Wally’s Farm Market?

by Ana Grarian

Walmart says it wants to promote sustainable agriculture.

In an article in the Des Moines Register cleverly headlined:

“Walmart wants Iowans to farm by its principles”

Philip Brasher gives us the lowdown on how the nation’s largest food retailer hopes to improve our food system and save the planet, or at least the US from pesticides, water pollution, and profligate wasting of water, by changing the way we grow crops.

Walmart pledges to double sales of local foods by 2015. Now I don’t know how Walmart defines local, but judging from the Walmarts I have been in they could easily double that by next week. I don’t know that there is anything local in my neighborhood Walmart.
Does Walmart have the power and how would that play out? Buying local and sustainable products will not work unless the products are affordable to the customers. Most customers I’m afraid would ditch Walmart in droves if prices go too high. Although of course in many communities there are no longer any alternatives to Wally World. Keeping prices low could mean continuing to have farmers producing for less than poverty wages, which is not good either.

I would love to believe this could work. If consumers could get healthy, ethically raised AND PROCESSED, foodstuffs at reasonable prices, yet prices that fairly paid the producers, Ana would be in Hog Heaven. But how do I trust the ultimate merchant of third world goods, sold by underpaid employees to really care about the environment, the economy, and the welfare of livestock?