Friday, July 03, 2009

Just another reason ...

I know most of you think I'm ridiculous with my "thing" against Walmart and I'm sure Walmart cares not a whit that Sisiggy isn't spending her little pittance at their stores.

Walmart is by no means alone in exploitative practices, but they are the leader and, worse, a model that other stores emulate.

I will grant that it is practically impossible to live reasonably without going into a big box store at some point. Believe me, we've tried. Some things are prohibitively expensive -- not the fault of the local store, but simply because they don't sell the volume to get the kind of deals a large distributor can cut. Some things just aren't available, usually because the big box corporation made their deal "exclusive" and the merchandise provider is permitted to supply only them.

Every now and then, though, something like this happens that drives home the directive to support local businesses.

I know that this is hardly the catastrophe that explosive words like "plague" and "famine" hint at. But it is cause for concern and some serious consideration about buying from corporations whose only quality standard is how cheaply and quickly they can move the product. Let's face it, Burpee has been distributing plants for decades without causing widespread blight.

More importantly, there is no direct accountability. When we bought our vegetable plants, we bought some from a local co-op that buys direct from a supplier. The co-op manager chose the plants and approved them himself. He didn't just take delivery of what some faceless "distribution center" sent him on a truck.

Most of our plants were purchased from members of the high school FFA program who raise the plants as part of their curriculum and a local nursery stocked and run by people down the road. The expense for the FFA plants were about the same as I would pay at a big box store. The nursery plants were, understandably, slightly more expensive, but during the purchase I learned of the particular needs of the type of plant I was attempting to grow. She didn't pretend to know about what she was selling, she knew because she was responsible for it to begin with.

While I haven't been in a Walmart in over seven years, I still go into a Target or a K-Mart and I grocery shop at a chain store. "Farmers markets" around here are tied to the local orchards. You're "buying local" only if you purchase the fruit in their orchards. Everything else come from the same source as the grocery store -- only more expensive.

It is a dilemma for those of us willing to pay a little more for local, better-quality products. And it's tough to navigate through the rhetoric of what constitutes "organic." Technically, you can slap an "organic" label on a container of salt and charge $3 extra for it, but it would still be the same salt as the regular stuff.

I continue to tilt at the windmill, though. Me and my Sancho Panza.


Darkgarden said...

I don't know what the hell you're talking about... but I'm guessing you'll be glad to hear that I just returned from our nearest Walmart where I threw all our tomatoes at the crippled greeter-guy out front. WOOT!

Sisiggy said...

I'll bet not one of them broke -- probably bounced off his head. Then he gathered them up and took them home to eat since he can't afford fresh vegetables on what he's paid at Walmart.

Don't make me take another picture of her...