Thursday, March 4, 2010

Wallymart does it again - 'Sustainable' Foood?

Wal-Mart has gone to great lengths recently to market locally-produced food, most likely in an effort to blunt its reputation for destroying Mom and Pop stores and treating its workers badly.
Some say this new focus on buying fruits and vegetables grown closer to Wal-Mart stores may actually help save America's small farmers. However, what they fail to acknowledge is that the movement to re-localize our food consumption was born out of more than just wanting to decrease how far food travels.
Sadly, "local" seems to being going the way of "organic" in terms of marketing use. Since consumers are willing to pay a premium price for local food -- that is, food they perceive comes from local sources and is grown in an environmentally sustainable manner -- many companies like Wal-Mart (and of course, Whole Foods) have started to amp up their marketing around these types of products.
Even though Wal-Mart claims this is part of its new sustainability plan, a spokeswoman also said the company's focus on local food will also save millions of dollars in fuel costs by cutting down on the transportation distance their food travels from supplier to store. Which is great for Wal-Mart, but not necessarily better for farmers or consumers.
If you're really concerned with where your food comes from, don't simply fall for buzz words like localand organic when you're at the grocery store. Instead, do the legwork and get to know the farmers in your area that grow food for local consumption.  Like the Food Project for example.
I guarantee you, the relationship you build with your local farmer will be much more rewarding than the one you'll develop with your local Wal-Mart clerk.

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