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Is Walmart Really Going Organic and Local?

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's All About Organics page and our Breaking The Chains page.
I live on an organic farm in North Carolina, so I don't spend much time roaming my local Walmart looking for produce. But on a recent trip to Austin, Texas, I decided to stop by a busy supercenter to see how the company was going about its well-publicized push to sell more local and organic food.

The produce section sat between the in-store McDonald's and some giant coolers packed with Hormel bologna. There were crates piled high with perfect orbs of cabbage and tomatoes, onions and melons. Elephant-ear-size collard greens sat in tight bunches; stacks of fist-size lemons beamed yellow. Plenty of fresh food, to be sure, though a few "Grown in USA" signs were the nearest thing I could find to an indication of local. Organic? A few bags of house-brand lettuce claimed that standard.

But you can't judge Walmart on a single store. The company sells 18 percent of all the groceries bought in the United States-more than anyone else by a wide margin. And it's not just Froot Loops and rock-hard tomatoes. Over the last decade, Walmart has emerged as a massive player in the organic-food market. By 2006, the year it made a splashy announcement about doubling its sales of organic food, it was already the nation's No. 1 seller of organic milk. By 2007, according to the market data firm Scarborough Research, shoppers in search of organic food chose Walmart more often than any other grocery store.


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