Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Great Debate


Anonymous said...

Mrs. F
I live in Mid-Michigan and shop WalMart & Meijers only because they are the two big chains close to me. We don't have a TJ's or WF anywere close. I'd have to come to Ann Arbor to get to the closest one. :)

After reading your blog on organics and printing off all the info from the links you provided, I decided to go hunt out the organics yesterday. (PS~Thanks for all the info!)

Let's just say taking your husband & 2 sons at Noon on a Saturday is NOT the best idea. So, I didn't get to "look" as much as I would have liked. I will try to get out this week alone and do some research.

I will say this...we do NOT buy our produce at WalMart. Simply because the quality is just not there. It's really hit and miss with them. So I scan the produce section but normally end up going to Meijers for produce.


Mrs Furious said...

I'd love for you to scope it out for me!!! The only one near us is a good 30 minutes away and that is trek if I don't know what they've got.
If they open the one near here I'd really have to consider shopping there. I can see in the add that there prices on compact florescent bulbs is cheaper than Target.
But I'm really curious to know things like their price on a loaf of Organic bread and their price on milk. (no pressure!... I'm just curious).

Anonymous said...


I got the organic bread brand from the video...what type of milk?

Haley said...

Hey Mrs. F,

Your ethical quandry really got me thinking, so I did a bit of googlating, and discovered that the markup on goods at walmart runs between 25% and 93%. My sense is that while Walmart may not be making as large a profit on their organics as other stores, they're still making a profit, so you'd be contributing to their success on some small level even if you never bought anything else...

The green appeal is major, though, so I'm not really taking a side in this debate, just offering a thought.

emmyjw said...

HMMM. INteresting debate. I don't shop at walmart because I don't like them either even though we have one in Jackson. I know from a few times Nolan has stopped there for things that some things are crazy cheap,others about the same. Rainee has to have soymilk and only likes a few brands and I buy organic because I am worried about GMO crap and Walmart has better prices on that, but I think TJ was still cheaper for it... I guess bottom line is if you only get a few things that are not priced at a huge mark up it may even out.Also,the caliber of shopper at our Walmart always makes for entertaining people watching...

hicktowndiva said...

Mrs. F-
If I had access to a Target and a Trader Joe's, I'd never set foot in Wal-Mart again.

Unfortunately, my options are somewhat limited, here in rural southern-middle TN.

Mrs Furious said...

I have a feeling the Aunt Mille's might be the same price. Let me know if they have their own Organic line and it's price. I went to Meijer last night to do a price comparison and their Organic bread is 3.29 and they sell their own Organic milk for 5.69/gallon. I'd like to know if Walmart has their own brand of organics and their prices on that. Also just as a comparison see if they have Newman's O's (like Oreos but Paul Newman's them by the way) Whole Foods charges 3.99 for those Meijer charged 5.99!!!
Thank you thank you!! :)

damn it... I was really hoping I could screw them over ;)
Biggest buyer of transitional cotton in the world... damn you Walmart you are doing a good job of trying to suck me into your vortex!

while at Meijer last night...I went specifically for price comparison purposes... I've been really wanting to know if their Organic line was cheap or not... and the verdict is: in general you are paying at least $1-$2 more per product than at say Whole Foods except for dairy and bread. They did have their own organic soy milk FYI... although I didn't price it. And I bought their organic yogurt and it was TERRIBLE so so much for the savings.

Mrs Furious said...

Hicktown Diva,
Yes, yes, it is much easier to have ethical dilemmas when you have a choice to begin with! :)

Nutmeg said...

Mrs. F... if it makes your ethical quandry any smaller...

I doubt Walmart is being environmentally friendly out of the goodness of their black, black hearts.

It's a sales pitch.

And it's working on you.

Whenever I think that way about something, it makes me angry and then I stop listening. The reason behind what they are doing might not matter so much as the fact that they are doing it, but the fact is they are working to increase their profits (just like every other company), rather than saving the world and making an incidental profit.

I know you know this, obviously, but I just thought I'd say it.

I don't shop at Wal-mart (but I do have Target).

Mrs Furious said...

Yes... I know.... those goddamn bastards! But I am being eaten up by the organic things I know I can get there... why do they have to have biodegradable baby wipes?!?!

Why oh why won't Target step up on this one?!?

Heather said...

It's absolutely true that Wal-Mart is not pro-green, pro-environment because they deeply care about these things.

I'm in environmental PR and saw the Wal-Mart head of sustainable whatever speak at a conference 2 years ago, and he told us how the whole thing got started. PS They also called me in 2005 to see if I was interested in working in their sustainable development PR dept.

It got started because they were looking at how to reduce their operating costs, i.e. lights and electric power load on these ginormous warehouses. They started looking into ways to save energy and whaddya know, it saved money. That's their bottom line. Originally, it was to save money. But here's the thing: because of their global economic pull, they've forced all of their thousands of vendors to do the same to cut their costs, so that Wal-Mart doesn't have to pay them as much. Saves emissions, yes. Keeps costs low, yes.

I have not followed them since; nor do I ever step foot in a Wal-Mart.

To me, they represent an scary, scary marriage with China, and I just don't believe in supporting China anymore. My beloved Gap Maternity shirts are going to have to come from somewhere else. I do not want to support that country -- for their human rights, for their environmental regulations, for their disregard for human safety when it comes to products, etc. etc.

So I say keep it with Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, and sales at the other stores. Whole Foods especially deeply cares about these things. Trader Joe's too. Wal-Mart is still the devil. While I realize that not any of us are lottery winners or have trust funds, I firm ly believe in voting with your wallet. And Wal-Mart will never have my vote.

End scene. :)

katieo said...

I hate WalMart. hate it.

I know they're bad. I know it. Beyond the shady corporate everything, I hate the lighting and the blue vests and the tv's, etc.

And yet, I shop there.
Once I paid 40 cents for a can of diced tomatoes- I just couldn't go back. 40 cents. I rarely pay over 11 cents an ounce for cereal. The produce is hit and miss, but when it's a "hit," I really end up saving a TON.

We've cut our grocery bill every month by at least $200. TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS. So I know I may come across as only caring about the money, but I just look at it like: This is what we have to do right now. Hopefully we won't always need to shop there, but right now, it's really helping us get on our feet.

The environmental initiatives?I think it's good they're doing them and probably scoring them some good press but I don't think it's because they're socially conscious.

Mrs Furious said...

very dramatic I love it ;)

P.S. re:China... it might have been in my other video but TJs doesn't carry ANY product from China anymore... pulled them all. I'm not sure about Whole Foods I'm going to investigate when I go tomorrow (recently not the case and a fair amount of their organic products were being manufactured there). Plus even with TJs pulling items they can't control all the ingredients and China is the leading distributer for things like citric acid and APPLES!

Yes I'm looking at going all 2nd hand for the girls (most eco-friendly of all) and since Mr F& I wear so few clothes trying to switch to bamboo... it may take a few years....

Mrs Furious said...

I guess I should say that I have no doubts that Walmart is milking their environmental progressiveness for all its worth. Never once thought they suddenly grew a conscious...
Of course it makes perfect sense that they're doing it to save themselves money and it coincidentally saves the Earth.

I just still do want cheap organic food & clothes.... and those damn biodegradable wipes....

Mrs Furious said...

40 cents?! It's hard to walk away from practically free!!

Amy said...

Another one of my hot-button issues Mrs. F. How do you do it? ;)

I can not shop at Wal-Mart, I can not stand giving my money to that company. It's about the way they pay their workers, the way they kill small towns, the way they make it so there are practically no choices for consumers in the marketplace, and the way they've been responsible for adding mountains of worthless junk into the lives and homes of people who don't need it.

I will gladly spend more of our hard-earned money on a locally-owned business. I do shop at Target too, but it is hard to get all of the essentials at these smaller stores.

What do you think of the People's Food Co-op? Seems pretty reasonable to me even from 30 miles away. All of the choices you have make me so jealous.

G in Berlin said...

Green Oak Township
(Distance: 15.5 miles)
6700 Whitmore Lake Rd
Brighton, Michigan
Livonia II
(Distance: 19.2 miles)
20000 Haggerty Rd
Livonia, Michigan
These are Costco's within 20 miles of Ann Arbor. They pay their people well, they carry lots of organic and green items, their workers have health care, their products are extremely higth quality (including wet wipes -their brand- that I carry to Europe). Their food is high quality and fabulously cheap. the bread is made there, great, and can be frozed and then rebakes...

I really miss Costco. You just need to have a chest freezer to make this as effective as possible.Costco does carry not only their own (wins in Consumer reports) brands, but also top brands. Except for Pampers diapers. Sams carries those at 50% off what Walmart carries them, btw.

G in Berlin said...

Oh, and in NY, TJs beats Costco on organic milk prices, but that's it.

Jennifer said...

Hey Mrs. F. I just wanted to say first off, that EVERY TIME I watch one of your videos at home my son says that you are evil. lol. I happened to watch a video once where you said that you don't let your kids watch tv and my son went crazy. So as I was watching this video, my son started to chant she's evil, she's evil, she's evil. I laughed my ass off! Then, he heard one of your daughters speak on the video and he was like .. awww, she sounds so cute! How could she not let her watch tv? OMG!

Anyway .. WalMart is usually not an issue for me. The closest one is like 30 minutes away.

Mr Furious said...

since Mr F& I wear so few clothes

LOL! Not sure that came out the way you meant it!

Mrs Furious said...

LOL... well you can tell your son that while on break last week I let her watch plenty of TV. I think in the background of this one you can even hear her ask if she can watch Jon & Kate after I mentioned it... because she watched nearly every episode this week!

People's Food Co-op... I don't really have a feeling one way or the other. They carry the same name brands as Whole Foods but don't carry enough stuff to replace them for me. I'll stop in there if we're at the farmer's market sometimes but don't ever do a full shop. I'll check it out next time and re-price stuff. I'm not a member so I don't get the discount.

G in Berlin,
Ah... unfortunately those 20 miles are closer to 40 minutes. Doable on a weekend but not for a regular trip since Kid's preschool is only 3 hours start to finish. It is worth an exploratory visit though. And I don't have a chest freezer (but you can get one there!) and that would be imperative.
TJs does have cheaper milk than what I'm buying here too... I'm just still torn about supporting the local diary...

Mr F,
I think they now the truth about us in that department... not so sure it required a clarification ;)

Julie said...

Ok, you were so funny in the video..."making fun of him" with regard to getting Mr. F to lose weight.

I used to go to Walmart to get baby wipes and diapers...and then get sucked in to buying stuff there because it was so cheap. It always made me feel so depressed to be in that store though...I was always the most attractive person in the store (seriously and I don't mean it in a bragging way.) Plus, I remember while waiting in these ridiculously long and slow lines at the cashier that I would just mope to myself, "So this is what my life has turned "night out" is at frickin' walmart."

But I am fortunate to have other options of places to shop (NO Whole Foods near me though....grrrr.) And Target does carry organic snacks for the kids....Mrs F, I wish I could send you Newman O's at 2.49 and Annie's bunny crackers for $1.99...I can't buy the Newman O's anymore. I eat them all in a very short time period. My kids get one cookie and I get the other 38.

Any feelings on BJ's? We have a membership through my husband's work. Is that a bad company?

Julie said...

Ok, bamboo clothes? Please tell more on that. Is that the same as hemp clothes?

Heather said...

Yeah, we're doing a second-hand baby shower. I don't believe in buying all new crap (though the sale at Mini-Boden is so tempting), especially when it comes to toys and clothes that The Wee will outgrow in a milisecond. We're toying with buying a new stroller and making that our one BIG thing.

Robin said...

LOL, I have tried making fun of my husband to get him to lose weight. It hasn't worked for me either!

I hate, hate, hate Wal-Mart. And not for any social resposibility issue (although that certainly doesn't help.) It is just gross, and dirty, and the people...ugh. They are building a new one pretty close to me, and I will probably check it out. The area they are building it is very nice, so I am thinking the clientele will not be so...dirty? I am interested to know what you decide.

I hear you about going to multiple stores. I have to. At one store, the Kashi waffles are $3.50, and a quart of organic tomato soup is $2.00 while at Target, the Kashi waffles are $1.50 and 1/2 quart of the same organic soup is $2.50!!! Those are just a couple of examples. There are tons of things that have a huge price difference which makes it worth going to both places.

BTW, at my Target yesterday, I saw a reusable tote bag that looked like it was made of the regular Target plastic bags. It was pretty cute. Then they had a small reusable bag that folds up and zips up into a cute little wallet size pouch. It was made of that heavy, paper kind of material? I am sticking with my baggus because they will hold 25 pounds of stuff. Those little ones from Target didn't seem that strong. Although they were cute!

Mrs Furious said...

if it helps you with your resolve my Boden stuff is ALL made in China.

Mrs Furious said...

oh Bamboo... super soft.. softer than cotton, naturally antibacterial and UV protective. Requires NO pesticides to grow, sustainable, and not necessarily expensive. Made in USA to boot!

Google it you'll find many resources. I was at Bamboosa last night.

Mrs Furious said...

".I was always the most attractive person in the store "
LOL!!! I do know what you mean though :)

Newman's Os for 1.99!!! Damn it!! I just got them on sale for 3.29 and that is a GOOD deal for me.

BJs is East Coast. They had 'em in the NYC area but I don't have one here. Maybe someone will chime in.

Yes! I saw the Target bags made of Target bags and although I like the idea, and they are cute, I would feel weird using them at a different store. Plus I agree with you I want to be sure they'll hold and I'm not so sure they will and they were like $6 at mine.
Am I the only freak who thinks that way?! I see people at Whole Foods with Trader Joe's bags and think "shhh don't let anyone see..." I don't know... I really am a freak...

Robin said...

No, no, you aren't the only one! That is why I am getting generic, no label reusable bags. I would feel completely weird bringing my Target bags into my grocery store and vice-versa. And I am not about to try to keep up with store specific bags.

Heather said...

Mini-boden: damn. That lil strawberry dress calls to me. Damn damn.

Julie said...

I have Whole Foods bags that I use in other stores...or should I say that I drive around with in my car. I almost always forget to bring them in...

John Howard said...

I shop at Wal-Mart all the time. I really can't get motivated to research the failings of every store I shop at. I hear a lot about Wal-Mart treating their workers like crap, but I don't really know how much of it is true and how much is people just trying to pick on the biggest target, or how much different it is at their competitors. And if I was going to boycott Wal-Mart for these things, I really feel like I'd have to do a lot of research and weigh all the pros and cons as a whole. Since I just don't have the energy to do that, I just worry more about price and convenience and Wal-Mart is easily the top in those categories for me.

I don't mean to sound like a Wal-Mart apologist, but I do get tired of some of the silly arguments I hear against them. For example, I'm not sure why everyone is so hung up on Wal-Mart's motives for their eco-friendly initiatives. I'm not sure why their motives really matter. And actually, if they can prove to people that it's actually cheaper and easier to do things the right way, then so much the better. And if they can use their influence over their vendors to push the same kinds of things in other companies, that's great.

Of course, having said all that, I once went to a Wal-Mart in Orlando, and if that had been the only one I had ever been in, I doubt I would ever go back to one again. It was dirty, disgusting, cluttered, overly-crowded, just a big mess. Luckily, the Wal-Marts that I go to regularly aren't at all like that.

K8teebug said...

I second the suggestion to shop at Costco. They have a pretty good selection of organic produce, and other items (organic soy milk, chicken broth, etc). I refer you to this article.

Also, Target doesn't really pay their workers a fair wage, and they're not that much better than Wal-Mart. Sad, but true.

Mrs Furious said...

"Target doesn't really pay their workers a fair wage"
seriously?!?! say it ain't so! is that in the article? I'm off to go read it.
Jesus Christ what will I do without my Target?!

thanks for the comment :)

Mrs Furious said...

Okay I actually watched a whole in depth interview about Costco once and they're a great company.
But what do you know about Target in particular? I know they don't pay Costco's wages... heck with a Master's degree I wasn't making any more than that! But I'm pretty sure they start you out at $9/hr here at our store.

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