After digging deeper into Fresh Leaf Farms’ origin, I’ve learned at its essence it’s just the great grandchild of a multinational company that is struggling to create products that can meet consumer’s evolving needs for ethically sourced produce. Besides informing consumers about being GMO free, it offers no other substantial information about their water, fertilizer, and land consumption for lettuce production. Their parent company, Del Monte, provides a corporate sustainability report but their attempt of a one-size fits all report for such a diverse product portfolio limits the credibility of it. It was exciting reading about the industrial waste water recycling system they’ve incorporated, but it failed to paint a bigger picture about the level of impact that it has. Additionally, compared to other lettuce alternatives, its packaging is lagging behind. The produce label nor the website provide consumers insight on how to properly dispose of the packaging once one is finished using it. For these reasons, their product would serve as the perfect poster child for greenwashed items because it is designed in a linear, mission-less fashion. Overall, there is nothing unique about this product, so I refuse to encourage consumers to support such an ambiguous product.
Fresh Leaf Farm’s Better Crunch Lettuce is derived from a type of lettuce called Butter Crunch. It is a non-GMO lettuce that has the crispness of Iceberg lettuce and nutritional value of Cos lettuce. The lettuce comes packaged in an ambiguous plastic container that doesn’t specify its origin.
Fresh Leaf Farm’s Better Crunch Lettuce is derived from non GMO seeds that are planted in various regions of the Western Coast of the United States. Depending on the season, their lettuce will either be grown in the Salinas Valley, CA, Yuma, AZ, or Baja, CA. Once grown, the harvesting, packaging, and shipping process is all managed and controlled by them directly. Having this level of control, they have set different initiatives in place to do this in a waste-less manner. For example, the wash water used during cultivation is reclaimed by industrial waste systems for use on golf courses and city landscaping. Additionally, one of their lettuce farms located in Gonzales, California has been retrofitted with a 260-foot tall wind turbine to help offset their energy usage. Their website also mentions they are actively tracking their waste streams, but offers no further details. No details are offered about the origin of their packaging, nor tips on how to properly dispose of it.
Fresh Leaf Farm’s has a storyline that is becoming more ubiquitous to hear as farms continue to consolidate and merge to form mega farms. Their story is fascinating because Fresh Lead Farm’s is just a rebranded label from Mann’s Farms who is privately owned by Del Monte. Before Mann’s Farms was bought out by Del Monte, it was family owned by a family that had also bought out and formed local partnerships with neighboring farms. Looking up the product initially, it was a bit confusing because of all the different portals the website takes you through. After looking through news reporting done on their company, I figured out that Fresh Leaf Farms is a rebranding ploy from Del Monte to cater to growing consumer demand for fresh, natural produced foods that aren’t produced by traditional farm industrial complexes like theirs. The amount of digging a consumer has to do for this type of information is disappointing, because producers shouldn’t have their information set up like a labyrinth.