Wal-Mart has announced that it will start a new push to sell organic foods for at least 25% cheaper than its competitors by pairing up with the Wild Oats brand starting in 2,000 stores across America.
Wild Oats, a former Whole Foods property, plans to relaunch later this year as an exclusive Wal-Mart property. They're definitely filling a need in the marketplace; Wal-Mart's internal research shows that 91% of their customers would at least consider buying products from an organic brand if the cost was not an obstacle. Ultimately, the plan is to expand the brand's reach to over 4,000 stores.
I have a lot of mixed feelings on this. On the one hand, organic, healthier foods being available for cheaper is unquestionably a good thing; cost is one of the biggest obstacles preventing more people from eating healthy. In fact, the higher cost of organic foods has typically been one of the arguments classist douchebags love to deny when they try stereotype the working poor as "fat and lazy," and it would be a wonderful side benefit to have to watch them eat crow. Hell, if this were Costco, I'd be jumping for joy over the whole thing.
That's where you hit the snag, because this is Wal-Mart we're talking about here. If you want a face for corporate evil in America, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better example than Wal-Mart (Comcast and Electronic Arts notwithstanding). When it comes to rampant corporate greed and classist employment abuse, you'd pretty much find it impossible to find a worse offender than Wal-Mart. By some calculations, the CEO makes more in an hour than the average worker makes in an entire year, and even if you don't quite buy those numbers, the CEO-to-worker pay ratio is absolutely ludicrous. There's also the facts of rampant sex discrimination and their former illegal policy of no food breaks, their psychotically anti-union efforts (god forbid their indentured employees actually have some agency), and their 90's and 2000's ties to overseas sweatshops. Make no mistake — if you're looking at the face of corporate evil in America, you're looking at Wal-Mart.
So it's hard to figure out how to feel about this. It's frustrating to watch an unquestionably vile entity doing a good thing for the wrong reasons, but maybe it's necessary. On the other hand, maybe this will only serve to increase their profit margins and allow them to further entrench their classist agenda in this country, so its going to just suck all the way around.
Image via AP.