But Whole Foods requires more. Sometimes Phinney tells a farmer where he can get new labels printed that use all-natural ink (a Whole Foods requirement for any in-store product). Or she may explain why he might need to switch to another processing plant or slaughterhouse to get his product accepted by Whole Foods.
Ralph Caldwell, 64, a cattle and dairy farmer in Turner, Maine, struggles through a standardized form that Whole Foods requires. "I wouldn't be spending the day at the dining room table filling out 39 pages of forms if I didn't want to do business with Whole Foods," he says in his thick Down East accent. "They want to know every detail - how I feed my cows, how I bed them, graze them, clean them. It takes a lot of my time. But it's okay. I'm glad to know that they are 100 percent on the same wavelength as me about being ecologically sensitive to cows."