Wal-Mart is Good for the Planet—Wah?

No, not trying to be funny.  I was gabberflasted when I read this article from The Atlantic, which points out that in the past several years the giant grocery / cheap stuff firm has been developing a sophisticated, heterogeneous, localized network of produce suppliers.  This has been a boon for small regional farmers, many of whom are beginning to plant more varieties of fruits and vegetables suited to their respective local ecosystems and which can be rapidly plugged into the Wal-Mart supply chain.  As a result, fresher produce for the buyer, expanded markets for “mom-n-pop” growers, and way, way less carbon output, since instead of trucking the product from wherever a giant ag firm grows it (e.g. apples in Washington, oranges in Florida, cranberries in Jersey) to all the grocery stores across the country, Wally World is selling local food, much of it organic.  (Remember, many of our contemporary notions of where a particular plant “naturally” flourishes are products of the corporate agribusiness model, which prioritizes centralization and standardization.)  Anyway, this trend constitutes a revolution in the American food economy, a giant move away from the factory-farm model which has dominated since World War II.  Wal-Mart’s intentions seem genuinely non-evil (of course, they also realized how much  money is to be made—mountains of it—from satisfying the increasing American demand for fresh local food).  Now they just need to start hocking artisanal handguns.

-TGR

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