The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Whole Foods Commits $25 Million to Local Producer Loan Program
Whole Foods Market is loaning millions to ensure that even more products from local growers, producers and artisans make it to the shelves of their 370-plus stores around the globe.
The retailer has announced a $25 million boost to its popular Local Producer Loan Program. Since the program's 2007 inception, Whole Foods has aided 155 local producers with $10 million through nearly 200 low-interest loans.
The large retailer says the expansion was encouraged by the success of those original recipients.
“Expanding the Local Producer Loan Program is a direct result of the innovations and successes of our loan recipients,” said Betsy Foster, Whole Foods Market global vice president of growth and business development. “By playing a role in advancing new ideas, growing businesses and realizing dreams, Whole Foods Market stays connected with both our neighborhood producers and our global food community.”
Companies who have expanded with the Whole Foods loan range from Progress Coffee in Austin, TX, to RubyJewel, a Portland, OR-based, hand-crafted ice creamery, to an organic nutrition bar line from Dr. Melina Jampolis in San Francisco, CA. Farms like Thistle Farms got in on the act, and many of the recipients like kale-chip maker Brad's Raw Foods in Bucks County, PA were able to rise from small-town farmers markets to the shelves of Whole Foods locations in bigger cities.
"Because I didn’t have any money, [Whole Foods] lent me money to build a bigger place and buy some equipment," Brad's Raw Foods owner Brad Gruno said.
"They help out a lot of small entrepreneurs. Seriously. Nobody else does that."
Whole Foods said its initial $10 million in funding also supported pioneering projects in biodynamic farming, non-GMO animal feed, pollinator health and sustainable packaging. The company didn't wait long to add the $25 million—it recently announced that a $400,000 loan to San Francisco's WholeSoy & Co. pushed it past the $10 million level. WholeSoy produces non-GMO, organic, vegan, gluten-free soy yogurt.
"After raising most of the funds required, this additional $400,000 will help us realize our dream of having our own dairy-free yogurt facility,” said Ted Nordquist, CEO of WholeSoy & Co.
“Whole Foods Market truly cares about our success and worked closely with us to support our re-entry into the marketplace."
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jessica A. Knoblauch
It's been a particularly terrible summer for bees. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is allowing the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor back on the market. And just a few weeks prior, the USDA announced it is suspending data collection for its annual honeybee survey, which tracks honeybee populations across the U.S., providing critical information to farmers and scientists.
tommaso79 / iStock / Getty Images Plus
By Rachel Licker
As a new mom, I've had to think about heat safety in many new ways since pregnant women and young children are among the most vulnerable to extreme heat.
John Paul Stevens, the retired Supreme Court Justice who wrote the opinion granting environmental agencies the power to regulate greenhouse gases, died Tuesday at the age of 99. His decision gave the U.S. government important legal tools for fighting the climate crisis.
By Elliott Negin
On July 8, President Trump hosted a White House event to unabashedly tout his truly abysmal environmental record. The following day, coincidentally, marked the one-year anniversary of Andrew Wheeler at the helm of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), first as acting administrator and then as administrator after the Senate confirmed him in late February.
By Tara Lohan
If you're a lover of wilderness, wildlife, the American West and the public lands on which they all depend, then journalist Christopher Ketcham's new book is required — if depressing — reading.