Chuck Robinson, Assistant Copy ChiefWhole Foods stirred some sludge in late 2013 when it announced it would no longer accept fresh produce grown on soil amended with biosolids, or human feces, from municipal sewage plants.
Marketing makes us do and say odd things, I suppose. For the planet, it seems using biosolids (human excrement and other materials flushed from household drainpipes) to fertilize fields is an artful solution to a large problem.
The announcement didn’t cost Whole Foods anything, since none of the company’s growers use biosolids on their fields.
Well, no one does. Biosolids in the U.S. are applied not to produce but to animal feed crops and landscapes.
However, Whole Foods seems to have been able to ensure the loyalty of its clientele by rousing its subconscious fears of defecation and toilet flushing.
It is pretty easy to invoke the ick factor. Certainly some activists are consciously and loudly beating the drum for Whole Foods, thanking them for taking such a bold move.
Whole Foods, your hometown, Austin, Texas, has capacity to process 150 million gallons of wastewater per day.
That is diddly-squat compared to New York City, which reports that its wastewater treatment plants process 1.4 billion gallons of wastewater daily.
Critics worry about prescription drugs from people and dangerous other substances that get flushed by people and companies. They express suspicion about government bureaucrats that have been bought off by corporations.
The data the government produces showing dangerous stuff going down our drains is infinitessimal as a percentage is considered hogwash and not to be trusted.
The funny thing about “hogwash,” by the way, is that while human excrement can’t be processed to kill pathogens and spread on fields growing organic produce for Whole Foods, pig poop can be piled high and deep.
Manure’s organic, if it comes from pigs or cattle or chickens.
NPR addressed the issue in mid-January in a piece titled “Whole Foods Bans Produce Grown with Sludge. But Who Wins?” The transcript is worth a read.
The Center for Media and Democracy claims to have pushed Whole Foods to make the announcement, which the center calls a victory for consumers.