Why don’t I shop at Wal-Mart? Oh, let me count the ways—the giant corporate retailer’s destruction of small-town businesses that can’t compete, it’s tendency to build mass supercenters on the fringes of town, its bullying of manufacturers to lower the prices and thus quality of their products, the claims of discrimination, the claims of denying health insurance, the reopening of a store on Black Friday just hours after an employee had been trampled to death a couple years ago. I guess I could just say, their relentless pursuit of profit at any cost to society.
So I’m quite skeptical of their new campaign that says they’re going green, and giving health insurance and valuable career pathways to employees.
And I was quite surprised to hear last week that First Lady Michelle Obama was endorsing Wal-Mart’s new plan to require its suppliers to create healthier foods, with less sodium, fat, and sugar on its house-brand products, and lower the prices of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other healthier foods. And it’s building stores in places where poor residents do not have access to grocery stores or fresh foods.
Wal-Mart is the nation’s largest grocery retailer, and analysts say this position will have a major ripple through the food manufacturing community. According to USA Today, Mrs. Obama said the plan has “the potential to transform the marketplace and help Americans put healthier foods on their tables every single day.”
“We are really gaining some momentum on this issue, we’re beginning to see things move,” she said at an event in impoverished Southeast Washington, D.C., where Wal-Mart plans to open news stores.
While I’m sure Wal-Mart’s ultimate goal is to make a profit from this, it could bring some positive changes that could eventually help schools as they comply with the new Child Nutrition Act requirements (for more on the recently released regulations, read this School Board News Today story) In other words if you’ve got the power to be a bully, at least use it to do some good.
Now, about the environment…
Joetta Sack-Min, Associate Editor