Guess who sells the most organic food? Big, bad, Wal-Mart.
A new report by Scarborough Research finds that the nation‘s largest retailer is also the nation‘s largest organic retailer, selling the most organic foods (though Whole Foods has a higher concentration of organic merchandise) and has the most organic shoppers.
According to their report, 29 percent of organic consumers shopped at Wal-Mart in the last week. The reason appears to be linked to Wal-Mart’s prominent local market penetration. They also found that organic consumers tend to be younger, with high level incomes who spend an average of 15 percent more on their grocery bills than regular consumers.
Unfortunately, because Wal-Mart has a major history of abusive practices, their entry into the organic food market could devastate your small, local organic farmers, as well as your health.
Earlier this year, I ran stories about Wal-Mart’s intention to dominate the organic market, and it appears they’ve succeeded. They are the largest food retailer in the United States, and they’re also China's eighth-largest trading partner – a country where organic enforcement standards are close to non-existent. Just how fresh and organic can food shipped from China be? Are you really getting what you think you’re paying for, even if the price is slightly lower than what you’d find at your local farmers market?
Wal-Mart has, time and time again, shown that they do not have your best interest at heart, as they’ve spearheaded the campaign against stricter food regulations, port inspections, and country-of-origin labeling.
To be fair, I congratulate Wal-Mart for responding to the pressure for healthier fares that we helped create. But because of their unhealthy tactics -- which have been consistently demonstrated in the past, and which are so brilliantly documented in the movie expose' Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price -- I believe that falling for WalMart's cheap promises of healthy fresh foods, available regardless of the season, is a mistake.
In the pursuit of the organic food customer, Wal-Mart is contributing to the degradation of the organic food standards, based on well-founded allegations of selling mislabeled foods produced at factory farms. The USDA has identified numerous incidents of fraudulent labeling in five states, including Minnesota and Texas. Among the products Wal-Mart deceptively labeled as organic were Silk Soy Milk, Florida Crystals Natural Sugar, and various produce items.
You have to 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.
If you want to help yourself, and your country, then support your local farmers, and make sure you purchase fresh organic produce that hasn't seen more of the world than you have. This is truly your best bet to optimize and protect your health. Also, stick with fruits and vegetables that are in season, according to your nutritional type, to get the most bang for your buck.