Signs of the Apocalypse: Wal-Mart Going All Sustainy and Environmental

For those of you who pay attention to big news in business you may have already heard about Wal-Mart’s plans, announced today, about increasing the amount of sustainable agriculture products at its stores.  This would focus on more purchasing of regional products as well as more investment in products produced at small to medium-sized farms.  Sounds good right?

Well allow the cynic in me to ask: what’s the catch?

Not that there has to be a catch (well beyond the obvious goal of courting a certain environmentally minded consumer).  Basically it comes down to this, while I really don’t have all that much against Wal-Mart (I utilize its services when they are convenient, I find reason to criticize some of its practices, all in all it doesn’t greatly affect my day-to-day life), there is certainly an awareness that this is the most massive and wide-reaching retailer in the world, and that alone should always encourage a degree of scrutiny.

And here is something to consider, while it is great that Wal-Mart is planning to support more sustainable farming practices and small to medium farms, the very existence of the stores depend very much on big agriculture because in many ways they are the vast mono-cropping of retail.  Wal-Mart couldn’t exist in its current capacity without its innate relationship with big industrial scale agriculture, and it is not likely that it will ever be able to sever these ties completely without causing serious harm to its own very existence.

So I will applaud the announcement  but maintain my degree of skepticism.  I will ask, what is expected of these small to medium-sized farms that will be providing to Wal-Mart?  Also, watch Wal-Marts’ market shares.  I am also curious if this will do anything to elevate some of Wal-Marts well established reputation for being trashy and a haven for redneckery (and wouldn’t that be its own bit of an apocalypse?).

~ by Nathaniel on October 14, 2010.

One Response to “Signs of the Apocalypse: Wal-Mart Going All Sustainy and Environmental”

  1. As an aside, I think that the next time somebody asks me what I’ve been up to I might just reply “Oh, you know, nothin’ much, just a bit-o-redneckery.” Just sayin’

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