Organic Consumers Association

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The Big Greenwash: Wal-Mart Commits to So-Called Healthier Food

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Thursday announced a five-year plan to sell healthier foods in products like lunch meats, potato chips, fruit juices and salad dressing, adding momentum to efforts to combat obesity.

America's largest grocer pledged to reduce salts, fats and sugars in thousands of products, and to lower prices on fresh fruits and vegetables. First lady Michelle Obama, who has made healthy eating the centerpiece of her agenda, was on hand for the retailer's announcement in Washington.

The first lady said Wal-Mart had the "potential to transform the marketplace and help Americans put healthier foods on their tables every single day."

But some Kansas City grocers might be wondering what took Wal-Mart so long.

The area's biggest chains - Hen House Markets, Hy-Vee and Price Chopper - point out they already offer their customers a smorgasbord of healthy choices ranging from nutritional recipes to new products.

"We think it is great because Wal-Mart touches so many people," said Ruth Comer, spokeswoman for Hy-Vee. "Our goal is to give customers resources so they can improve their health. We applaud any company that wants to get on board."

When surveys over the last few years showed Hy-Vee customers would eat healthier if doing so was affordable, the chain based in West Des Moines, Iowa, put several plans in place. Its website now offers 30 dietician-approved recipes for $3 a serving, including ginger and brown-sugar glazed salmon, Caribbean jerk pork tenderloin and Parmesan-crusted cod filets.

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