Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Supermarket Score Cards for Seafood


Greenpeace's latest newsletter has an exhaustive and fascinating breakdown of how supermarkets are doing when it comes to buying, labeling and supporting sustainably caught/raised seafood.

They have a score board list for each state, click on your state and a page listing from best to worst comes up, click on the name of the store and a PDF file downloads giving you more information then you can imagine on all aspects of the store and their relationship to seafood.

Hats off to Wegmans * who rank # 1. A family owned small chain they have stores in New York state, (but none in NYC) Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland.
I've only been to the Wegmans in Ithaca, years ago, but it left a lasting impression, as a great store that from a produce point of even , even back then, had an obvious commitment to supporting local farmers.

It's interesting that their lowest score was for labeling and promoting sustainable seafood, you'd think if they go to all teh bother to get it they let people know!

Whole Foods dropped to #3 in the ranking.

Most interesting of all was Trader Joes, who ranked #17, the worst of any national super market chain surveyed. To put that in context, worse then Walmart, Pathmart and Save a Lot.

In NYC Trader Joes is always a zoo as it acts as the defacto NYU dorm grocery store, I loath the aesthetic of the store and have always been skived out by how the entire produce section is individually wrapped in plastic.

Having just discovered how to make amazing cheap and easy tortilla chips at home I know longer buy the big bags of chips, but Costco sells a huge bag of organic chips that we love. On my first trip there (about a month ago) I was very excited to see they have Great Lakes caught smoked White Fish so it was slightly disappointing to see they also didn't do so well according to Greenpeace's chart, they ranked 9 with a losey 2 out of 10 points (the higher the number the better the score.)

The big take away message for me here is how well a lot of the bigger stores, some totally unknown to me did. Giant, Martins and Stop & Shop all beat out Whole Foods, all getting the same score creating a three way tie for second place (Martins and Stop & Shop share the same owner).

It's encouraging that supermarket chains are listening to the concerns of their customers and responding to it. It's exciting that large companies are changing the way they do business in order to help protect our oceans and their bounty.

And not a moment to soon.

Now if only a Wegmans would replace the Fine Fare across the street from my apartment!

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