Whole Foods launches sustainability-rating program
September 13th, 2010
08:15 AM ET
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Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Markets announced today that it is launching a sustainability-rating program for wild-caught seafood sold in all of its 298 stores, becoming the first national retailer to provide that information to customers, courtesy of their partnership with Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The company has also stated that it is committed to ending sales of red-rated species by March 2013. Red or “avoid” ratings, as indicated by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, mean the species is currently suffering from overfishing, or that current fishing methods harm other marine life or habitats.

The most recently published national list includes, among others, Atlantic and imported Pacific cod, imported shrimp and swordfish, Tilapia from Asia and certain varieties of tuna. A downloadable pocket guide to sustanability ratings can be found at the Aquarium's website.

Says Carrie Brownstein, Whole Foods Market Seafood Quality Standards Coordinator of the company's decision, “At the end of the day, it’s a team effort. Our customers, buyers, fishermen, and fishery managers can all make smart decisions that move us in the direction of greater sustainability. With this new program, we are one step closer to our goal of moving our stores—and the seafood industry as a whole—toward healthier oceans.”

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Filed under: Business and Farming News • Fishing • Food Politics • News • Supermarkets • Sustainability

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. david iredale

    If WholeFoods is SERIOUS about sustainability, they should stop selling food that has been FLOWN long distances to their stores. For instance, during some months, they sell organic tomatoes from HOLLAND ... I refuse to eat food that has more frequent flyer miles than I do ... imagine how much jet fuel was burned in getting those tomatoes from farm to market. I'd rather buy food that is grown locally by conventional means.

    What this means, of course, is that if WholeFoods is seriously about sustainability, they will stop selling foods out of season. Fat chance of that happening. Until they do, you should avoid Whole Foods.

    March 3, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
  2. templescroll

    I don't believe anything Whole Foods says. They're buyers and marketing must work closely with China importers. The fancy color coding and 'natural' looking labels could be designed to get away with selling crap to consumers. After the 'Made in China' frozen food fiasco...I'll never trust Whole Foods again.San Mateo W.F. smells, the bathrooms are dirty/run down, the tables are filthy. W.F is becoming more like Ranch 99 Markets: get in-give us your money-get out, no FDA approval or accrediting necessary; eat and shop at our own risk.

    October 3, 2010 at 2:13 am |
  3. Michelle Bassett

    Whole Foods is way ahead of the curve, which is what I would expect from them. They are standing up for wholesome goodness and taking the first step in a great effort that will hopefully catch on with other retail food stores. I don't think it will happen overnight, but someone has to take the first step. Knowledge is power, and I thank them and Monterey Bay Aquarium for providing us with this knowledge about the seafood we will be consuming. I commend Whole Foods for putting their money where our mouths are!
    Michelle Bassett
    Carmel, CA

    September 13, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
    • david iredale

      Nonsense. They're ahead of the curve in some ways, but they're WAY behind the curve in others. The ONLY truly sustainable foods are foods that are grown LOCALLY. Organic tomatoes shipped from Holland to the U.S. are NOT sustainable. Unless they're willing to accept this and stock their stores accordingly, their claims of "sustainability" are more hype than substance.

      March 3, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
  4. Evil Grin

    Awesome! I mean it. I want to eat sustainable food. Problem is, you don't really know what is or isn't unless you do a lot of research on it. And really, you don't know if the company is telling the truth when they say they're farming sustainably. To be able to see at a glance would be a big help to me, and I think a lot of people like me.

    September 13, 2010 at 9:01 am |
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