Housing Complex

Walmart Gets High Level Endorsement

Hours before a handful of protesters picketed outside Ward 4 Walmart developer Dick Knapp's house, the supercompany received a stamp of approval from the highest hand in the land: Michelle Obama, in her new role as the nation's healthy food guru. She appeared at THEARC in Congress Heights yesterday for the launch of Walmart's nationwide initiative to reduce sugar and sodium in their house brand foods, as well as eliminate the cost premium for healthier options, like whole grains.

The announcement is the result of a year of discussions with the White House, and administration officials stood solidly behind it.

“We’re not just aligning ourselves with one company; we’re aligning ourselves with people who are stepping up as leaders to take this country to a healthier place,” White House chef Sam Kass told the New York Times.

Of course, there seemed to be not a whiff of recognition of how conflicted D.C. residents have been over the impending presence of Walmart in their own city. Despite the undoubtedly welcome addition of affordable, healthy food, the influence of a Walmart on the local business community is more ambiguous, the labor track record more spotty. In this regard, Walmart is like China: In front of cameras, you have to be polite and celebrate successes, while pressuring them behind closed doors on thornier issues (though in this regard, Barack beat out Michelle this week, with a public rap on China's human rights record). Notably, however, the White House isn't going big with the publicity on this one–no photos from the event have shown up on Whitehouse.gov, and there's no mention of the Walmart partnership on Michelle's Let's Move initiative website.

Still, at least one District foodie was sorely disillousioned by Michelle's decision. "Wal-Mart using #ShockDoctrine to enter DC market," tweeted Busboys and Poets owner Andy Shallal, who leads Think Local First D.C. "Their PR machine is amazing – Michelle Obama!? What next Jesus!?"

Photo from Walmart's Facebook page.

  • Bob See

    Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

  • Rick Mangus

    This is good, the First Lady is very pro-active in her program to get kids to eat healthy and smart and it's nice to see a big company like Walmart getting involved.

    Oh by the way what happen to the big anti-Walmart protest from yeasterday by the professional union stooges? I'll tell you NOTHING! Get out of my city, you don't even live here!

  • Connor

    This plays in really well to U.S.PIRG's new healthy food campaign to end subsidies for unhealthy foods.

  • Jon Bon Jovi

    I agree Rick. Many of these loud mouth losers don't live in DC. They protesting at the Developers home. Can you believe this?

    http://dcist.com/2011/01/on_the_same_day_that.php

  • Zachary Orion

    Walmart and the government agenda is to dominate the food market. The timing is key here, because if they can push other food suppliers and growers out of the market and take it over, then they can control food supply once the dollar collapses (which its scheduled to 30-50% by the end of 2011, and completely gone by 2012.) Do not shop at Walmart, and shock up for 6 months to a year’s supply of food now while prices are low. This can be slowed or stopped if enough people wake up.
    But company’s like Walmart and Monsanto are teaming up with a government intending on the dollar going bad, and people needing food. When the dollar collapses, food prices soar, and people are desperate. Walmart draws you in with low prices, but there is no promise that they won’t change their policies once crap hits the fan. This is a plan for control, with intentions of Eugenics/sterilization, food monopoly etc. You have been warned. Go to infowars.com and truly educate yourself! Get involved, this is serious.

  • Deborah Menkart

    I live in DC (in fact grew up here) and do NOT want Walmart in my home town. There is a very high cost to the low prices of Walmart, a high cost that will have a long term, negative effect on the residents. Many thanks to Andy Shallal for his comment.

  • http://jaybanks.ca Jay Banks

    It seems like a bold experiment aimed at making the whole nation more healthy which is positive but I have noticed a part of this scheme which is a five year plan to get rid of hydrogenated fats and I think this is quite funny. I hope they can do it much sooner.

  • Rick Mangus

    'Deborah Menkart', what cost? We all would like to know!

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  • Ward 4 Resident

    Ignorant comments by right wing propagandists notwithstanding, many of us who live in DC object to Walmart's presence in our community, for a host of reasons. Most large corporations today are predatory, aided and abetted by lax or nonexistent government regulation and public apathy. But Walmart holds the dubious distinction of being a leader in this regard. Somehow, "unions" are the favorite target of pejorative comments from the right - but if one digs a little deeper, one finds that a wide range of people from unions to small business (who are aften nonuinion) to women's rights advocates to committed environmentalists (not the sellouts who get seduced by Walmart's greenwashing) - in other words, a truly diverse coalition - object to Walmart's destructive business practices. So don't make sweeping generalizations that "we don't even live in DC" or that every single one of us are "union people".

    And yes, many of us also object to the business practices of Target, and Home Depot, and Monsanto, and Kraft, and General Mills, and Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America, and many other megacorporations. So don't turn around and claim that we are picking on Walmart alone.

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