Wal-Mart is Going to Stick It To Us Again

>> Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I grew up in a family that shopped regularly at local farmers markets. I married a woman whose family also shopped regularly at local farmers markets. Together we raised children who now shop at local farmers markets. So when I read recently about how Wal-Mart, of all places, announced they are going to begin selling produce raised by local farmers, I instantly grew suspicious.

Here’s what I am concerned about. If a business the size of Wal-Mart begins buying up all the local produce will there be any left for those of us who don’t want to buy from stores like Wal-Mart?

It seems to me that since they are in this to make money that I may soon have to start buying my local produce at Wal-Mart and paying more for it for the same produce I now get at the roadside stands.

This turn of events will probably be very attractive to the farmers because they can sell all of their stuff without having to maintain road side stands and they won’t have to pay someone to sit there every day selling their stuff. So once again Wal-Mart is disrupting another local tradition. This time instead of putting local businesses out of the market they are subjugating buyers in yet another way.

I am all for cutting down the number of miles my food has to travel for reasons involving both freshness and greenhouse gas emissions. And I applaud Wal-Mart in doing their part to cut down on fuel usage, but, let’s be honest, this latest endeavor will only benefit Wal-Mart, again. And ii is going to cost us more, again.

So, I guess it's time to begin expanding my raised beds and start growing more in my own yard.

Am I wrong about Wal-Mart? Does this sound like a good idea to anyone out there? What’s your opinion?


Daisy July 10, 2008 at 10:07 AM  

I don't think you're wrong about Wal-Mart. I don't know enough to say you're right, either, but I have similar suspicions. I really like buying from farmers at the market because I get to see them, talk to them, ask them for advice on my own garden. I notice who's there and who's skipped a week, and I always ask the next week if everyhting's okay.

No matter how many dollars a Wal-Mart contributes to a community, it can't replace the experience or sense of community I have when I shop at a farmer's market. I hope our local one doesn't try that... If they do, I'd be in your same pickle: support my local farmer's decision to sell to the evil empire or become more of a local farmer so I can have the produce I want?

Greg W July 12, 2008 at 3:42 PM  

You bring up an interesting point, Daisy, about the sense of community that Wal-Mart is disrupting. I too enjoy talking with the person who actually raised the food I am about to eat. You rarely every get to do that.

It seems the 'eat local movement' is taking on a new dimension meaning more of us will be eating more out of our own gardens.

Hopefully this level of independence will never be sold out.

By the way, I like the way your garden is coming along.

Kate July 14, 2008 at 6:49 PM  

I doubt any large chain could buy enough from the local growers who would normally be selling at a farmers'market to make it worth their while. The big chains don't want to spend money getting carrots from 6 different suppliers and then find that they are not 'perfect' ie all the same size or free of blemishes and so on. I think your farmers markest will be safe, as are ours here.

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