Like or not, Walmart is a force to be reckoned with in the food world. The biggest grocery retailer in the U.S. is now said to control between 20 and 30 percent of the American food market. Reformers looking to improve our food system increasingly understand that -- much like China in the climate debate -- Walmart is an 800-lb. gorilla that can't be ignored.
This understanding helped fill a packed auditorium for a UC Berkeley class called Edible Education 101 earlier this week, where Michael Pollan interviewed Jack Sinclair, the executive vice president of grocery merchandise for Walmart. (The class, co-taught by Pollan and People's Grocery's Nicki Henderson and organized by the Chez Panisse Foundation, is also open to the general public, though tickets are limited.)
Pollan pointed out that many in the food movement don't trust the companies that have created and profited from our industrialized food system. Can big corporations help fix something they broke themselves?
"I'm actually of two minds on this question," Pollan said: sure, he's excited by the tremendous energy behind food alternatives like organic farming, food co-ops, and farmers' markets -- but he also believes we'll need larger changes to make good, healthy food accessible to everyone.