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Editorial: The uneasy steps around Wal-Mart's grocery


First we went to Wal-Mart to buy zebra fish, since it was more convenient than PetSmart, where the employees snubbed us and sold our fish to other customers. Then we went to refill our 4-litre jugs of water. It was closer than the Co-op. Then we went to Wal-Mart for the antihistamines and calcium supplements, since it was cheaper than either of the grocery stores. But we steered clear of the grocery section. Now even that. Too late. I felt exceedingly uneasy. Concerned about the relative quality of the products - but the same goods were in our cart as would be in our cart at some other chain store. Newman's Own organic salad, which generates donations to charity. Local Italian bread. Organic tomato sauce and cereal. All of it significantly cheaper than at either of the chain grocery stores, and all of it appearing to be in equivalently good condition.

Did I trust the other grocers more? Why? I did, I realized, trust them more, but the more I thought about it the more it seemed irrational. I was mistrusting Wal-Mart, not trusting them. Did I mistrust Wal-Mart enough to go elsewhere (costing time and gas) and pay more for the same stuff? Well, no.

"I've set a foot on the path to hell," I said. "I feel uneasy."

And I still do. The green lifestyle was largely thrust upon me; I was raised this way and rebelled against it, then returned when I found out it would improve my serious and lifelong disabilities. Such disabilities put me on a tight budget, and organic living is a non-trivial expense. Since I went organic I became a very careful shopper (though I was always practical) and a serious bargain-hunter by necessity. Wal-Mart is affordable, nearby, and keeps woefully convenient always-open doors. There's nothing to be done; I have no viable alternative to shopping there, so long as my budget is so tight. But, well...

I do want to apologize to the Honest Weight Co-op for shopping at Wal-Mart instead. In a perfect world - in a perfect world all food would be organic so this would be moot. What I mean is, if I had a perfect life, I would be able to vote with my dollars. In a sense I am; I'm voting for my own health. But as with any vote, I wish I was casting it for a better candidate. I wish I wasn't having to choose between my own well-being and everyone's. [GT]

(PS: And stop thinking I'm American; I'm as Commonwealth as the Queen).

October 2, 2006 in Op-Ed | Permalink


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