Organic Farmer Tells His Side of “Getting Married to Walmart”

David Mas Masumoto is a farmer who raises peaches and grapes. His land has been organic since the 1980s. In a recent article in The Atlantic (humorously entitled, “Married to Walmart: What Was I Thinking?”), he describes his mixed feelings about selling his products to the mega-box-store chain. (This venture originated within the last ten years). He wondered, “Were our sweet, innocent organic raisins being courted by Walmart, and vice versa? Was Walmart, the slick city suitor, trying to sweep us naive country folks off our feet then suck the life out of us? Or was I an idealistic organic farmer, believing I could help hundreds of acres transition to organic, reduce pesticide use and protect the health of farmers and farm workers?”

This debate has probably gone on in the minds of countless farmers – and consumers. How do we know when good changes by a not-good corporation can be trusted? We’ve all heard that some corporations indulge in “greenwash,” which (like whitewash) covers a multitude of sins, with cheery slogans, furry animals, and green colors on the packages. And we each must decide where to situate ourselves along the spectrum of food purist to unconscious eater.

Masumoto concludes his essay with cautious optimism, saying that he hears more talk and intentions about going organic among farmers than he did formerly.

Let’s encourage them! Organic is not perfect (like cigarette smoke drifting in the wind, pesticides can drift even onto organic fields), and it’s not affordable for everyone, but it’s a start. We can help our own bodies and the planet we live on if we choose our food wisely.

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