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Archive for the ‘Wal-Mart’ Category

It's all local

Did you hear the news today, oh boy…Wal-Mart is expanding its reach into the ‘local foods’ market, with plans to double its locally grown produce supplies to 9%. This leaves a bad taste in my mouth, how about you?

While some might view this business decision as a sign that the local foods movement is succeeding in making the case for people supporting local farmers and food producers, a quick look at Wal-Mart’s plans makes it clear we aren’t speaking the same ‘local’ language. By their definition, peppers grown in southern California and sold in a Wal-Mart in the northern part of that state would travel 770 miles and still be local, because state lines are their parameters for local.

But the importance of local foods is about more than distance. What our money supports and how we connect with one another are two important elements of the 30 Mile Meal project.  Wal-Mart’s business move to put local foods in the hands and mouths of more people at less cost will make neither our farmers nor communities more sustainable.

Wal-Mart is known for squeezing its suppliers for the lowest price and will never match the return farmers receive when we purchase directly from them. Then there’s the issue of where our dollars go after leaving our wallets at the WM checkout. According to a paper by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance , for every $100 spent at a national chain like WM, only $43 remains in the community. When that same $100 is spent locally (either directly to the farmer or to an independently-owned food market offering local foods), $68 remains.

The 30 Mile Meal is also about connecting the customer with local growers and producers. The big box realm won’t offer these FACE to FACE connections we experience when we buy at Farmers Markets, through CSAs, and local farm stands. Let us know what you think.

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