Thursday, March 4, 2010

Grocery Showdown: Walmart vs. Whole Foods

You probably would not be surprised to learn that I love Whole Foods. Sure, it may be nicknamed "Whole Paycheck," and it may veer slightly away from the idealistic locavore shopping spree that I often dream of. But, it offers quite a variety of products that do take into consideration ethics and sustainability.

Recently, the Atlantic ran an article comparing Walmart organic, local, etc. products to those at Whole Foods. The author, Mr. Corby Kummer, went into this experiment like me, skeptical. How could a grocery super-power that offers the lowest prices, in addition to everything from clothing to trash cans, ever live up to the standards of Whole Foods.

As you will read, Walmart prevailed for some of the dishes in the blind taste test! I will admit, that the Big Box has been making admirable efforts to be more sustainable - if one can be "sustainable" at that large of a scale. And because they are so big, they have enough clout in the industry to really make changes. But, really, Walmart Green? I think not.

While the video put me off in the beginning, with the author's slightly pretentious demeanor, by the end I found myself nodding my head. I don't like Walmart. I don't like the general concept of these mega-conglomerates that jack DOWN the price of goods with so many external costs. That said, Walmart does bring produce to communities that probably would otherwise focus solely on highly processed, high fat, high sugar products. Who am I, really, to judge people just scraping by, who purchase "fresh" peaches flown in from Chile?

All that over with, I think I'll stick with my local farmer's market for produce, eggs, and dairy. Thank you very much!

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