TristanB50 – Purposeful Summaries

Is Walmart Really Going Organic and Local?

It seems counterintuitive that Walmart is the largest supplier of organic food in the country. However, costs of cross country food transportation and an increased demand for organic food has lead to the company investing in more localized suppliers.

The superstore is the dominant provider of groceries in the country, supplying shoppers with 18% of their annual grocery purchases. Its size makes it the most popular grocery store for shoppers seeking organic food. For example, Walmart is the countries largest supplier of organic milk. But how did it get like this? Rising diesel prices in the early 2000’s pushed the company to seek local alternatives, slashing their shipping costs tremendously. In the 2010s, the company proposed two goals to reach by 2015. First, Walmart pledged organic produce would make up 9% of their overall fruits and veggies by the end of the year. Second, they aimed to sell $1 billion of produce supplied from smaller scale farms nearby their stores.

While it may seem like this evidence would make that Walmarts is some sort of beacon of environmentalism, the companies practices are not as “organic” in actuality. Walmart’s definition of organic includes any product that is bought in-state, regardless of the size of the sellers operation. In reality, it seems the company is merely cutting down on transportation costs by buying from same-state industrial farms, and printing a green label on it to give organic-shoppers something to look for. While the company did experiment with buying local fruits and vegetables, it’s shear size caused the supply to fall short of their demand. Right now, the company mostly sells organic milk and baby food, both non produce items. Overall, Walmarts push to sell more organic seems admirable, but ultimately misleading.

The Curse of Oil Riches

It seems counterintuitive that countries abundant in oil end up suffering from it. What seems like having Midas’ touch, in reality sews unemployment, corruption, international conflicts, and overall destabilization.

Striking oil creates a dependence on not only the resource itself, but also the government that plans the resource use. This reliance brews corruption as public officials are bribed by oil barons, and ultimately a more authoritative state for employees to live under. Governments will often further their power under the guise of lower taxes, leading to less accountability. Speaking of working people, oil sales end up outcompeting other exports within the given country, leading to businesses closing down and unemployment. 

If that weren’t bad enough, nations where oil sales makeup ⅓ or more of the given GDP become a target for conflict or at worst, invasion. Statistically, a country with an oil industry of that caliber is 21% more likely to be invaded than countries that don’t export oil. 

Many developing countries use oil to kickstart their economy, but ultimately end up having extremely corrupt governments. Some examples of this are Venezuela, Libya, Nigeria, Angola, Chad, and Equatorial Guinea. Because the commodity creates so many issues for the general public, many governments have taken steps to give the oil money back to the people. A positive example of oil exports being implemented into society beneficially is in Alaska, where a quarter of annual profits is invested, giving it’s residents a share of the dividend. However, this does not solve the issue of corruption, as no money is put to social programs, ultimately making the citizens dependant on private utilities. This cash-payout approach seems to be more beneficial in developing countries where social infrastructure programs cannot yet be implemented. Many transitional economies like India or Mexico require citizens to meet certain standards to receive their payment, using ID’s for the transfer of money. 

This economic structure has created new legislation, such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, requiring oil companies and governments to share their transaction receipts. However, the issue of corruption still towers over these approaches in some countries, eliminating the push for legislation in the first place. Overall, it seems that the oil is not necessarily the problem in these scenarios, but the special interest groups that spring up after it is discovered.

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1 Response to TristanB50 – Purposeful Summaries

  1. davidbdale says:

    The quality of your analysis is quite high, or at least convincing-sounding, Tristan! 🙂

    Ironically, the length of your Summaries detracts from their effectiveness since, in your effort to be fair to all the issues the sources raise, you lose your sharp angle and end up doing more Summarizing than Purpose-serving.


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