SUSTAINABLE FOOD PRODUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES: A MODEL FOR PROCESSED VEGETABLES
This initiative began in 1996 as a single-crop, single-state program to pursue more effective ways to grow fresh potatoes in Wisconsin using a partnership of growers, environmental groups, and university research. In the first decade growers introduced a new label (Healthy Grown) and increased adoption of sustainable practices by 52% while reducing the toxicity of pesticide inputs by 30%, without sacrificing yield, quality or profitability. This success was tempered, however, by disappointing economic gains and in 2010 the initiative was expanded in cooperation with Del Monte Foods to include processed vegetables and increase market potential. This multi-crop, regional approach was achieved through development of a whole-farm standard which addressed sustainability issues that were applicable across the whole cropping system, in conjunction with individual crop modules for each specific crop grown in the farm rotation. In addition to the whole-farm standard, crop modules for fresh potatoes and processed green beans, carrots and potatoes entered pilot testing in 2011. Modules for sweet corn, peas, soybean and field corn will enter testing in 2012. This model is now being expanded to a national framework that seeks to develop sustainability protocols that are regionally and nationally appropriate and yet can drive change at the farm level. This will be accomplished through a series of coordinated regional and local work groups that can bring together networks of expertise from all sectors of the value chain to assess sustainability status and goals for specific crops or cropping systems. National standards will be derived by harmonization of regional differences and incorporation of existing national metrics and will retain the capacity of drive change at the farm level. All phases of this initiative have been underscored by the same basic principals, that programs be grower-driven, science-based, verifiable, and can demonstrate continuing improvement in environmental, economic and social tenets of sustainability.
Flood, B.R., Balling, S.S., Bussan, A.J., Knuteson, D., George Jr., N.C. and Wyman, J.A. (2012). SUSTAINABLE FOOD PRODUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES: A MODEL FOR PROCESSED VEGETABLES. Acta Hortic. 960, 23-29
vegetables, sustainable production, green beans, potatoes, sweet corn, carrots