Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Dark Side of Walmart and Organics

I have to admit, I read about Wal-Mart going Organic in Grist Magazine and I was elated! But now I'm learning there is more to the story than meets the eye. There is a dark side to the Wal-Mart move into organics. But the Wal-Mart-i-zation of Organics may have a dark side with it’s CHEAP AT ANY PRICE business model. I read in the NY Times Magazine a different take on the situation:

“As the organic movement has long maintained, cheap industrial food is cheap only because the real costs of producing it are not reflected in the price at the checkout. Rather, those costs are charged to the environment, in the form of soil depletion and pollution (industrial agriculture is now our biggest polluter); to the public purse, in the form of subsidies to conventional commodity farmers; to the public health, in the form of an epidemic of diabetes and obesity that is expected to cost the economy more than $100 billion per year; and to the welfare of the farm- and food-factory workers, not to mention the well-being of the animals we eat. As Wendell Berry once wrote, the motto of our conventional food system — at the center of which stands Wal-Mart, the biggest purveyor of cheap food in America — should be: Cheap at any price!”

So they will turn the factory farming model that is currently employed and just modify it for organics:

“We have already seen what happens when the logic of the factory is applied to organic food production. The industrialization of organic agriculture, which Wal-Mart's involvement will only deepen, has already given us "organic feedlots" — two words that I never thought would find their way into the same clause. To supply the escalating demand for cheap organic milk, agribusiness companies are setting up 5,000-head dairies, often in the desert. These milking cows never touch a blade of grass, instead spending their days standing around a dry-lot "loafing area" munching organic grain — grain that takes a toll on both the animals' health (these ruminants evolved to eat grass, after all) and the nutritional value of their milk. But this is the sort of milk (deficient in beta-carotene and the "good fats" — like omega 3's and C.L.A. — that come from grazing cows on grass) we're going to see a lot more of in the supermarket as long as Wal-Mart determines to keep organic milk cheap.”
For more discussion on this important issue:

1 comment:

AnotherDisgusted1 said...
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