Backyard Farms has announced that Whole Foods Market has designated Backyard Farms tomatoes with a “Best” rating as part of the natural and organic foods retailer’s Responsibly Grown program. This is the highest ranking that the grocer assigns to produce available for purchase in its stores.

The Whole Foods Market Responsibly Grown program was developed to reward farmers who work hard to protect human health and the environment, prohibit the use of the most harmful chemicals while measuring and reducing others, and provide consumers with an at-a-glance rating for sustainable farming practices. The program is in direct response to issues facing the agricultural industry including the widespread use of pesticides, the accessibility of fresh water, the loss of farmable land due to erosion and other degradation, greenhouse gas emissions and the decline of bee and butterfly pollinator populations.

“We are thrilled to receive a ‘Best’ rating from Whole Foods Market,” said Stuart Jablon, president and COO of Backyard Farms. “We share many of the same corporate values, of which several are recognized with this rating, and Whole Foods Market is an outstanding partner to work with both in general and as part of this rating process. It is a strong statement that a grower of our size was able to work with Whole Foods Market in a meaningful and thoughtful manner. Whole Foods Market set very high standards as part of this program and we appreciate that they were able to recognize and understand all of the hard work our employees put in to make these standards a reality for Backyard Farms customers.”

Backyard Farms earned the highest rating of “Best” by meeting or exceeding several criteria including 16 farming practices to protect air, soil, water and human health; no use of Whole Foods Market prohibited pesticides; water and energy conservation; advanced soil health; protection of rivers, lakes and oceans; farmworker health and safety; protection of bees and butterflies; and industry leadership on pest management and environmental protection. The designation follows Whole Foods Market recently having named Backyard Farms its North Atlantic Region Produce Supplier of the Year.

Responsibly Grown ratings include “Good,” “Better” and “Best.” Backyard Farms was selected to participate in the Responsibly Grown pilot program last year and was one of the first growers to receive the “Best” rating nationally. Backyard Farms tomato varieties include Tomatoes on the Vine, Cocktail Tomatoes, Beefsteaks and its newest offering, Somerset Pinks.

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