Sunday, July 16, 2006

Wal-Mart Does Organic 


I've used this space to trash Wal-Mart plenty in the past, and will no doubt do so in the future, so here's a little pat on the back to the world's largest retailer.

Wal-Mart is starting to offer organic food at their stores. This is good.

Of course I remain at heart a jaded pessimist, so I'm guarded about cheering too loudly. As others have noted - click the link above to see what I'm talking about - Wal-Mart is in a unique position to change the way people shop and eat, and therefore how the market produces what people buy and eat. This means more muscle behind organic farming. The problem is I don't trust the fuckers. I'm afraid that this might increase the amount of "organic farming" based less on an actual increase in real organic farming and more on Wal-Mart lobbying to change the meaning of "organic." I'll be pleased if my fears prove unfounded, but their activities in the labor end of things predispose me to deeply distrust anything that spews forth from their PR machinery.

But this does play into my market judo meta-story (i.e., harnessing market forces for positive social change), so I'm enjoying it. They wouldn't be doing this if they didn't have reams of market research suggesting a growing market for organic food. And that research means that people have been voting with their dollars - buying enough organic at inflated prices (due to smaller production and distribution systems) that the big boys are buying in to a positive movement.

Just thought I'd pass this along.


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