Thursday, February 25, 2010

Organic, Sustainable . . . Walmart?

Sounds like an oxymoron, right? But Walmart has apparently made big changes in its produce department. Corby Kummer, food writer for The Atlantic Monthly, visited a Walmart for the first time in a decade and was amazed by the transformation. You can read about his impressions in an article in the current issue of The Atlantic, "The Great Grocery Smackdown."  Make sure to check out the video that accompanies the article—if I didn't know better, I would have thought I was viewing a Whole Foods or other high-end market.

As Kummer points out, Walmart's new emphasis on sustainable agriculture and organic produce is good news for local farmers and consumers alike in areas which typically have poor produce choices. Kummer is not naive. He knows Walmart is not acting purely out of altruism. His point is that offering healthy fruits and vegetables may benefit both the company and the populations it serves. Kummer concludes his article with the following—"I’m convinced that if it wants to, a ruthlessly well-run mechanism can bring fruits and vegetables back to land where they once flourished, and deliver them to the people who need them most."

1 comment:

  1. Walmart, and the Walton family, have been at the leading edge of the green movement for years, and their committment to organic food is consistent with their policy. For instance, Hanes, the underwear maker, has made their cotton suppliers in Asia farm organically, because Walmart said they won't stock them if they didn't.

    Yes, this move makes money by saving money for everyone (except the final consumer, who still pays a premium for organic): the farmer saves on pesticides, eventually learning how to get similar yields using integrated pest management; the factory by reducing toxins and absenteeism; Hanes by more efficiant shipping/packaging (Walmart refuses large "display" boxes),and Walmart by reducing inventory space and charging us the organic premium.

    Nice! A green that even Republicans can approve of..

    John J.