So, according to their website Wal-Mart is jumping on the “locally grown produce” wagon. Shopping at Wal-Mart is sometimes unavoidable so I wanted to see just what kind of local produce you could find there. I visited a few different Wal-marts just to get a good perspective: The Super Center on McCain in North Little Rock as well as the Neighborhood Market and the Super Center both on Hwy 107 in Sherwood. Walking into the McCain Super Center I had reason to be hopeful. After all, Wal-Mart is an Arkansas business. What better place to implement their new plan than a Super Center in their home state? Upon entering I was excited to see big farmer’s-market-type bins of corn and squash. Just to be sure, I inquired about the bins. According to the employee I asked, neither the corn nor the squash in those particular bins were grown in Arkansas. In fact, on my first visit to this location the only Arkansas products I saw were tomatoes. There were some blueberries that were packaged in Arkansas, but of course that does not mean that they were grown here. Someone who worked there did tell me that they have or have had Arkansas watermelons, cantaloupes, squash, corn, and tomatoes. Too bad, I didn’t see any, except for the tomatoes but it did give me an excuse to check back. A few days later, I visited the same location and found that they had added Arkansas cantaloupes and yellow squash. However, the squash was not marked as local and I had to ask someone to find out.
Next, I went to the Neighborhood Market on Highway 107 in Sherwood. This location was a little better. They did have Arkansas tomatoes, cantaloupes, and watermelons. All were clearly marked as having been grown in Arkansas. An employee told me that the squash, the collard greens, and the parsley were local, too, but they were not marked as such. Why wouldn’t they be?
Nearby, at the other Super Center on Hwy 107, I found Arkansas peaches. They also had Arkansas watermelons, cantaloupes, and tomatoes, but you kind of had to search them out.
I think we can all applaud Wal-Mart for at least taking a step in this direction. All of these stores carried some Arkansas items and that’s a good start. Change never happens overnight.