Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Walmart May Beat Whole Foods at its Own Game

Today a friend started an email volley around the "too fat to fly" issue.  Reactions were mixed, though all who responded agreed that one of the ways we can collectively get healthier is to cook real food for ourselves.  The group is health-conscious, and one comment about the obesity epidemic was "the misconception is that eating healthy is expensive." 

It looks like the champion of cheap knows we're all headed towards the buzzwords of local and organic. In "The Great Grocery Smackdown:  Will Walmart, not Whole Foods, save the small farm and make America healthy?" in the March 2010 issue of The Atlantic,  Corby Kummer, a skeptic, puts the Big Box's organic claims to the test.  And not everyone - including the blind tasters in an Austin restaurant known for using local ingredients - will be happy.

Walmart is not a non-profit.  But that they are chasing this market and imagine it going mainstream is a positive sign.  I don't care if they're doing it because using local farmers saves money on transport.  The point is they've bothered to look at whether there is a financial basis for supporting these small operations.  The only thing that drives real change is going where the money is.  Maybe we'll start living according to the old Italian saying of "pay the grocer, not the doctor."

People know they are supposed to be eating organic, but, as my friend stated, most don't believe they can afford it.  If they see it at Walmart, will they buy it?  The bigger question is whether this trend will go the way of "Fat Free."  Americans need to educate themselves about eating real food, and they need to understand that it takes less time to make a healthy, affordable meal than to wait in the drive-through line.  This won't happen overnight, and it will take a huge change.  Will the People of Walmart lead the way?   

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