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February 16, 2010

You Shouldn't Have to Pay More for Eco-Friendly Produce

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You Shouldn’t Have to Pay More for Eco-Friendly Produce  

February 16, 2010: The eco-friendly Healthy Grown® Wisconsin potato label announces its quality potatoes will, effective immediately, be priced at the same current market prices of other Wisconsin potatoes. “The recession, increasing rates of childhood obesity, REAP Farm to School initiatives — there are plenty of reasons to offer eco-friendly Healthy Grown Wisconsin potatoes at the same current market price as other potatoes,” notes Tim Feit, Director of Promotions and Consumer Education for the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA). “Across the nation, families are struggling to put healthy meals on their tables. Organizations are battling childhood obesity by promoting healthier meal options, or trying to improve school lunch menus with local produce. And the Healthy Grown® growers want to be a part of these initiatives. We feel people should have access to affordable eco-friendly food and have decided to offer Healthy Grown eco-friendly potatoes at the same current market price as other Wisconsin potatoes.”

The Healthy Grown® potato eco-label grew out of the Wisconsin Eco-Potato partnership between the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA), the World Wildlife Fund and the University of Wisconsin. The International Crane Foundation and the Defenders of Wildlife are also part of the partnership. Since 1996, the science-based team has helped potato growers reduce the use of crop protection inputs such as nutrients, pesticides and other additives, by adopting integrated pest management (IPM) alternatives — biologically based pest management systems that do not harm the environment. The partnership also works to reduce contamination of water, conserve and restore biodiversity to natural ecosystems, and increase productivity without genetic modification of the produce.

All Healthy Grown growers, packers and shippers are certified and audited annually by Protected Harvest — an independent oversight organization that ensures strict adherence to sustainable agriculture standards. Healthy Grown has compiled an eight-year database tracing IPM and pesticide use. With over 350 eco-label products on the market, consumers and businesses are growing more wary of “greenwashing” — exaggerated or misleading claims about eco-friendliness — according to the World Resources Institute (WRI). Healthy Grown’s database ensures eco-label transparency.

“We’ve worked hard over the last 13 years to put sustainable whole-farm processes into place on the Healthy Grown farms — and to do so in a manner that provides livable incomes for growers and their employees,” explains Deana Knuteson, BioIPM Field Coordinator for the Wisconsin Eco-Potato partnership. “We’ve faced plenty of challenges — but our data illustrate that it’s economically feasible to grow in a sustainable manner. And we can pass that cost savings on to the consumer.”

About Healthy Grown®

The Healthy Grown® eco-label, established in 2001, is a product of the Wisconsin Eco-Potato partnership between the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The International Crane Foundation, World Wildlife Fund and the Defenders of Wildlife are also part of the partnership. The Healthy Grown standard is designed to help growers reduce contamination of water, conserve natural ecosystems, increase biodiversity and improve productivity through researched-based sustainable and IPM processes. Healthy Grown sustainable farming practices are overseen by Protected Harvest, an independent oversight organization. www.wisconsinpotatoes.com/HealthyGrown/index.html.