Saturday, January 22, 2011

Clean Your Plate: Walmart Edition

As many of you probably heard, Walmart (and the First Lady) recently announced a plan to make thousands of its packaged foods healthier and to drop prices on fruits and vegetables. This came on the heels of a pledge made this fall to increase their purchasing of locally-grown foods to at least nine percent by 2015.

This week's Clean Your Plate is dedicated to the supercenter behemoth. Why? Well, like everything about Walmart, it comes down to size. With more than 2,750 superstores nationwide, Walmart owns a whopping 25 percent share of the U.S. grocery market. In other words, of every dollar Americans spend on groceries, a quarter goes to Walmart.

So, a two-pronged pledge that involves 1) reducing sodium, trans fat and sugar in its Great Value brand of packaged foods and 2) somehow reducing the prices of fruits and vegetables, has the potential to make a huge dent in our waistlines. Or does it?

There's no doubt that Americans are consuming too much bad stuff -- but will changing the recipe (in relatively small ways) really make a difference? And, will making fruits and vegetables even cheaper (without making the prices on processed food more accurate) mean more people will buy and eat them? And don't get me started on a particularly insidious part of the plan that involves addressing food deserts by, you guessed it, building more Walmarts.

In any case, other people have written more extensively and eloquently about the announcement -- a selection of my favorites appears below. I think you'll find the difference of opinion quite interesting.

Have something to say about the new plan? An article you think we should read? Let us know in the comments.
A few other Walmart articles you might enjoy:

image credit: mjb84/Creative Commons

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