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Grapes With Integrity

By Chris Ford, March 3, 2009  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Chris Ford
GrapesHere at Whole Foods Market, we are always driven by our Core Values, and that includes selling the highest quality products available, satisfying and delighting our customers and caring about our communities and environment. With those values in mind, Chuck Anunciation, one of our Produce Field Inspectors, and I recently visited Chile where we met our new Rainforest Alliance certified table grape growers and inspected their crop.  Grown in the San Felipe and Rancagua regions of Chile, we have partnered with the growers Exser, Gioia and Aldunate to feature the sweetest, most flavorful grapes available while ensuring their farms protect soils, waterways, wildlife habitat and the rights and welfare of workers, their families and communities. What a strong connection with our Core Values. Grapes Exser Thompson ranch - Chile Because Chile is in the Southern Hemisphere, their fruit ripens during our winter making them a natural partner allowing us to offer high quality fruit year round. Chances are if you have been enjoying grapes, peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots and blueberries this winter, they were grown in Chile. The growers and their farming practices in Chile are very sophisticated and we work hard to seek out top quality producers and feature products that are truly unique and different. Chuck and Chris inspecting newly harvested red seedless grapes Chuck and Chris inspecting newly harvested red seedless grapes The opportunity to visit our growers in person is invaluable to building a long lasting partnership. We are able to understand the challenges our growers face in regards to their specific climates and growing regions and the growers appreciate meeting us and are extremely proud to have their fruit featured in Whole Foods Market. Fernando DeBasa from Aldunate, a producer of our Rainforest Alliance certified grapes lives and works in the Coltauco Valley under the shadow of the Poqui Mountains. Fernanado's grapes are special because of the people who grow them; some have been working with grapes for 40 years, passing their traditions and growing secrets along to successive generations. Guerino Gioia, an Italian immigrant, came to Chile via Argentina in 1930 and is said to have developed the first Chilean table grape destined for export; the Gioia family are proud producers of our Rainforest Alliance certified grapes. Andres Ureta of Exser is focused on efficient and earth-friendly farming practices for water and soil preservation and are devoted to farming Rainforest Alliance certified grapes in some of Chile's most challenging conditions- mountain slopes and valleys. Thompson Seedless on the vine Thompson Seedless on the vine The varieties of grapes for our Rainforest Alliance certified program were chosen for big fruit size and sweet flavor. Our green grapes are primarily a Thompson seedless variety - an elongated grape that is plump and juicy. Thompson Seedless grapes have a yellow cast or straw color with a touch of amber when they are at their peak flavor. Red grapes Red grapes Our red seedless grapes are a combination of Flame and Queen Red varieties which are both round grapes that are hard and crunchy and very sweet. Red grapes are best when fully colored and always picked ripe as they do not ripen further once off the vine. Black seedless grapes Black seedless grapes The black seedless grapes are primarily the Autumn Royal variety which is also very crisp and sweet, oval shaped and the purple-black skin has a whitish cast or bloom while the interior is an attractive, translucent yellow-green. We will be featuring these delicious Rainforest Alliance certified table grapes through March. Chuck under the canopy Chuck under the canopy
Category: Field Reports




Nick says ...
Wow - great blog! I am going to enjoy some of those Rainforest Alliance certified grapes today :)
03/04/2009 1:18:56 PM CST
Ty says ...
Are the Rainforest Alliance certified grapes grown organically without pesticides?
03/04/2009 7:19:55 PM CST
christensenk says ...
@Ty Our Rainforest Alliance certified grapes are conventionally grown in Chile. However, Rainforest Alliance certification does include detailed guidelines for environmental stewardship, protection and conservation. Some examples of what the standard incorporates are: soil management & conservation, ecosystem & water conservation, & wildlife protection. The use of agrochemicals is strictly regulated (with many dangerous pesticides prohibited). The links below take you to the specific criteria about environmental sustainability. http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/agriculture.cfm?id=main & http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/agriculture.cfm?id=standards While this fruit isn’t organically grown it is being produced by growers who respect the land and care about their impact on the environment.
03/05/2009 5:11:31 PM CST
Jim says ...
The red seedless grapes are great
03/12/2009 3:49:59 PM CDT
florence keenan says ...
I'm concerned about pesticides used on table grapes, in particular DDT and other banned pesticides. How do you ensure your chilean grapes are not produced using DDT?
04/01/2009 3:54:54 PM CDT
Elaine says ...
Very nice post, Chris! Those grapevines are beautiful. Hope you're doing well. Elaine (your old friend in Boulder)
05/15/2009 5:23:42 PM CDT
bee says ...
I'm sorry to see that Whole Foods seems to have committed entirely to the Rainforest Alliance conventionally-grown grape. Although I was glad to read about the steps taken towards environmental responsibility during farming, it means that WF no longer carries organic grapes, and therefore my family can no longer eat them. Surely WF could find one organic vineyard that they could do business with? I have no problems finding organic raisins at WF.
06/01/2010 12:25:51 PM CDT
paig292 says ...
@Bee We absolutely still carry organic grapes! Certified organic grapes are usually available from Mexico beginning in May. The domestic crop follows shortly after and can extend through Thanksgiving. We don’t have access to organic fruit in winter except for from South Africa, which has proven to be prohibitive on both the cost and the quality fronts. Our Rainforest Alliance certified grapes from Chile are usually available February - March. These are conventionally grown; however, Rainforest Alliance certification includes detailed guidelines for environmental stewardship, protection and conservation. The use of agrochemicals is strictly regulated (with many dangerous pesticides prohibited). While this fruit isn’t organically grown it is being produced by growers who respect the land and care about their impact on the environment. Details specific to Chilean grapes & organic: · Grapes ripen quickly and attract pests. Unless grapes are certified organic, synthetic pesticides and fungicides are commonly used in production. · The USDA requires that all grapes from Chile be fumigated with methyl bromide upon entry into the USA in order to eliminate the grape mite, a serious agricultural pest. · A result of the USDA requirement to fumigate grapes upon entry into the USA is that certified organic grapes from Chile are not available in the USA. · Imported conventional grapes must meet USDA standards to be marketed within the United States. Detectable residues are not permitted in the United States if that product is not registered for use in the United States. · The USDA is currently testing an alternative protocol for organic grapes to allow entry without fumigation. This protocol includes pre-inspection of vineyards to certify that they are free of spider mite. Hope you find this helpful!
06/02/2010 10:00:33 AM CDT
Katy says ...
once awhile, we get some white & round juice sweet grapes (made in chile) from wholefoods. it's the best grapes in the world! but we don't know the name of it?
04/05/2011 5:28:41 PM CDT
bepkom says ...
@Katy: Thanks for your question. Our product selection varies from store to store so please check in with the folks at the location where you've bought the grapes.
04/06/2011 1:44:04 PM CDT
David says ...
Yeah! Enjoy them. How the hell do you wash that sulphur that they are sprayed with??? Because water doesn`t work. And I don`t really feel like scrubbing one by one... any help whole foods??
05/13/2011 4:46:20 PM CDT
David Meyers says ...
Your discussion on "Rainforest Alliance certified grapes" in Chile doesn't mention the use of pesticides. My understanding is that highly toxic pesticides such as DDT are still in use in Chile in the production of grapes and blueberries. Although DDT use in agriculture has been banned in the USA since 1972, the Chilean government 40 years later has not been able to effectively control it's use throughout this industry in Chile. Without a strict government prohibition on DDT use in Chile, it seems very risky for Whole Foods to continue importing produce from that country considering Whole Food's claim to being a high quality food retailer.
01/27/2012 6:29:52 PM CST
janejohnson says ...
@David I reached out to the experts for a response to your question and here's what they said... "Our WTG certifiers ensure that very specific environmental standards are met…I think you all have the links to their full standards. Specific to the questions below, here is a link to the Rainforest Alliance / Sustainable Agriculture Network’s list of prohibited pesticides: http://sanstandards.org/userfiles/file/SAN%20Prohibited%20Pesticide%20List%20November%202011.pdf"
01/30/2012 10:20:53 AM CST
ariane st claire says ...
For David, about washing grapes. What I do with the red grapes, like the ones I just got at Whole Foods, is put them in warm water with earth friendly dishsoap, and just let them sit overnight. I swish them around a few times, and rinse them with cold water. I have washed all of my produce like this for years, and am one of the healthiest people you will ever meet...and no, my grapes don't taste like soap. I feel it's really important to use the best organic soap you can find.
05/09/2013 5:32:10 PM CDT
Carlyle Poteat says ...
I want to know if they are GMO grapes. I didn't actually have that question answered here, I don't think. Thank you!
05/28/2013 6:48:15 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@CARLYLE - I can't speak specifically to the grapes featured in this post, but if you are looking to avoid GMOs, look for organically grown grapes as USDA regulations prohibit the use of GMOs.
05/31/2013 12:40:26 PM CDT
Menuka Shrestha says ...
Very good article.
06/11/2013 12:17:09 PM CDT
Jason says ...
Is there any chance Whole Foods will carry sable grapes this year? I'm in Houston, TX. I had the pleasure to try them once and hands down best grapes I have ever eaten.
08/06/2013 12:31:15 AM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@JASON - Reach out to your local store and the Produce department will be able to let you know if this is something they normally are able to order!
08/06/2013 11:21:40 AM CDT
Larry Dane Brimner says ...
I have interest in using the image of Thompson grapes on the vines in a children's book. Can you tell me about purchasing rights and permissions?
08/07/2013 3:08:30 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@LARRY - You can find info/contacts for publishing our images at http://media.wholefoodsmarket.com/faq/.
08/07/2013 4:13:21 PM CDT
Simo says ...
First, I want to be clear that I am a GRAPE fanatic. I prefer organic whenever possible and that they TASTE good, which is just not realistically possible to always be available considering that they are quite seasonal. If not for importation from other countries and accepting that its a food you have no choice but to lower your "ORGANIC-ONLY" standard...period, or go without. Of course that is arguable depending on each consumers quality standards. I will add a link (at the end of this comment) provided by the "Sustainable Agriculture Network" that has a list of "Permitted Pesticides". Which ones used is dependent on many factors as you can find if you're willing to read the entire document. It makes sense to note that this document also shows the attention they pay to ensuring the workers protection from the potential harm these pesticides can cause if steps to protect workers are overlooked. Considering the "totality of the circumstances" under which these grapes are grown and harvested, I found the requirements not only satisfactory but exceeding my expectations for an "imported", "non-organic", food. They are certainly far better than what is available to me otherwise in my semi-rural area. The following link breaks off in the middle for some reason when I copy & paste to this comment box, but it tested good. Just cut & paste from "http" to "pdf". Scroll to the end (pages 48 & 49) for list. Here's the link; http://sanstandards.org/userfiles/SAN-S-1-1%20SAN%20Sustainable%20Agriculture%20Standard%20July%202010%20v2.pdf I found scanning and then reading what stood out to me besides the list to be very informative. Happy Grape Eating and Thanks to Whole Foods for providing a good alternative product to either the less attractive out of season organics, or no grapes at all. I believe these are good grapes and good for you. I just wash (spray - set for 5 min - rinse) them in 50/50 water and white vinegar, which at the very least is natural and to my knowledge a harmless antiseptic cleaner. Just Pluck, Clean and Eat. I hope this will help other grape lovers with rigid standards regarding where all their food comes from make an exception to their rigid standards, or at least make an informed decision to SUFFER without them....MORE FOR ME!!!
02/11/2014 10:03:40 AM CST
ross rossi says ...
Chilean grapes are supposed to be one of the highest in pesticides. They have few regulations.
03/28/2014 2:33:01 PM CDT
sue says ...
Question... are the organic grapes from Mexico fumigated on their way in to the U.S.? When I see signs on produce: Organically Grown, I always wonder if they were grown organically, but then fumigated upon coming into the U.S. If this happens, are the produce still posted organic? Or "responsibly grown"?
04/01/2015 5:27:34 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@SUE - The USDA requires that all products sold as organic in the United States be certified to the US National Organic Standards regardless of where they are grown or processed. This means that an operation growing or producing organic products for export to the United States must be monitored and inspected by a USDA-accredited certifying agent and is subject to the same monitoring as an organic producer in the US, regardless of where the product is grown.
07/23/2015 4:25:51 PM CDT