March 27

The Greening of Wal-Mart

5  comments

In an astounding move, low-price retail behemoth Wal-Mart, the devil/darling of every small community in America is doubling its position in the organic market, which will effectively bring reasonably priced organic foods and products to just about every dot on the map. In case you didn’t see the AP business article about it, give it a click .

If their stated intent becomes reality, the organic demand generated by Big “W” will force the hand of conventional purveyors to adopt organic farming methods; they’ll soon be elbowing one another out of the way as they clamber for a seat at Wal-Mart’s organic table. And this will change much for the better the way all of America eats, which will change America’s health landscape, which will be all to America’s good. Makes me proud to be a native Arkansan.

What’s next? Natural beef and poultry at McDonald’s? Why not? A girl can dream…


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  1. There is a shortage of organic milk at many small retailers (like Trader Joe’s and the local retailers), and they are blaming Wal Mart for sucking up all the organic milk. How about that! I like it.
    Like you say, it can only lead to more producers seeing the light and adopting organic farming methods. The downside is that the prices are higher now, but the upside is tremendous.

    : )

  2. I have to admit that I drive past the construction site of one of the latest WalMart supercenters–less than two miles from my home–with very mixed feelings. I shop for stuff for my closet, my home, my garden and my car at the smaller, ‘normal store’ sized-WalMart six miles away–but I shop for food at the amazing family-owned supermarket chain in the same shopping plaza (Wegmans, which was ‘Fortune’ magazine’s #1 company to work for in 2005 and their #2 company to work for in 2006.)

    Wegmans applies local sustainability principles to its produce stocking in all of its stores regardless of location. If the local organic strawberry crop is small, so is that produce offering, although the chain prides itself on its diversity of product, and will special order/stock nearly anything a customer requests. This support for local farmers and local economies in all of its stores throughout the northeast and mid-Atlantic states means much more to me than high-volume, lower-priced (and maybe less fresh) mass-produced organics.

    When I buy organic produce from Wegmans, I know it came from a guy who farms 15 miles away from my house, and it really, truly, IS fresh (the farm name is displayed right on the produce sign.) My purchase has a positive local effect. When I have cruised through a WalMart supercenter produce department, the first questions I asked about what I saw was ‘where did it come from? how long has it been sitting here?’

    I guess even my schedule doesn’t make me time-pressed enough to want one-stop shopping for everything from tires to bath towels to organically grown Roma tomatoes. While WalMart’s drive to green-ness and sustainability may also drive the market (to some extent), I wonder how small local organic purveyors will fare if they can’t produce the quantity WalMart needs but have to compete with the prices WalMart will charge for their large-scale farmed organic produce.

  3. It’s a real Field of Dreams story come to life: If you build it, they will come!

    Bigger organic demand is bound to lead to more organic farming. Better for cows, better for chickens, better for people, better for the Earth. Yep…a few more bucks now, but a glorious payoff later.

    I, too, worry about some of the small independents, but the very qualities one reader mentions–local farmers, freshest and most flavorful produce and the other qualitites that send me to our local farmers’ market on Saturday morning instead of the organic produce counters of Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or Lazy Acres–will keep faithful buyers who value freshness and locality more than dollars coming into these stores. No small independent can ever compete with a Wal-Mart on price, but they can (and must if they’re to survive and prosper) compete on service, on quality, and in niches that are too small for Wal-Mart to care.

    But everybody doesn’t have 5 farmers’ markets a week and 3 large purveyors of a cornucopia of organic produce/goods in their town. For the many people across the country for whom organic plenty either isn’t readily available year round or comes at a price too dear for their budget, the broader demand of organics can’t be anything but good.

  4. I don’t shop at Wal-Mart for different reasons that have more to do with labor issues, but I recognize that at some point I’ll have to make a compromise. Except for the farmer’s market of every Saturday, which happens only during the summer here, there is no real place where to get organic and fresh produce (and products). Where I lived before, I always had Whole Foods but here that’s an hour-plus driving. So, maybe a trip to Wal-Mart is what is in my future regarding getting organice products all year round.

    In any case, any event that provokes a change towards more natural (as in untainted and without the aid of pesticides, which by the way could also be ‘organic’, strictly speaking that is) and fresh, I’m all for it!

  5. My wife has history of high HDL (135 last test) and LDL is 149. Triglycerides 65. Dr. wants her on a statin, claims her total cholesterol is too high. I disagree, but she is unsure. Can someone help? Should she be on low carb diet to lower total? Does it matter?
    Thanks

    COMMENT from MD Eades: While we’re not able to comment directly on specific medical questions, you might find this piece on my husband’s blog enlightening. Copy this address into your address bar: http://www.mreades.wpengine.com/drmike/archives/2006/04/my_morning_horo.html
    and decide for yourself
    .

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