May 13, 2006

The Devil Strikes Again...

It looks like Walmart is now selling organic foods. My first reaction when reading about it, in this NY Times article, was this: Walmart is a dirty, dirty company and I wish they would just leave us alone already. Hey, Walmart, you're a huge company, you take advantage of your low-income customers and employees and can't you just please stop it now? I guess not.

I don't really ever buy organic foods. I should and I would like to for certain things, for sure. Perhaps when I'm back in the states I will search those products out more often, but here in France I'm just not as concerned about it. There is something kind of offputting to me when I see "ORGANIC" in huge letters splashed across a package of Macaroni and Cheese or condensed soup. I'm not going to buy those things anyway, but some people are. Many people will think that it's a lot healthier, and in America, we all know that our consumer brains will make choices on how we feel, not necessarily the truth since we don't have hours to spend at the store reading every label and sorting through all the bullshit. We don't have time to pay attention to what we eat and with advertizing being thrown in our faces everywhere we look, we're dull to it. (You might disagree, but after living abroad for a year and returning to the US, the thing that surprised me most was the amount of advertizing in my face all the time.)

From the article:
Mr. Hartman, the Seattle consultant, said organic now means different things to different people. "It's a multifaceted symbol representing everything from quality to health to ideology, and everything in between," he said. "It's something that lets people feel even better about their choices."

It strikes me as a huge contradiction that Walmart would be selling organic foods, but I suppose that now organic means "whatever we want it to mean." After a few years, the word organic will probably be as meaningless as "low carb" on a package of eggs or ground beef. But, I'm glad that people can feel better about shopping at Walmart. I used to feel so guilty when I'd go in to load up on cases of Pabst, Jack Daniels, 48 packs of Kraft dinner, 25 frozen pizzas, 10 gallons of Tide and a few apples. I'm so glad that now with those organic apples and organic Mac 'n cheese, I can walk out with pride. It won't even bother me so much when I have to look at the decrepid teenage mother of 3 working as the cashier because I know she is proud to work for a company like Walmart that makes me feel so good and responsible about my food choices. I'm sure since she can now afford to start buying organic foods from Walmart, she won't even be all that down about not having health insurance.

Anyway, it was an interesting article. Walmart will always be looking for ways to stay on top. Another article/blog I read recently about elistism in food is very interesting, too. Of course, people shop at Walmart very much by necessity and so long as healthy food (like vegetables and fresh food) are more expensive than processed packaged foods, obesity and poor health will always be a heavily low-income problem. Author Michael Pollan has really interesting things to say about the big picture; I urge you to read this!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And I've even heard that Walmart will be selling their own brand of wine as well! Can't wait to have some of that "I Can't Believe It's Not Vinegar" brand. Cheers!