With news of Wal-Mart shifting their purchasing priorities to attract proponents of local food and the mainstream agriculture industry launching a $30 million PR campaign to fight against their rapidly corroding image, it seems like we should be glowing in triumph… the people have spoken and the corporations are responding in fear! But it isn’t that simple.

The risk of green-washing will certainly cloud the judgment of most citizens (and Wal-Mart shoppers) rather than inspire understanding of the complex layers of contradictions “sustainable food” issues present.  Even those of us who have pledged most of our lives, and finances, to supporting and promoting the small food businesses that actually do adhere to ethical, fair, small scale practices have a hard time sorting through it all.  But what hurts the most is, even in a time when terms like “sustainable” or “artisan” or “local & organic” seem old hat and cliché, the hard facts remain that the real people working so hard to produce these foods for us still can’t always succeed. Read more