Follow the Green Frog to Discover the Rainforest Alliance

Q. What does Rainforest Alliance mean on food labels?

A. People are interested in treading a little more lightly on Mother Earth, and your food choices are a powerful way to do so. Choosing products labeled with the Rainforest Alliance Certification seal is one way to positively impact the environment. The Rainforest Alliance is a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to conserving biodiversity and ensuring sustainable livelihoods by transforming land practices, business practices and consumer behavior. Though the Rainforest Alliance initially focused on rainforests, it has since expanded to include countries all over the world.

The seal depicting the little green frog shows you that your purchase adheres to strict standards and guidelines that meet Rainforest Alliance Certification. To bear the seal, foods must contain products from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, which are evaluated for compliance with 10 standards (scoring at least 50 percent in each standard with an 80 percent overall score) set in place by the Sustainable Agriculture Network. These include:

  • Reduce water pollution by controlling sources of contamination.

  • Limit soil erosion by implementing soil conservation practices.

  • Lower threats to the environment and human health by prohibiting most dangerous pesticides and chemicals.

  • Protect wildlife habitat by preserving ecosystems.

  • Reduce waste through composting farm by-products such as coffee pulp, and recycling materials.

  • Lower water used through conservation measures.

  • Manage efficient farming techniques.

  • Improve conditions for farm workers, such as fair wages, decent housing, clean drinking water and health care.

  • Increase profitability for farmers with higher quality products and increased worker efficiency.

  • Boost collaboration between farmers and conservationists to preserve biodiversity of land.

One criticism is that a brand can wear the seal even if just 30 percent of the product comes from a Rainforest Alliance Certified farm, raising the question of where the other 70 percent comes from. Yet, even that small amount from a multinational brand can make a huge impact on the land and those working it. That impact affects up to more than 70 countries around the world who are working to change the way crops are produced. More social and environmental responsibility is not only good for the environment, it’s good for business: it makes farming more competitive by producing higher quality goods that earn a higher profit. It also means that you, as a consumer, can vote with your dollars to support environmental conservation by choosing such products. If you seek out the seal on products you already buy like coffee, cocoa, chocolate, tea, nuts and fruits, you are joining the effort to ensure that resources we rely on today will be here in the future.

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