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Retailers "Not Offering Enough" Organic Food; MA Consumers Demand More

Target, Costco and Whole Foods scored best on a new report card on organic produce and bee-friendly policies. (Northeast Organic Farming Association)
Target, Costco and Whole Foods scored best on a new report card on organic produce and bee-friendly policies. (Northeast Organic Farming Association)
October 28, 2016

BOSTON – 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.

Julie Dawson, executive director of the Massachusetts Chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association said that of the top 20 food retailers, 17 received an F. At the same time, she said consumers in the Bay State are on the front lines advocating for change with their pocketbooks.

"Well, the message is, you really make a difference by how you eat," she said. "We can change the world. You can do that by how you eat, and when you go to a grocery store and you say 'I want organic food here,' that's how it is going to happen."

Rawson is pleased that the report is calling attention to the threat to bees. It also noted that 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.

Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food futures campaigner for the Friends of the Earth 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. The report said bees contribute an estimated $20 billion to the U.S. economy, and $217 billion to the global economy.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA