This is what your grocery store looks like without bees.

Whole Foods MarketThe Providence Whole Foods Market at University Heights participated in a remarkable project to visually illustrate the effects bee colony collapse disorder could have on our food system. I was invited to document the project and it was amazing to see in person. The following is Whole Foods Market’s national release of “This is what your grocery store looks like without bees.

Whole Foods Market® partners with The Xerces Society to protect pollinator populations

PROVIDENCE, RI (June 12, 2013) – One of every three bites of food comes from plants pollinated by honeybees and other pollinators, and pollinator populations are facing massive declines. At Whole Foods Market in University Heights, Rhode Island, some customers recently found out just how this may affect their lives.

To raise awareness of just how crucial pollinators are to our food system, the University Heights Whole Foods Market store removed all produce that comes from plants dependent on honeybees and other pollinators.

The before-and-after photo (below) is shocking – as are the statistics. Whole Foods Market’s produce team pulled from shelves 237 of 453 products – 52 percent of the normal product mix in the department. Among the removed products were some of the most popular produce items:

  • Apples
  • Onions
  • Avocados
  • Carrots
  • Mangos
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Honeydew
  • Cantaloupe
  • Zucchini
  • Summer squash
  • Eggplant
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Green onions
  • Cauliflower
  • Leeks
  • Bok choy
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Broccoli rabe
  • Mustard greens

That’s the bad news. The good news is: it’s not too late. To help support honeybee populations, Whole Foods Market today launches a partnership with The Xerces Society. For every pound of organic summer squash sold at Whole Foods Market stores from June 12-25, the company will donate 10 cents to The Xerces Society for pollinator preservation.

Whole Foods Market bees

“We don’t always notice it when walking down a grocery aisle, but pollinators are a critical link in our food system. More than 85% of the plant species on earth require bees and other pollinators to exist, and these plants include some of the most nutritious parts of our diet. Despite their importance, we continue to see alarming declines in bee numbers,” said Eric Mader, Assistant Pollinator Conservation Director at The Xerces Society. “On a positive note however, with the support of Whole Foods Market and their vendors, our organization is working with farmers nationwide to help them create wildflower habitat on field edges and to adopt less pesticide-intensive practices. Even on a small scale, these simple strategies can tip the balance back in favor of our bees.”

Whole Foods Market presents customers with four more ways to “bee part of the solution.”

For more information, visit www.wholefoodsmarket.com/sharethebuzz.

View a video slideshow of more photographs from the Whole Foods University Heights bee project:

Disclosure: Dadekian was a paid photographer for Whole Foods Market.

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