The struggle for labor justice in the fields of the United States—and perhaps far beyond—took an historic stride forward yesterday. At a folding table in a metal-clad produce packing shed beside a tomato field in southwestern Florida, two high-ranking executives from the giant retailer Walmart, which sells more groceries than any other company in the world, sat down beside two Mexican farmworkers and signed an agreement to join the Fair Food Program. Read more
Today, as we dig into our Thanksgiving leftovers–for us, that’s pumpkin pudding and my mother-in-laws famous nutloaf–we’ll be thinking about the Walmart workers around the country who are bravely stepping away from their jobs to bring attention to the paltry pay and poor working conditions by the country’s largest private employer. Read more
“Please donate food items here so Associates in Need can enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner.”
That’s the text of a sign hanging over a bin at a Walmart in Canton, Ohio. A photo of the food drive surfaced earlier this month, sparking new attention to the connection between hunger and working conditions in America. Read more
Today, together with Causes.Com, I’m launching a new petition to take on what government officials and medical experts are increasingly calling a growing threat to public health: The overuse of antibiotics on animal farms. The petition is expected to reach as many as a half million Internet viewers this week. Petition signers are asking Walmart’s CEO, Mike Duke, to demand that its meat suppliers only use medically necessary antibiotics when an animal is sick, rather than to prevent sickness because animals are crammed in conditions that breed infection. Read more
Recent reports of secret meetings among industry reps and the Food and Drug Adminstration over GMO labeling piqued my interest, mostly because this critical aspect was missing: any effort to label GE foods at the federal level could bring the current grassroots movement to a grinding halt by preventing any stronger local laws from ever being enacted. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Last month, Ronnie Cummins, director of the Organic Consumers Association and one of the leaders of the GMO labeling effort, recently published an article about how “representatives of Wal-Mart, General Mills, Pepsi-Frito Lay, Mars, Coca-Cola and others” met with the FDA on January 11 “to lobby for a mandatory federal GMO labeling law.” Read more
Today, some will feel the sting of cupid’s arrow and fill their days with red roses and chocolate (hopefully fair trade) and a romantic dinner at a fancy restaurant. Other people call today Black Tuesday and will boycott all the hype and commercial schmaltz and stay home, maybe alone, eating leftovers. Still others will eschew people and proclaim their love of profit above all else. This is a love story about the latter category. Sure, we may not consider these two dollar-signs-in-their-eyes
He’s a mad scientist who got rich producing chemical agents for war in his lab and is now trying to pawn off those old toxic chemicals as pesticides and herbicides and squeeze as much money as possible out of raindrops. He calls himself GE Seed King, but we know him as Monsanto.
She ran away from her small hometown in Arkansas to take over every suburb and rural town in America and is now setting her sights on urban centers and every country in the world. To her inner circle, she’s known as Big Box Mama, but to us, she’s Walmart. Read more
This growing season there’s a new GMO in town: Monsanto’s GE sweet corn. This Roundup Ready product is the first GE corn for direct human consumption, and it has not been tested by the USDA and will not be labeled. If you’re unhappy about this, you’re not alone. The majority of consumers don’t want to eat genetically modified foods, and 95 percent feel strongly that they should be labeled. Many retailers, including Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and General Mills, have already agreed to not use GE Sweet Corn in any of their products—but Walmart, the country’s largest grocer and self-proclaimed sustainability adherent, has yet to make such a promise. Read more
Having saturated the rural landscape, shuttering local stores in small town America along the way, now, in the wake of stagnant sales and increased competition, Walmart desperately needs to expand into urban markets.
And what better urban market than one full of eight million people? While the big box retailer is eager to enter the Big Apple, challenges loom large. Given the negative reputation Walmart has earned for being hostile to workers among other problems, many New Yorkers are skeptical, to put it mildly.
To counter the opposition, Walmart is positioning itself as the solution to urban food deserts – areas where finding real food is next to impossible. But as Anna Lappé has eloquently argued, the big box chain isn’t the answer: “Let’s be clear, expanding into so-called food deserts is an expansion strategy for Walmart. It’s not a charitable move.” Read more
Since Walmart’s announcement last week that it will “reduce sodium by 25 percent, eliminate industrially added trans fats, and reduce added sugars by ten percent by 2015,” some experts on food policy and health are claiming this is a step in the right direction, an encouraging sign of progress. Still others think the jury’s out and it remains to be seen if the initiative will prove beneficial. From a nutrition perspective, I find both of these claims faulty. If we intend to take the obesity and diabetes epidemics seriously, and if we truly care about the abysmal state of health of the American people, we cannot put our faith in an empty Walmart promise that barely scratches the surface of our country’s food and health crisis. Read more
Walmart made big news yesterday with a press conference alongside the First Lady to announce new company commitments. Most of the mainstream media coverage of the Walmart announcement seemed to buy the company PR that it was taking valiant steps to improve the affordability and health qualities of the food it sells. Among these commitments, Walmart said it will be working with food suppliers to reduce sodium, sugars, and trans fat in certain products by 2015; developing its own seal to help consumers identify healthier products; and addressing hunger by opening Walmart stores in the nation’s “food deserts.”
Do these Walmart promises really hold big upsides for health and food insecurity? The Times seemed to think so, running with this headline: “Wal-Mart Shifts Strategy to Promote Healthy Foods.” (Am I crazy or does that read remarkably like the Walmart press release: “Walmart Launches Major Initiative to Make Food Healthier and Healthier Food More Affordable”?) Had the Times been aiming for accuracy it might better have titled the article: “Walmart Launches PR Campaign Promoting Promises to Win the Hearts and Minds of Urban Consumers.” Read more