Did Walmart buy urban agriculture group’s silence?
By Michele Simon
Sept. 19, 2011
Last week, retail behemoth Walmart announced a $1.01 million donation to Milwaukee-based Growing Power, a well-known urban farming nonprofit, whose founder Will Allen has gained many accolades for his hard work to bring local, healthy food to low-income areas.
So far the online debate over Growing Power taking this funding is predictable: Some defend it for pragmatic reasons, while others deplore the move, either because they don’t like this particular company or they think all corporate money is evil. However, this donation cannot be viewed in such a narrow context. There is a pattern here that spans decades. By partnering with a group that could otherwise be one of its staunchest critics, Walmart is taking a page right out of the Big Tobacco playbook: buying silence.
A note from Will on corporations and the Good Food Revolution
By Growing Power on Thursday, September 8, 2011
I appreciate that our friends have shared their honest opinions and feelings with us. I’d like to take this opportunity to share my position on the role that corporations can play in the Good Food Revolution.
The First Lady has brought national attention to our country’s poor health, poor eating habits and poor food quality with her “Let’s Move” program. Now that this issue is in the national spotlight, we are using the momentum she’s created to take the next steps forward in improving overall food quality and quality of life for all people. We, as a society, can no longer refuse to invite big corporations to the table of the Good Food Revolution. Poverty, foodlessness, joblessness: these are problems we all face. They are not only the problems of the poor or of the urban – they are everyone’s problems.
Wal-mart is the world’s largest distributor of food – there is no one better positioned to bring high-quality, locally grown food into urban food deserts and fast-food swamps. We can no longer be so idealistic that we hurt the very people we’re trying to help. Keeping groups that have the money and the power to be a significant part of the solution away from the Good Food Revolution will not serve us. At the same time, by accepting grants like these we retain the power for how corporate money is spent, and the grassroots movement stays grassroots.
Thank you for your continued support of the Good Food Revolution, and please keep your eyes open for more announcements from me and Growing Power. This is an exciting time to change the world.