By Heather Callaghan
In December 2012, whistleblower Mario Ciasulli, a semi-retired electrical engineer in North Carolina, put pressure on Whole Foods to come clean about a fertilizer method among their conventional produce suppliers.
That is, using sewage sludge, the "pink slime" of large produce farming. No joke - actual sewage. Whole Foods' conventional produce is grown on soil layered with human waste as a fertilizer.
The stuff that's flushed down sinks, drains and toilets? The water is removed from the resulting sludge, heated and sprayed. Yes, this includes pharmaceutical residues, chemicals, heavy metals, BPA, phthalates, resistant pathogens, PFCs, industrial solvents, flame retardants and other things that heat is insufficient to treat. Guess what else? There is a ton of evidence that these things "bioaccumulate" in the plants and organisms that eat them. It is doubtful that this practice is good for pollinators.
The company escaped scrutiny for a long time by referring to the waste as "bio-solids." Here is the origin of that little PR spin.