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U P F R ONT | FO OD & DRINK

Pacific Tomato Growers

Produce Partners Whole Foods Market’s Responsibly Grown program highlights sustainably positive farming practices BY ADAM STONE

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These practices are worthy of highlight for consumers, says Michael Rozyne, Red Tomato’s founder: “There is no recognition for the different problems in different growing regions, and so there is little recognition of what our growers do.” While the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “certified organic” label recognizes some best practices in farming and remains the gold standard, there’s room for complementary ratings. Among them are those given by Whole Foods

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Market, which, in 2014, introduced its Responsibly Grown certification program as a way to recognize and reward the efforts taken by conventional, non-organic suppliers and distributors like Red Tomato and give farmers credit for eco-friendly agricultural production methods not covered by the USDA’s organic program. Responsibly Grown embraces practices that aim to positively affect crops, people and the planet. Certification goes to growers who maintain good soil

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suppliers participate in the Responsibly Grown program

health, reduce waste, ensure farm workers have safe working environments and encourage biodiversity. “There are many certification programs that are available to customers and that speak to some issues, but there is no system program that covers all of the bases,” says Matt Rogers, senior global

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ed Tomato in Plainville, Mass., holds its 40-plus growers to a high standard. The nonprofit distributor of regionally grown fruits and vegetables requires producers to use strict eco-friendly farming practices, such as employing insect predators as pest control or using pheromones to disrupt the pest reproduction cycle. Some protect pollinators by managing wildflower growth, while others emphasize crop rotation in order to build healthy soil.

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