Walmart is not America’s food saviour

From Tom Laskawy, on Grist.org:

One of the new, smaller "neighborhood markets" Walmart has been opening in urban areas.

“Reforming our food system is a Herculean task; one that might intimidate Hercules himself. Willie Nelson and Anna Lappe summed up the challenge recently in the Huffington Post:

Of the 40,000 food items in a typical U.S. grocery store, more than half are now brought to us by just 10 corporations. Today, three companies process more than 70 percent of all U.S. beef, Tyson, Cargill and JBS. More than 90 percent of soybean seeds and 80 percent of corn seeds used in the United States are sold byjust one companyMonsanto. Four companies are responsible for up to 90 percent of the global trade in grain. And one in four food dollars is spent at Walmart.

Meanwhile, author Eric Schlosser and urban agriculture pioneer Will Allen put the consequences of all this in sharp perspective in their afterword to the recently published book based on a 2011 Prince of Wales speech on the importance of sustainable agriculture. The essay reads:

Young children and people of color are being hurt the most. During the past 40 years, the obesity rate among American preschoolers has doubled. Among children aged six to 11, it has tripled. Obesity has been linked to cancer, heart disease, and diabetes…As upper-middle-class consumers increasingly seek out healthier foods, the fast food chains are targeting low-income, minority communities — much like the tobacco companies did, when wealthy and well-educated people began to quit smoking.

…Access to good, healthy food shouldn’t be reserved for a privileged few. It should be a basic right.

And they’re right, of course. We need a solution that applies to everyone — not just to those who can afford to opt out of the industrialized food system.

There are those working on this issue, including many in the Obama administration, who believe the key to turning back the tide is getting companies like Walmart to provide access to healthy foods in areas that lack it. And, as Grist reported recently, the Arkansas-based behemoth is well on its way to taking over the food system even without government encouragement. In 2011, Walmart pocketed at least a quarter of all U.S. spending on groceries and accounted for over 50 percent of grocery sales in 29 metropolitan markets.

Meanwhile, a new report from Food and Water Watch argues that, not only is Walmart’s dominance problematic in general, but the company’s recent projection of itself as a food system savior is misleading. As the report concludes:…”

Read it all on Grist.org

3 Comments

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3 responses to “Walmart is not America’s food saviour

  1. The big companies see the power for going local. They will continue to grow and establish these “food-hubs.” All a matter of controlling the food supply and the consumers rights to eat good fresh local and clean safe foods. Look at what the government is doing to spread food-hubs under the mask of doing good for the community and the farmers. Just this week, we were told that the Obama Administration does not want our children to bring their own lunch to school. That we, their parents, do not have the right to pack their lunch for school. This is ridiculous.

    America, Canada, World; it is time to resist. The Beatles had it right when they made the song “revolution.” So did Gandhi.

    Milkmen USA

  2. the situation in India in Ghandi’s day was so different than in Ham-merica, today, that it’s a major mistake to urge copying it. Not going to happen. Ghandi led millions of people who had little to lose, whose culture was millenia of servitude to a tyrant. What he did was to displace the British Raj, with national socialism

    White Americans are still well insulated in denial of the magnitude of the calamity even as it’s unfolds around them. The root of the overall problem is the false shepherds who infest the pulpits of the nation = race traitors in high places. Supposed to be the Watchmen of the nation, they’ve done the very opposite

  3. Mark

    If we allow such a small number of companies to have monopoly in the food market we can no longer expect that the organic food industry will be dominant in a few years. Look what Monsanto is doing to organic farmers and even our judicial system seems to be supportive of these unlawful attacks. The farmers can’t protect their rights against this mega-corporation and if this unfair treatment continues I am afraid that the organic food phenomena may easily fade away in the years to come.

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