Red Tomato, a nonprofit marketer of fresh produce for a network of Northeast family farms, has been named a Whole Foods Market Supplier of the Year. The organization received the Global V.P. Integrity Award, as part of the retailer’s annual commitment to recognize and celebrate the company’s partners who best embody its mission and core values. Red Tomato was chosen from thousands of suppliers, joining fewer than 100 that have been recognized to date.
For seventeen years, our growers have provided local strawberries, blueberries, peaches, apples and mixed vegetables to Whole Foods. Our relationships with their buyers and retail staff especially in the North Atlantic region are long-lived. When we need an ear or need to solve a problem, we can reach a responsive person who actually cares. The leadership at Whole Foods genuinely works at seeing things from the farmer’s perspective. We value their partnership, and we’re honored by this recognition, said Red Tomato Founder and Evangelist, Michael Rozyne.
In presenting the award, Matt Rogers, Whole Foods Senior Global Produce Coordinator, credited the small organization with continuing to develop strategies that reduce pesticide application in tree fruit in New England orchards, and for always being at the table to elevate the voice of the grower “This is a partnership in the truest sense of the word.” Gideon Burdick and Maria Mastanduno accepted the award on behalf of Red Tomato.
Red Tomato, founded in 1997, is a team of nine individuals, helping lead the way to a more ethical and sustainable food system. Committed to building trustworthy relationships and delivering fresh, local, ecologically grown produce to consumers where they shop and eat, every day, Red Tomato first partnered with Whole Foods Market in 1999 and continues to supply New England stores with berries and Eco Apple and Eco Peach certified fruit. Eco is a third party certification that supports and rewards farmers for ecological growing methods in the northeast. The program creates a dynamic partnership between farmers and scientific advisors to advance the most progressive and environmentally responsible growing practices and address specific farming challenges in the region, season by season, crop by crop, orchard by orchard.
Red Tomato has worked with Whole Foods since the inception of their Responsibly Grown Produce and Floral Rating system to help their growers complete the rating process for a wide range of growing practices. Dzen Farms, whose Connecticut berries are distributed through Red Tomato, was the first grower in the Whole Foods system to receive a ‘Best’ Rating when the program was launched in 2014. Red Tomato continues to work with the global purchasing team to further develop the program, and appreciates Whole Foods commitment to growers of all sizes.