Rhonda’s Cooking

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The verdict is still out about the Walmart Health Initiative

Posted by rhondascooking on January 22, 2011

First, I’ll start by saying that I am excited that Americans are finally taking an interest in becoming healthier by eating whole foods and increasing physical activity.  Second, thanks to First Lady Michelle and the Let’s Move Initiative, for continuing to raise awareness about the obesity epidemic and working to help promote a movement of change in the public health policies.  This week First Lady Michelle announced a new health program in conjunction with Walmart to offer more healthy food options in its stores.   According to Just-Food.com, Walmart plans to reduce sodium by 25% in a broad range of grocery items, including grain products, luncheon meats, salad dressings and frozen entrees; lower added sugars by 10% in dairy items, sauces and fruit drinks; and remove all remaining industrially-produced trans fats (partially hydrogenated fats and oils) in all packaged food products.  It was also reported that Walmart is committed to lowering the costs of fruits and vegetables through  a variety of tweaks throughout its supply chain, which will reduce the overall product costs.

photo credit: just-food.com

How do I feel about this new initiative?  In all honesty, I wish there were a ban on “meal in a box” food options that contained over 10 ingredients, preservatives, artificial flavorings and food engineered items that consumers cannot pronounce!  Though I know that this may not hold up in court, overall, I think that Walmart’s new health initiative is a good first step–but not the final solution– for many people who plan their family meals based on these packaged meals (likely due to time and costs).  The down side to this new program is that this “reformulation” will likely replace some ingredients with more  that may not be healthy for the body!  As for reducing the cost of fresh fruit and vegetables, I’m on the fence with this one because if the company lowers the price of fruit, then this will likely impact small farm suppliers.  Instead, I think that the reverse should happen; I think that Walmart should raise the prices of the unhealthy foods or stop offering sales such as burritos 5 for $1 or R amen Noodles 10 for $1!

Many times in rural areas, there aren’t any options for grocery shopping besides Walmart, so I plan to  keep watching this health initiative to see how things will progress and I encourage you to do the same!

For more information, visit the following sites:

http://www.ausfoodnews.com.au/2011/01/21/wal-mart-unveils-major-health-initiative.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/20/AR2011012005578.html

http://www.foodpolitics.com/2011/01/what-are-we-to-think-about-walmarts-healthy-food-initiatives/

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-01-20/wal-mart-says-it-plans-to-stock-healthier-more-affordable-food.html

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