Bananas produced at EARTH University’s commercial plantation in the Caribbean province of Limón this month were classified as “best” at Whole Foods stores in Canada and the U.S.
The supermarket chain’s new “Responsibly Grown” produce rating system was launched earlier in October and divides fruits, flowers and vegetables into three categories: Good, Better and Best, based on suppliers’ farming practices.
Labels displaying the new classifications are being added throughout the chain’s 400-plus locations in both countries, “with the goal of helping consumers make informed decisions regarding their food,” Whole Foods said in a statement.
According to the classification system, a “Best” rating indicates “exceptional, industry-leading performance in a scoring system covering 16 farming practices to protect air, soil, water and human health, GMO transparency, pest management, farmworker welfare, water conservation and protection, soil health and waste reduction.
“We are proud of this recognition. Our customers now will know more about the university’s efforts in sustainable banana production. Our sustainable practices and social responsibility differentiate us from the rest of the market as we produce bananas in harmony with the environment. And, all of our produce is carbon-neutral,” said Roger Ruiz, the university’s commercial banana operations manager.
All income earned from EARTH bananas is used to fund scholarships for students, mostly from rural areas, the university states on its website.
Approximately 400 students from over 30 countries currently study at EARTH, and 60 percent of those receive a full scholarship. Remaining students receive some type of financial aid.