This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes, in which we talk about important issues related to food production.
The drought was easily the biggest story on the farm beat in 2012. But this past year, many of the stories filed by Harvest Public Media reporters focused on food politics and the divide between large industry groups and proponents of organic, sustainable and local foods.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has pleaded guilty in Missouri to violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act by failing to properly handle pesticides that had been returned by customers at its stores across the country.
Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 7:21 am
When Wal-Mart calls, Herman Farris always finds whatever the retailer wants, even if it's yucca root in the dead of winter. Farris is a produce broker in Columbia, Mo., who has been buying for Wal-Mart from auctions and farms since the company began carrying fruits and vegetables in the early 1990s.
During the summer and fall, nearly everything Farris delivers is grown in Missouri. That's Wal-Mart's definition of "local" — produce grown and sold in the same state. In winter, it's a bit tougher to source locally.
The lingering drought continues to keep the Mississippi River at historically low levels. But now the Army Corps of Engineers says the river will likely stay open for transportation at least through this month. But many grain and energy industries that send products up and down the river aren’t yet breathing a sigh of relief. Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports from the Corn Belt where a lot of grain begin its journey south down the Mississippi.
Right now, Missouri Vegetable Farm located 70 miles south of St. Louis doesn’t have anything in its fields. But come summer and fall, peppers, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, sweet corn and pumpkins will be harvested and sold at Wal-Mart.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media
Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, is muscling in on one of the fastest growing segments of American agriculture: local food.
Wal-Mart says 11 percent of the produce sold in its stores nationwide comes from local farms, a large increase from the mere 4 percent it sold two years ago when the chain announced its intention to step up local sourcing as part of a larger sustainability platform and a commitment to buy from small businesses.