January 24, 2011

This is Big

They're doing more than you might think to improve the
nation's access to fresh, healthy and affordable food.
This is big, and from a company that most of us, including myself, love to hate. But Walmart, the often criticized retail store chain which in recent years has become the nation's largest seller of groceries, is making real and important changes to the food it's providing to America.

After criticizing Domino's Pizza for their recent unhealthy food programs, I thought I would share a more positive take on the nation's food scene. Walmart has decided to take steps, to be rolled out over the next five years, to improve access to healthy food in its stores nation-wide. Working with First Lady Michelle Obama, who has endorsed the plan, Walmart has committed to the following changes:
  • Providing fresh fruits and vegetables at lower prices to consumers. (They have committed to not hurting farmers in this effort, but rather are willing to take a cut to their own profits to expand accessibility). 
  • Lowering salt, fat and sugar in their store-brand foods and encourage other companies, like Kraft, to do the same. 
  • Building stores in food deserts, urban areas with little or no access to groceries (a bigger issue than you might think), offering healthy groceries to areas previous without any access at all. 
  • Increase contributions to nutrition programs. 
The program is not perfect, and many have criticized Walmart for not going far enough with these reforms. But when a company as influential and powerful as Walmart makes changes, they will have impact. Whole Foods can sell all the healthy food they want, but let's face it, they're preaching to the choir. And they aren't accessible or affordable to most Americans. If Walmart is willing to expand access to fresh, healthy foods and encouraging consumers to buy those goods, I'm all for it.