To much fanfare, First Lady Michelle Obama stood with Wal-Mart executives to announce the big box store's newest initiative: healthier food. The chain has made a commitment to reduce sodium, trans-fats, and sugar from the foods on its shelves, as well as start to stock more fresh fruits and vegetables. Of course, this being Wal-Mart, the prices will be lower.
You would think someone who is pro-healthy options in every community, pro-fresh foods, and pro-affordable might think this is the best idea yet. But there is one downside to Wal-Mart's announcement, and that downside is that the discount behemoth may be coming to a neighborhood near you.
What? You think that sounds great? Then you probably don't own a small business. Urban areas like New York have been battling to keep Wal-Mart out of the area for years, and have been successful in a union town that finds Wal-Mart's low wages unacceptable and its discrimination suits distasteful. Additionally, if you came from a small town like I did that was eaten up when Wal-Mart moved in, you would be worried about the fate of the community business owners too.
Plus, apparently it makes you fat.
Wal-Mart is using this "fresh food for the undeserved" campaign to sweeten the urban pot and is trying again to get into New York City as well as other urban areas. Reportedly Wal-Mart's growth has been slow, and this is one way to win over the naysayers.
Yes, I believe everyone needs to have access to fresh food. But I would prefer the local farmers' markets continue to expand into these areas (as they are) rather than have a retail bully come in with low wages and small business killing intentions. It's enough to make me lose my appetite.
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