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Scorecard: Retailers Not Offering Enough Organic Food

Target, Costco and Whole Foods scored the best on a new report card on organic produce and bee-friendly policies. (Virginia Carter)
Target, Costco and Whole Foods scored the best on a new report card on organic produce and bee-friendly policies. (Virginia Carter)
October 25, 2016

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Bees and other pollinators are responsible for one of every three bites of food we eat, but 40 percent of all pollinating species are on the brink of extinction. In a new report, Friends of the Earth evaluated the country's biggest food retailers on how much organic produce they offer, and how they support protecting pollinators and pesticide reduction.

The group's Tiffany Finck-Haynes said of the top 20 food retailers, 17 received an F. She said demand for organic has experienced double-digit growth, but grocers aren't keeping up.

"A lot of the major food retailers have started to increase their organic offerings, but few of them have really adopted clear goals or metrics to continue to significantly increase their organic food offerings in the future," she explained.

Finck-Haynes said retailers aren't letting their customers know where they stand. On their websites, 11 of the 20 rated in the report don't provide basic information about their policies regarding organic food, pollinators and/or pesticides.

Finck-Haynes said retailers need to increase organic offering by 15 percent in the next decade, and put together a public plan that shows how they're trying to protect pollinators in the supply chain.

"There's a lot that retailers could do by adopting creative programs with their supply chain to help farmers grow their organic offerings, and then be able to sell that in their stores," she said.

Finck-Haynes said demand for organic food is skyrocketing, yet less than one percent of total U.S. farmland is in organic production.

"Without bees and other pollinators, our supermarket shelves would be pretty bare and empty," she added. "And they're an indicator species, so they're really telling us that their decline is most likely resulting in a larger decline that we're seeing for the rest of the species in our ecosystem."

The report said bees contribute an estimated $20 billion to the U.S. economy, and $217 billion to the global economy.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD