Wal-Mart grocery, America's largest retailer, has decided to offer more organic food in an attempt to appeal to urban and upscale consumers. Because of Wal-Mart's marketing clout, this move is expected to change the very nature of organic food production.
Some argue that the end result will be more organically farmed land and more available quantities of organic food. But others contend that the move will lower standards and reduce the environmental benefits of organic farming. Many also predict that Wal-Mart's demand for low prices will lead them to outsource their organic food sources overseas to countries such as <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">China</st1:place></st1:country-region>, where the standards for organic farming are dubious at best.Wal-Mart could become <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on">America</st1:country-region></st1:place>'s biggest source of organic foods; it is already the single biggest seller of organic milk.
While, at first glance, organic food at Wal-Mart might sound like a good idea, or even a great idea, many experts like Marion Nestle and the head of the Organic Consumers Industry are concerned Wal-Mart will become a highly negative force for the organic food movement.
Because Wal-Mart has a major history of abusive practices, their entry into the organic food market may activate market forces that could devastate small organic farmers. This will be especially true if they start outsourcing food from <!--?xml:namespace prefix = st1 /--><st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">China</st1:place></st1:country-region>, where organic enforcement standards are close to non-existent.
Now, I am not opposed to selling Chinese goods -- that's why we're able to have such low prices on many of the products we offer on our site. But there is a major difference between light bulbs and organic food. With manufactured goods, it is very easy to check the quality. On organic foods, however, this is much more difficult to do.
This really concerns me. So much so that I have made a commitment to have my private research organization, the Mercola Foundation, purchase a wide variety of organic produce from Wal-Mart, when they are available, to check the level of pesticides and the amount of nutrients in the organic foods they are selling.
But still, congratulations are in order to Wal-Mart for responding to the pressure that we helped create. I applaud your move. But if you even think of using the evil tactics you have consistently demonstrated in the past that are so brilliantly documented in the movie expose Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, I will do everything in my power to publicize your fraud.
And I can tell you right now, I don't need any laboratory to tell me that the organic Rice Krispies that Wal-Mart is selling are not healthy for you.
Always remember, just because someone slaps an organic label on a food product, that label does not somehow magically transform a junk food into a health food. Organic sugar and processed foods are every bit as pernicious to your health as conventional sugar and processed foods.