Good Job……Walmart?

When I think of Walmart, I think of a go to spot akin to a super sized CVS. Their food aisle in my mind is many rows of insanely processed food-like imitators stacked neatly in their boxes and cans. You know, the stuff that is making 1/3 of our country obese and the largest cause of diabetes, heart disease and the other big killers out there. Hello rising healthcare costs! I do not think of it as a grocer but apparently this 120 billion dollar giant is the largest in the US. Accordingly, you can imagine my delight when I saw the following front-page headline in the WSJ on Monday: “Local grows on Walmart”. Historically, this shop has a reputation for leveraging their mass scale to buy cheap no matter where cheap comes from. Lately however, they have implemented increased purchasing of locally grown produce to sell in stores. With gas at such a premium, they are not only finding some cost efficiencies but are also pleasing their customers who would rather eat their neighbors beans then those from halfway around the world. This excites me for a number of reasons. First, if Walmart is doing it, hopefully smaller chains will follow. Second, by providing affordable, local produce they are not only improving the health of their customers but improving their local economies by increasing jobs. Here is the glitch. While Walmart is now purchasing 9% of their produce locally, which is double last year’s percent, it is still a small amount. The reality is that the american consumer is used to a store where blueberries are in season 12 months a year and to meet that demand, store must buy from far-away lands. Regardless it is a step in the right direction and I am very pleased to see this headline news. Congrats giant.

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