The CEO of supermarket giant Whole Foods, Walter Robb, recently told the North American Agricultural Lenders Conference that U.S. consumers have changing views on farmers and farming as a profession, citing the newfound curiosity of shoppers to know where their food comes from and who is producing it.
In prepared remarks he gave on Monday, Robb said that farmers "are becoming heroes again." Robb noted that consumers want "to know who grew those vegetables" and "picked that fruit." Whole Foods has responded by implementing a series of cards that feature the farmers whose produce appears in its stores. Robb told the audience that there is a "tremendous renaissance in local farm production and local interest" for their foods.
To aid the farmers whose produce Whole Foods and other grocers rely so heavily upon, Whole Foods began making small loans to farmers just breaking into the industry – normally around $50,000 to $75,000. In total, Whole Foods has lent around $4 million.
The demand for fresh, local and organic produce has grown since its inception. As the country finds itself fighting an obesity epidemic, more and more people are turning towards healthy fruits and vegetables.