I read a fascinating article today about how Walmart may be the best place to buy locally grown fresh produce. Yes, Walmart. According to an article in the Atlantic, “The Great Grocery Smackdown” by Corby Kummer, Walmart has a new initiative to purchase food from farms within a day’s drive from one of their warehouses. What this means is that many smaller farms that are not owned by a gigantic agribusiness have a fighting chance of staying in business because they will have a large, steady market for their food. And in a taste-test between produce purchased at Walmart and the same items purchased from Whole Foods, the Walmart food was in many instances preferred to the more expensive items from Whole Foods.
Until very recently, I refused to set foot in Walmart because of their reputation for driving small family retailers out of business and paying their employees poorly. However, the Walmart across from my gym that opens at 7 a.m. has come in handy on more than one occasion when I have forgotten something before going to work. And I grocery shopped at a Walmart on the advice of a friend and I have to admit that I was impressed with the selection of organic and gourmet foods.This article has caused me to give more thought to the positive role that Walmart may play in the future of small local farmers, which is an issue that I feel is important culturally, economically, gastronomically and nutritionally.