Thursday, January 20, 2011

Walmart's Healthy Trojan Horse

First it was a green initiative, and now it's fresh produce and healthier eating. Walmart is constructing a healthy growth strategy that it hopes will reduce the intense opposition that it store expansion plans have generate all over the country-but particularly in New York City. The NY Times has the story: " Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, will announce a five-year plan on Thursday to make thousands of its packaged foods lower in unhealthy salts, fats and sugars, and to drop prices on fruits and vegetables. The initiative came out of discussions the company has been having with Michelle Obama, the first lady, who will attend the announcement in Washington and has made healthy eating and reducing childhood obesity the centerpiece of her agenda. Aides say it is the first time Mrs. Obama has thrown her support behind the work of a single company."

Talk about an unhealthy alliance-big government and a corporate predator partnering to screw the country's small businesses and its retail food workers. But wait, it's not only a partnership, it's an Unholy Trinity: "A number of companies have said they are going to make voluntary reductions in sodium over the next several years, and numerous companies have said they are going to try to get trans fat out of their food,” said Michael Jacobson, executive director of Center for Science in the Public Interest. “But Wal-Mart is in a position almost like the Food and Drug Administration. I think it really pushes the food industry in the right direction.”

There you have it, the largest retailer in the world and the most noxious anti-business, "consumer," group collaborating to alter American eating patterns-with the government as a midwife. Make no mistake about it, at the end of the day eating patterns will not change and obesity will not be reduced, but Walmart's bottom line will be engorged-and FOTUS should be ashamed of her role-with an an announcement scheduled in the Anocostia section of DC where the Walmonster has its own small business reducing plan in the works: ".

This is all nothing but a healthy Trojan Horse-a true devil's bargain: "The world's largest retail store plans to open its first stores in Washington in 2012, according to the chain's website. It's all part of Wal-Mart's urban initiative to supply low priced goods to the District, while providing plenty of jobs. The retailer's website says more than 1,200 jobs can be expected to come to the area as a result.
The four sites include Georgia Avenue NW; New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road NE; New Jersey Avenue NW; and at East Capitol and 58th streets SE. The four stores, will range from 80,000 to 120,000 square feet."

Well, at least the folks looking for some transparency in government can find it now-because there is no more transparent motive than what Big wally is trying to do, and that they have suborned Michelle Obama in their corporate expansion efforts is truly sad: "The first lady’s appearance with Mr. Dach and other Wal-Mart executives when they make the announcement at a community center in Washington’s Anacostia neighborhood on Thursday morning is out of the ordinary and a prominent effort by the administration to spur further moves toward healthier food."

Talk about corporate tool: "Over the last year, Mr. Kass and other aides to the first lady have spent countless hours in meetings with company officials; both Mr. Kass and Mr. Dach said Mrs. Obama pushed the company to hold itself accountable by issuing public progress reports. The Partnership for a Healthier America, a nonprofit organization that works with the first lady on her Let’s Move initiative to reduce childhood obesity, will monitor the company’s progress."

And you thought that the bank bailout was obscene? But the Walmart fresh initiative should not fool New Yorkers-since the retail giant's expansion here will not expand but reduce access to fresh fruits and veggies: "The company says it will also address the problem of “food deserts” — a dearth of grocery stores selling fresh produce in rural and underserved urban areas like Anacostia — by building more stores. And it will increase charitable contributions for nutrition programs."

As we have pointed out: "But, as we have clearly shown, this is fools gold at its worst-with one Walmonster replacing four or five existing smaller supermarkets in a Devil's bargain for NYC." Not to mention the pioneering Korean green grocers who are also on the Walmart chopping block.

The biggest irony here is that the company can cut its own profits for a massive public relations campaign, but can't pay its own workers the wages they deserve: "Mr. Dach said the lower prices and food reformulations were motivated by the demands of Wal-Mart’s own customers. He said the company believed that, if it was successful, the price reductions would save Americans who shop at Wal-Mart approximately $1 billion a year on fresh fruits and vegetables alone."

What we have here folks, is a massive bait and switch-with fresh fruit and veggies as the bait to get millions of customers to switch from shopping at their local stores. And the so-called food deserts that the lachrymose Walmonster is crying about will be nothing compared to the retail small business deserts that will follow in the wake of the Walmart expansion strategy.

This result then will be nothing less than rotten fruit for urban neighborhoods-and the First Lady should drop her Helen of Troy role as the amorata for Big Wally. It's not a healthy part for her to play.