maybe only half evil?

whatever else you might think of wal-wart- and i’m told there are people who love them – they are apparently not as wholly evil as i once thought. i was one of the people who considered them to be the lynch-pin of the axis of evil, and i did my best to avoid them. but, where i live, if one wants to buy, for instance, underwear, where once there were several places to shop, there now is nowhere but wal-mart within a 45 minute drive. even though probably kmart and other big, cheapo box stores got their underwear from the same factory in malaysia as wal-mart, it was nice to have a choice. now, those other stores are all gone, and there is just wal-mart. well known for their anti-union, low-paying, no-insurance-providing practices, i felt like i was betraying my principles by stepping foot in the front door (and doing my best to ignore their sticker-weilding greeters).

while the way they treat their employees has, as far as i know, not changed, i was a bit startled to discover that they are purveyors of a lot of organic food. in the film “food, inc.” (mentioned in my last post), the owner of stonyfeild farms, a major player in the organic yogurt market, said that he happily sells his product to wal-mart and that every million dollar sale to them means so many thousands of pounds of pesticides and bovine growth hormones and other assorted nasty chemicals removed from the environment. he said his fellow yogurt makers are horrified that he sells to wal-mart, but he seemed pretty pleased with the deal. the image in the film of the shelves in the store with the “organic” tag, and rows of stonyfeild farms products was impressive. to hear some big-wig in the wal-mart empire saying they had committed to only selling no-growth-hormone milk, and other organic foods,  because that was what their customers demanded was enough to get my wife to drive the extra 20 minutes to the nearest wal-mart with a supermarket to see for herself what it was all about.

and sure enough, she came home with organic pork, chicken, produce and the like. she was very impressed that these things could be had – and at the same price she would have paid at the “regular” supermarket for the same items.

now, i am still concerned with the way wal-mart treats it’s employees and the local economy. but i won’t go into a rant about that here – refer to “wal-mart watch” for that half of the story. don’t get me started!

apparently, if one only goes in to purchase organic foods, one will come away pleasantly surprised. i’m just sorry that making those purchases supports the company as a whole, a company with a pretty poor record for treating employees and for how it impacts local economies. it might be worth the effort to locate other non-evil-empire purveyors of organic foods. but at the very least, wal-mart ( and i can’t believe i am writing this!) is to be commended on their support of the organic food industry.

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Author: stephen

stephen harris is a writer, painter and a photographer who lives with his family in maine.

One thought on “maybe only half evil?”

  1. Interesting to know.

    Wal-Mart also has a community giving program where by they donate $$ to local community causes. Earlier this year I wrote to Wal-Mart on behalf of program I volunteer with. We are raising money to purchase a wheelchair accessible horse drawn carriage to provide nature outings to disabled folk. Within months of receiving my letter, we were $1000.00 richer courtesy of Wal-Mart.

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