A Message from the Equitable Food Initiative :
The Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) establishes measures for working conditions, pest management and food safety. When a farm has achieved the certification for the EFI Standard, it means it has met rigorous standards for these three areas; it also means it can use the EFI “trustmark” on their produce to signal to consumers that it has been certified. When consumers see the trustmark, they can be assured of the highest standards on the farm.
This week, EFI is unveiling the trustmark that will appear on certified produce. While the label is important, it’s also unique: it’s the result of a collaboration between the organizations behind EFI and the consumer audience. EFI surveyed people on a variety of platforms to get their feedback on proposed trustmarks, and offered various alternatives until one label gathered a full majority and approval.
In the end, the label emphasizes the words: Responsibly Grown. Farmworker Assured. “What we especially like about the tagline is that it captures how many people are engaged in making food safe and workplaces decent. Growers, farmworkers, retailers, and consumers all play a role,” said Peter O’Driscoll, EFI project director. “EFI has been a multi-stakeholder effort from the start, operating with the belief that it takes all of us working together to build a better food system.”
Other versions of the label pictured female and male farmworkers, in some versions embracing (or taking care) of produce. Consumers reacted with reluctance about trying to illustrate one worker as representing all workers (gender, ethnicity, age). In the end, they voted most strongly for the simple version of the words.
EFI has piloted the program on several farms, training farmworkers and teams on maintaining the Standard. Earlier this year, the organization completed the first audits and certifications. The consumer-facing trustmark should appear on produce in stores within a few months; as the systems are tested and verified, the number of participating farms will increase.
“We hope this new label will enable consumers to find ‘equitable food’ in their retail outlets, and to use their purchasing power to encourage growers and retailers to join the effort to make our food system safer and fairer for all of us,” said O’Driscoll.