Yesterday Wal-Mart announced plans to focus on sustainable agriculture and local food in efforts to reduce its environmental impact. The new program would source more locally grown food for Wal-Mart stores across the country, invest in training and infrastructure for small and medium-size farmers, and seriously assess the efficiency of large suppliers.
Considering that Wal-Mart is the single largest grocer in the world, a major shift in its supply chain could have huge and lasting implications.
This is a new phase in Wal-Mart's sustainability plan, which includes incorporating green labels and phasing our furniture made from illegal wood. It looks like they've been working on this new goal to source more locally grown food for awhile. And maybe we shouldn't get too excited yet. The current plans in the US are to double the percentage of locally grown produce Wal-Mart sells, but that's still only bringing it up to 9% of the total food Wal-Mart buys. (Compare this to Wal-Mart in Canada, which expects to buy 30% of its produce locally by the end of 2013, eventually increasing that to 100%.)
Margaret Mellon, director of the food and environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, called the move "very impressive" and found it "encouraging that Wal-Mart understands that the path forward in agriculture isn't through making the big bigger, it's really through encouraging the small and medium-sized farms." However, she said she was "disappointed that goals around organic food were not included, and surprised that Wal-Mart did not address genetically modified seeds and produce."
Read the whole article at The New York Times.
(Image: Things That Make You Go Green)