Friday, December 14, 2007

Is Wal-Mart Good for the Organic Movement?

Cross-posted at Moms Speak Up.

Ever since I heard that Wal-Mart carries organic products, I've felt a nagging sense of dread. On the one hand, Wal-Mart entering the organic market means that many millions of people will have access to organic products when they might not have otherwise. That is good. But what are the downsides? I've often feared that big-name retailers selling organic products may do more harm than good. And now some of my fears are being realized.

A series of lawsuits has just been filed accusing Wal-Mart, Costco, Target, Safeway, and Wild Oats of consumer fraud for marketing suspect organic milk. According to a lawyer for the prosecution, these retailers are accused of selling milk marked "USDA organic," while the cows are penned in factory-confinement conditions.

It is terrifying to me that these retailers may be misleading the public like this. And I fear this is only the beginning. Will the USDA organic label be slowly corroded by big box retailers like Wal-Mart until no one can trust the label anymore or is this just a hiccup in an otherwise positive venture to bring quality organic products to those who would otherwise lack access?

I'd be interested in your thoughts - is Wal-Mart good or bad for organics?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is one of the advantages of living in a rural farming area. While I do shop at a big grocery store for daily supplies the bulk of my vegetables, yogurt, cheeses, some of my flour and oats and even my honey comes from local producers. I do not buy organic in the food store, I believe it's basically hype to get health conscious consumers to shell out more cash!

5:41 AM  
Blogger sam said...

You know, when I started to see this "organic" stuff popping up everywhere at reasonable prices - since we all know that most original organic carry a heftier price tag - I became suspect of their authenticity.

These law suits have just verifies that, and it's a shame really. Why must they play on naive and/or trusting consumers to cheat us all the time?

9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think everything Wal-Mart touches turns to crap. If they're trying to stock their stores with organics, the organic farmers and suppliers are not going to be able to keep up while maintaining their current quality and either they'll have to refuse the contracts with the big box stores, or they'll have to resort to factory-like farm tactics to maintain that level of production.

More organics at a more affordable price is a noble sounding idea, but I don't think it's possible. It's sad, but that's what I think.


10:51 AM  
Blogger Kyla said...

I don't know. I think that organics should be more cost effective so more people can benefit from them, but I don't think compromising their quality is a good thing at all.

12:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that the main stream stores carrying organic is going to bring the prices down eventually...when they realize that more people are getting interested in organic..however, Wal-Mart is horrible anyway, so we don't shop there. They bully their suppliers and that's how they get their prices so low, they have no morals about them at all. It is scary though, that places I trust like Wild Oats has been caught in this, because that's where I buy most of my milk. My Beast can't handle Kraft Mac n cheese, even the organic makes her have horrible diarrhea, and I've often wondered if they're lying about it being truly organic. It's a sad world when eveyone is messing with our food.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Green Bean said...

I pretty much agree with all of the comments above. The one big advantage I see of Wal-Mart and other big box stores going organic is hopefully a shift of industrial farms toward more sustainable (or at least pesticide-laden) practices. Less toxins in the environment is a good thing - no matter how you accomplish it. Of course, if Wal-Mart and others are misrepresenting, that's a whole other story.

9:17 PM  
Blogger Lisa~Crazy Adventures in Parenting said...

Wow I had no idea! We shop at our commissary, who are bringing in organic brands themselves. We don't shop at Walmart, thankfully, or else I'd be upset by this. Isn't there some sort of testing for who can put the label on their product? I'm going to find out, I'm surprised by this!

6:37 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Horizon used to be right down the street from us. I'm not sure what happened or why the farm was sold (and I'm sure it wasn't the only farm for Horizon) but since they've been gone I've heard that Horizon farmers are pushing the "organic" limits - only leaving the cows to pasture the minimum time, sometimes less, etc, etc. Unfortunately I think you've hit the nail on the head again. The only way to be sure what you're getting is to buy local or raise it yourself.

Sam Walton is rolling over in his grave - I believe it. It's sad - he had a great vision.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Mommy off the Record said...

Thanks for all the comments. I would like to think that getting big retailers involved selling organics would be beneficial, but I fear that because their main goal is to make money, big box stores will only hurt the organic movement. My biggest worry is that they will lobby the government to lower the standards that define the "USDA organic" label. But perhaps I'm wrong!

All I do know is that buying organic (if affordable) is a great way to send a message to companies that we do value organic and "natural" products. If you can buy locally from a farm, like Elizabeth does , that is the best way to go of course so all your dollars go right to the farmer. But I know that's not possible for everyone.

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know that organics were ever defined well enough to be trusted as such to begin with.

1:03 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

BlogHer Ad Network
More from BlogHer
Advertise here
BlogHer Privacy Policy

Moms Speak Up

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

A Perfect Post

A Perfect Post

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

More Bling