WalMart in the Crusade to Support Local, Sustainable Food?

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Walmart Stores Signal a Shift Towards Locally Grown Produce: the Heritage Agriculture Program

Local Food Growers Represented in a North Carolina WalMart

Local Food Growers Represented in a North Carolina WalMart

Whether you shop there or not, and it’s sometimes hard not to given Americans’ propensity to shop as cheaply as possible, WalMart continues to push forward in a marketing campaign that may not be all about shaping up its image in the country. Whatever your stance on the retail giant, positive or negative, one has to admit that the store’s presence in local economies provides ample material for rigorous debate over the pros and cons. But if the megastore enacts a pro-organic or pro-local or pro-sustainable policy that is company-wide, is that enough to turn the tide of negative press? I mean, just in terms of raw numbers, wouldn’t a nation-wide sustainable agriculture position, embodied in the sale of local-only agriculture in every WalMart store in the country look like something significant? While some want to spotlight the giant as a too-big devil capable of doing only terrible things to local economies and family-run businesses, that may be just too broad a brush to paint them with. Now, it seems that Walmart has been employing a local food distribution policy, perhaps challenging the market leaders like Whole Foods. The program that guides this new Walmart behavior has been named the Heritage Agriculture program. And as we said earlier, this is the world’s largest retailer. That’s correct. Biggest on the globe. So a shift in their approach to local economies spells something dramatic and positive.

Learning More About Walmart and the Heritage Agriculture Program

Things aren’t as rosy as they could be, mainly because in the Walmart definition of locally grown food, the policy is to incorporate and include state-wide farms and food growers. So we’re not talking community-focused agriculture, be we’ll take what we can get, many supporters of sustainable agriculture are thinking. The goal is to include just under 10% of locally grown agriculture into the Walmart grocery supercenters in the States. For Canada, the goal is nearly three times that number, with a promise of 30% incorporation of locally grown produce by 2013.

The Heritage Agriculture program extends beyond buying up local produce for Walmart Grocery Supercenters, though. In fact, the company has plans to create a sustainability rating system for locally produced fruits and vegetables that is said to be based on total water, chemical and waste use. And there is an educational arm of the program set to be enacted, as well, where Walmart plans to work with farmers on what is most needed in the marketplace and how best to grow the food based on sustainable agricultural practices.

(Read the full article now at JustMeans)

(Read from the original WalMart Press Release now)

(Photo Via: NCAGR blog)

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