An open letter to Whole Foods Market Inc.

To: Whole Foods Regional Procurement
RE: Request to stop purchasing and to remove from stores sugar produced in Florida

Friends of the Everglades requests that Whole Foods stop selling sugar produced in Florida; products that fail to meet Whole Foods’ high standards.

On the Whole Foods website, consumers are informed about what organic means. ”Organic agriculture is a production method that emphasizes the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality. Organic food products are produced using: Agricultural management practices that promote healthy eco-systems and prohibit the use of genetically engineered seeds or crops, sewage sludge, long-lasting pesticides, herbicides or fungicides.”

Florida-produced sugar does not meet these standards.

For example, Florida Crystals — a major producer whose brands including Dominoes –markets its product to Whole Foods as “certified organic”. Its sugar is grown in a region around Lake Okeechobee called the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA).

The byproducts of sugarcane cultivation on 700,000 acres in the EAA are highly damaging to the Everglades ecosystem. Soil used to produce sugar in the Everglades Agricultural Area has not been conserved. It is severely depleted. Water management practices – influenced by industry — have been the subject of federal lawsuits by environmental groups. If the industry does “promote healthy ecosystems”, it is only to the degree required by the results of litigation. The record of Florida Crystals – just one example – is clear.

Although industry follows “best management practices”, efforts by environmental groups to strengthen BMP’s are constantly opposed by industry. Moreover, current BMP’s are only enforced over the entire region; no individual sugar growers are held liable.

Although Florida’s sugar producers could implement effective BMP’s, for instance by drastically limiting soil amendments that promote methyl mercury in the Everglades, instead it protects its privilege by externalizing these costs.

Too much phosphorous draining from fertilizer-laden sugar fields destroys the Everglades food chain. In some parts of the Everglades, methyl mercury contamination is so severe that eating fish from Everglades canals is a significant health risk.

For Whole Foods valued customers, Free Trade alternatives to Florida-produced sugar already provide a diversity of choice.

Friends of the Everglades is a non-profit environmental organization based in Miami. We are among more than fifty local, state and national organizations comprising the Everglades Coalition, Friends’ mission is to defend and to protect America’s fabled wetland and to help educate the public on the importance of restoring the River of Grass. Marjory Stoneman Douglas – a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom – founded our organization to defend the Everglades from overt and covert forms of exploitation.

We hope for an opportunity to discuss our request and look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely,

Alan Farago, President


Cc: Mr. John Mackey, Whole Foods Market Inc.

Categories Conservation, Environmental Issues, Take Action | Tags: | Published in July, 2014 |

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