Monday, February 22, 2010

Walmart PWNS Whole Foods

Well, not exactly, but Corby Kummer has an interesting article at The Atlantic that Wal-Mart is likely better for local foods than you think... and at least the equal to Whole Foods.
The program, which Walmart calls Heritage Agriculture, will encourage farms within a day’s drive of one of its warehouses to grow crops that now take days to arrive in trucks from states like Florida and California. In many cases the crops once flourished in the places where Walmart is encouraging their revival, but vanished because of Big Agriculture competition.

Ron McCormick, the senior director of local and sustainable sourcing for Walmart, told me that about three years ago he came upon pictures from the 1920s of thriving apple orchards in Rogers, Arkansas, eight miles from the company’s headquarters. Apples were once shipped from northwest Arkansas by railroad to St. Louis and Chicago. After Washington state and California took over the apple market, hardly any orchards remained. Cabbage, greens, and melons were also once staples of the local farming economy. But for decades, Arkansas’s cash crops have been tomatoes and grapes. A new initiative could diversify crops and give consumers fresher produce.

Most interestingly, this isn't a program they publicize... they just do it... so you can't even claim they're doing it cynically to cash in on come Locavore craze. As a reality check, however, this "heritage" produce is only 4-6% of their total produce sales.

Regardless, it's a neat take from someone, like many of us urban liberal New Englanders, is predisposed to despise Walmart.