This head of lettuce was purchased at Walmart. It was grown by Tanimura and Antle Farms and is one of a small selection of local foods the mega-chain now sells. There's a display by the front door that highlights Walmart's new local-food program which, as far as I could tell, included two items grown by farmers somewhere in or near Arizona.
Some thoughts: This could be the first part of the program, and if people embrace it perhaps Walmart will make more of an effort to support local farmers. Or this could be what one could call "local-washing," nothing more than a marketing ploy that makes the megastore look like it gives a shit about the local economy/farmers.
It should also be pointed out that this lettuce is actually produced in Salinas, Calif., and shipped to Tucson from Yuma. How local is that? Not very.
Ever since I wrote a blog about how conflicted I am over the local food movement it has been on my mind constantly. I've gotten e-mails from some who couldn't believe I would be so critical; others said I pointed out something they identified with. I remain conflicted. Some of the hardest working and most-intelligent people I know are involved in the local-food thing, yet I am sort of poor and, as you can see, sometimes shop at Walmart to stretch my pathetic paycheck out a bit.
So I ask all the local food advocates out there: Is Walmart less evil now that I can buy local lettuce there?