Wal-Mart: America’s Largest Retailer Of Local Produce
Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, claims that it has become America’s “largest buyer of locally-grown fruits and vegetables”. While a tricky statement to confirm when a retailer has locations thousands of miles apart, the term “local” is referring to the distance between its distribution centers and local farmers. And as long as they’re both within the same state, it’s locally produced.
Treehugger brings up a few interesting points:
Restaurants that currently feature locally produced food will have to compete for the staples of their operation, potentially driving up prices in the short term.
Densely populated urban areas, which tend, coincidentally, to be under served by Wal-Mart, will benefit least from the trend.
Long term, more farmers will move into the once popular enterprise of “truck farming, a.k.a. market gardening.” (Note: CSA’s are a subset of this.)
The nearly abandoned local varieties of fruit and vegetables that are best adapted to local climate will return to popularity. Northern peaches anyone?
The risk of salmonella and other food borne illnesses spreading across state lines and impacting very large populations will be much reduced.
Packing houses will have to establish smaller operating facilities around the country.
The importance of unskilled labor to support the regional markets will touch every state equally.
Summer season (but not winter) consumption of Californias’ agriculturally-important water supplies will be reduced, commensurate with relocation of production.