Wednesday, March 26th, 2008
Just finished reading a borrowed copy of Barbara Ehrenreich’s nearly decade-old book Nickel and Dimed, about the realities of the American working poor, including a section where she worked as a $7 an hour Walmart employee in Minneapolis…and was hard-pressed to find affordable rental housing that microscopic a wage could support.
So it was in that context (and when I think of Walmart, most of my thoughts are along the lines of: Walmart = evil) that I came across this surprising report that would earn a ‘breaking news’ from me, were I in charge of CNN’s Situation Room:
Giant food retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced that its store brand milk in the United States will now come exclusively from cows not treated with artificial growth hormones.
Wow. And then I read further on down the page:
Grocery chain Kroger Co., with 2,500 stores in the U.S., began last month selling only milk produced without the use of hormones like recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST). Safeway Inc., with more than 1,700 stores, has switched its in-store brands to non-rBST milk, though it also sells other brands produced from cows given the hormone. And starting in January, Starbucks Corp. has only used non-rBST milk in its stores.
This was one of the main reasons we had walked away from Kroger as any regular supplier of staples like milk and eggs…milk’s not a bargain if you don’t want what’s in it…and folks for whom milk of any kind is a big-dollar purchase are certainly not in a position to choose stuff that may be better for them.
And, as a bit of a rebuke to big corporate PR firms out there, I hadn’t heard Kroger had made any kind of switch…I guess I’ll have to go down to the Wino Kroger (in Atlanta, we’ve given our Krogers various neighborhood-appropriate names, starting with the immortal Disco Kroger in Buckhead) and see for myself this is the case. After all, I don’t want Kroger visits just to be about buying Tab three times a year.
It sounds like they simply heard the drumbeat of a zillion consumers’ demands, or talied the votes-with-their-pocketbooks numbers, or something. At any rate, it’s hard not to cheer on the end result.
By the way, Ehrenreich’s blog has a bunch of thought-provoking fomentations, including her discussion of a Kathryn Joyce and Jeff Sharlet piece in the September 2007 Mother Jones where she wonders whether Hillary’s pastor problem might be worse than Barack’s. The Joyce/Harlet piece says:
Through all of her years in Washington, Clinton has been an active participant in conservative Bible study and prayer circles that are part of a secretive Capitol Hill group known as the Fellowship.
And one final Ehrenreich writing: Welcome to Cancerland is her examination of the “marketplace” that has sprung up around breast cancer “awareness,” and it’s written in the context of her own breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.