Walmart weighs in on local produce

Let me start with a disclaimer. I don't have any personal connection with Walmart and I'm aware of the issues that unions, small locally-owned stores and others have had with the corporation. We rarely even set foot in our local Walmart mega-store.  We do have a Sam's Club card and occasionally buy something there, but do most of our non-CSA grocery shopping at another chain entirely.

We've continued to get the majority of our veggies and fruits from our CSA, Grant Family Farms. The organic produce, mostly grown locally, or in the case of apples, regionally has been wonderful. On the other hand, I've been fully aware we're in a minority. There are lots of people who could afford the extra price, but have never tried farmers' markets. Others don't have access to a CSA organization. Many more wouldn't be able to afford the prices even if they wanted to purchase these kinds of groceries. I've seen articles implying governmental support would be needed before this happened.

I doubted that was likely to occur, but wondered if one of the huge grocery chains could start the process of giving making healthier choices available for almost anyone. Now that seems to have started.

A article in the October 14, 2010 edition of the New York Times gave me some measure of optimism in this arena  and some background information that I was unaware of.

Walmart is the world's largest grocer. What it does can influence markets and manufacturers across the  globe. That being said, up until now I hadn't heard much that linked the chain with sustainable agriculture.

Apparently Walmart has been edging toward sustainability goals for five years and set a series of these targets. Now they're turning their sights toward food with a goal of doubling the percentage of produce grown in a given area, actaully the same state a given store is located in.

Still they are only aiming at a 9% local foods goal in the United States. That's a sliver, a nice sliver to be sure, but they're already set much higher targets in Canada (30% by the end of 2013 according to the article).

They're also planning to spend a billion dollars on food from farms much smaller than the enormous ones most of their groceries come from now, cut down on food waste by improving their farm to market shipping patterns, and query their large-scale producers on their use of water, fertilizer and chemicals. There's even a beef-purchase clause in their new plan that is aimed at prevention of further loss of the Amazon forest.

All this will result in more money in the Walmart coffers, but I don't care. They have such incredible clout, on such a wide scale that their new goals will influence agricultural and marketing practices in a major fashion.

It's a good start.

One Response to “Walmart weighs in on local produce”

  1. There are some fascinating points in time on this article however I don’t know if I see all of them heart to heart. There's some validity but I'll take hold opinion till I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we would like more! Added to FeedBurner as effectively

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