How Whole Foods Is Helping Encourage More Climate-Friendly Consumer Behavior
When it comes to building mainstream support for climate solutions, what leaders do is just as important as what they say. As this Think Progress article reports, Whole Foods grocery recently signed on to sell aesthetically flawed (but perfectly edible) fruits and vegetables in some of its Northern California stores, with the goal of expanding the program to all their stores nationwide.
Food waste is a huge issue in the United States – up to 30 percent of the food that’s grown never even makes it to stores because it doesn’t meet the aesthetic standards Americans are used to. Instead, that food ends up in landfills, where it creates methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
Whole Foods is known for quality, so for them to sell “imperfect” produce sends a strong message that a two-pronged carrot or a lumpy potato is just as tasty and nutritious as a more attractive specimen.
This approach encompasses several of our best practices for climate communication. It makes switching to more climate-friendly behavior easy, by not requiring people to change their shopping habits. It offers consumers a tangible way to make a difference. It shows that climate solutions don’t have to involve sacrifice. And it uses a trusted leader to send the message.
By Natasha Geiling, climate reporter for Think Progress
Whole Foods might be synonymous with both high quality and high prices, but now the supermarket is trying something a little different: selling ugly produce that would otherwise be rejected by grocery stores for not conforming to strict aesthetic standards.
In a move announced late last week, Whole Foods said that it would be teaming up with the California-based company Imperfect Produce to sell misshapen, bruised, or otherwise “imperfect” fruits and vegetables in their stores. The pilot program will initially take place at a handful of northern California stores beginning in April, but food waste activists hope that the program will eventually expand to encompass all Whole Foods stores throughout the country.
Imperfect Produce, which launched last summer, currently delivers misshapen produce at a 30 percent discount rate to some 2,700 customers in the Oakland and Berkeley area. The company hopes to expand to most major American cities in the next three to five years, but CEO Ben Simon also sees grocery stores as a crucial tool in helping get produce that would otherwise be discarded into the hands of consumers.
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