Whole Foods Market and the Xerces Society are delivering this month as part of the duo’s “share the buzz” campaign to raise awareness around the plight of pollinators, and to inspire shoppers to be part of the solution.
One in every three bites of food comes from plants that depend on pollinators, and with pollinator populations declining at alarming rates, the availability of ingredients in many of the baked goods people enjoy every day is being threatened.
To showcase the vital role pollinators play in the global food supply, Whole Foods Market’s Fremont, California, store gave shoppers a startling preview of what their bakery choices would be if pollinators vanished. The before-and-after photos are disturbing - as are the findings:
- 97 percent of the dessert choices featured in the bakery department would either disappear or would be significantly altered; only 32 of 1,057 items remained in their original form.*
- With key ingredients such as chocolate, coffee, almonds, berries, carrots and even vanilla relying on pollinators for production, hundreds of desserts--from specialty treats like macaroons and tiramisu to everyday favorites like chocolate chip cookies--would be history.
- Dairy-based dessert options would be scarce. Pollinators are vital to crops that feed cattle, including alfalfa; without them, there’d be no more cheesecakes, crème brulee, thickly iced cakes, puddings, creamy tarts or éclair fillings. Even the most basic choices like plain white cupcakes that require dairy ingredients would be limited.
“Sweet tooth or not, life without dessert would be tough to swallow,” said Eric Mader, pollinator program co-director for The Xerces Society. “But with one-third of the world’s food crops depending on disappearing pollinator species, that may one day be a reality. The good news: it’s not too late. With support from Whole Foods Market and its shoppers and suppliers, our organization is working with farmers nationwide to help them create wildflower habitat and to adopt less pesticide-intensive practices, which will help pollinators thrive.”
With shoppers’ support, Whole Foods Market and its suppliers have donated more than $547,000 to the Xerces Society since 2012. These funds have helped create or improve more than 186,000 acres of pollinator habitat in the U.S., with tens of thousands more acres in development.
“This campaign is all about inspiring people to take small steps that make a big difference for these small heroes of our food supply,” said Lee Kane, mission and culture coach for Whole Foods Market. “Even simple strategies like shopping organic or planting native wildflowers can tip the balance back in favor of our pollinators.”
Customers can also “share the buzz” by choosing Responsibly Grown outdoor potted plants, or by purchasing pollinator-friendly products from brands that are supporting the Xerces Society’s conservation efforts, including:
- Cascadian Farm - The organic cereal, snacks and frozen produce brand protects pollinators through research funding and organic farming. Brand packaging features “bee friendlier” codes that consumers enter on bee-friendlier.com, which trigger 25 cent donations to pollinator conservation efforts of their choice. The company also recently announced a new commitment to plant thousands of acres of pollinator habitat on supplier farms by 2020.
- Blue Diamond - This almond product maker protects pollinators by donating to research on bee health and by planting flowering ground covers around its almond orchards.
- Whole Foods Market’s limited edition 365 Everyday Value Pollinator-Friendly Almonds and Almond Butters - Whole Foods Market launched its pollinator-friendly almond products to directly support a pilot program developed by the Xerces Society, and Nevada Ranch in Le Grange, California, which is working to integrate native wildflower habitat and improved pesticide protection in large-scale almond production.
Find product information, kid-friendly educational activities, videos spotlighting lesser-known pollinators like moths, butterflies, fireflies and hummingbirds, and more at: wfm.com/pollinators.
*The only dessert items that remained unaltered were soy-based vegan “cheesecake” and coconut macaroons. Vegan oatmeal raisin cookies, vegan peanut butter cookies, plain mini cheesecakes, angel food cake, vegan white cake and lemon sticky toffee pudding also remained, but in very limited quantities or with recipe alterations.