News — By Ben on 25 February 2010

Welcome to the new “Food News” section of What’s Cooking? The goal of this section is to share interesting news, trends, ideas and thougnts relevant to the foodie world. As always, feel free to contact me with your feedback and opinions.

Browsing the web I found this very interesting article by Corby Kummer about Walmart. I do most of my grocery shopping at three places, the Mexican market closest to my house, Kroger and Walmart. I’ve found that produce and meat is fresher and cheaper at the Mexican market (besides I like the idea of asking a butcher to get your meat and not having to pick it up already cut and wrapped from a shelf) while other groceries (oil, grains, cereals, pasta, canned goods, etc) are cheaper at Walmart. For more specialized items I go to Kroger or the North Market in downtown Columbus and very rarely I visit Whole Foods.

Part of this is convinience. Kroger and the Mexican market are close to my house and there’s a Walmart right across the street from my gym. But mainly my shopping is categorized that way because of prices. I do, however, can’t stop feeling guilty every time I enter a Walmart. There are many reasons, but the main one is that big supermarkets like this had a hand in destroying local economies. But after reading Kummer’s article I kind of felt less guilty (?) about shopping at Walmart.

Besides, for my surprise, I’ve found a lot of articles that I never thought would be in their shelfs. For example, the chicken we are eating for dinner tonight is Harvestland chicken (I hate Tyson and all that chicken with added “broth”). They now carry Oikos Greek Yogurt, King Arthur Flour and a lot of produce from local farmers (as well as produce from all around the world).

Is Walmart trying to compete with Whole Foods for a share of the concious-eater market? Is this shift driven by economics only? Whatever the reason they have caugth the attention of many people. They are a HUGE company and whatever they do always have consecuences. Let’s just hope that this new policies are for the greater good.

What do you think?

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About Author

grew up around food. His family owned a restaurant in Mexico City and he spent a big deal of his childhood helping and learning after school the art of creating delicious dishes from simple ingredients. He created this blog to share his kitchen adventures with the world.

(12) Readers Comments

  1. We both spent a good amount of time growing up in the South and going to Walmart was never a moral conflict. We have parents and friends who still frequent the store, and it's not the same place that it used to be. They are expanding and grabbing a new niche market and exposing other communities to fresher foods. People will make their own decisions as to whether or not they want to support Walmart, but for those who are in communities with a Supercenter there that offers organic, farm fresh veggies and fruit…why not.

  2. I don't know if they are trying to compete with Whole Foods, but I recall a segment of Food Inc. that addressed WalMart and their inclusion of organic products solely because their customer base was looking for it. They are very aware of the way they are seen and constantly strive to change the way people perceive them. I think it's a good thing that they carry what we all are looking for, but are able to provide it so that more of us can afford it.

  3. I find that I shop at several stores, like you, Ben. One local grocery has terrific produce, meat & cheese and specialty items that I can't seem to find anywhere else. Another grocer does a lot for the community, so I go there through the week to pick up milk and other last minute items. I will pick up canned goods and packaged items at another big local grocery store, because I can get more for my money. WalMart is a 20 minute drive, so I will go there for mainly paper goods, but will pick up a few food items while I am there. Whole Foods is a 40 minute drive (on a good day) -I go there strictly for bulk flours, seeds, etc. and specific items, usually every four to six months. I try to spread my wealth around, lol.

  4. I'm always interested to know the backstage of big food stores although both aren't in my country. Foodie news is global :)

    Cheers,

    Gera

  5. I just don't like shopping at Walmart but do get some of my groceries at Super Target. The carry things like Bob's Red Mill & I like a lot of their store brand stuff like nuts. But mainly we do our shopping at the two local chains Kowolski's & Lund's. They have butchers that will help me pick the right piece of meat, cut things for me & sharpen my knives for free. They carry lots of local produce, meat & cheeses plus other local produces & mark them to find easily. We find the whole experience much nicer than shopping the big guys even if it does cost slightly more (though still less than Whole Paycheck). I got tired of seeing moldy broccoli on the shelves of the big cheap grocery stores here. What I do miss is Safeway in San Francisco, big chain stores like Cub & Rainbow need to take a cure from those guys.

  6. Very interesting. I'd heard that some Walmarts were being converted into super stores, but I had no idea they actually offered quality food products. I'll check it out one of these days.

  7. I tend to shop according to where I can find things, which can be a challenge here. It's been a trend lately though that especially the larger supermarket chains are getting more variation in what they carry. They will have regular meat, but also organical and they will also carry meat of smaller farms, stuff like that. There is always the choice what you will buy and sometimes it is price for me and sometimes I like to make as much biological or organic choices if I can afford it. it does seem to be more expensive!

  8. I urge everyone to read the book Nickel and Dimed. After reading it, I vowed never to shop at Walmart, no matter how "organic" they go.

    • The Nickel and Dimed by which author? I saw this title of book with two different authors. I am interested in reading this book after you mentioned it…just want to know which one to get. Thanks!

  9. We used to do walmart, but with a new whole food / farmers market that opened near our home, we have been doing aour major grocery from there. much better quality, cheaper and a lot of organic. I do like Kroger better than walmart. but still go back to walmart for the brands like for juice, soda etc, which are cheaper in walmart.

  10. One reason not to shop at Walmart, the way they treat their employees and suppliers. Walmart is a very successful company, for one reason, they give the customer what they want, if the customer wants local food, then walmart will provide it, take their cut, slash some prices, drive local small guys out of business. Buy direct from farmer, that way you can make sure everyone gets paid the fair amount and in return you will get the best quality food possible. Try it, but maybe the farm is too far out of the way (It isn't like the farm is across the street from your gym). I seriously think we all need to start valuing food more, and asking ourselves what really matters in life. For me, it is food (and I don't have a food blog).

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