Wal-Mart scores high in Whole Foods faceoff

02/25/2010 05:45:05 PM
Chuck Robinson

Wal-Mart’s fresh produce won over a columnist in March’s Atlantic magazine and scored points over Whole Foods.

Chuck Robinson
Media Watch

Though Corby Kummer said he was not at all a Wal-Mart supporter going into his unscientific blind test, he had a group of foodies in Austin, Texas, compare products from the two retail giants.

The packaged mixed spring greens with sherry vinaigrette from Wal-Mart was a clear win over the same items from Whole Foods, they decided.

Kummer lauded the ability of a “ruthlessly well-run mechanism (Wal-Mart)” to put fruits and vegetables on a consumer’s table. He noted Wal-Mart’s propensity to cut out middlemen and the advantage of smaller growers to deliver produce with lower transportation costs and to fill small orders as needed.

Kummer said, “In an ideal world, people would buy their food directly from the people who grew or caught it, or grow and catch it themselves. But most people can’t do that. If there were a Wal-Mart closer to where I live, I would probably shop there.”

Have a salad, regardless

Over the weekend I heard a talk by Rosalind Creasy, the author of many gardening books including “The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping.”

The talk was part of a garden symposium in Kansas City, where at Powell Gardens Creasy designed part of the Heartland Harvest Garden, a new 12-acre edible landscape meant to educate kids and adults about food production. I helped organize the symposium.

Ros is enthusiastic about people reducing their carbon footprint by growing their own food and is suspicious of “industrial farming.”

After the talk, one of the attendees was quite worried about the fruits and vegetables filling supermarket produce departments.

“Is it good for us at all?” she asked.

I am guessing she avoids Wal-Mart like the columnist mentioned above, though perhaps by ingrained habit instead of proximity.

Also like Kummer above and as I told her, I say eat it if you grow it, or find a local grower you trust and get it there.
However, when that doesn’t work for you, go to Sam’s Club and grab a big tub of greens.

It concerns me that what Ros talked about could so easily get generally turned against healthful produce. I feel positive she would concur. She’s a busy woman, on the road a lot. I saw what she had for lunch.


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