Walmart Has An Incredibly Generous View Of What "Locally Grown" Means

Back in Oct. 2010, Walmart vowed to double the amount of locally grown produce it sells at its stores by 2015. But judging by these bags of “Locally Grown” apples, the retail behemoth appears to be embracing a very global view of the term “local.”

Consumerist reader Bob was shopping at his nearby Walmart in Washington state and decided to have a look-see at the apple selection as it’s about time for the tasty fruits to be harvested. That’s when some Fuji apples caught his eye.

“I noticed the ‘Locally Grown’ sign and was curious how ‘local’ they really were,” he writes. “That’s when I discovered they were imported from Chile. Not so local, not so fresh.”

Walmart HQ has previously defined local as meaning produce that is grown and sold within the same state, so we’re assuming this an employee error and not an attempt by Big W to redefine its terms.

But at the very least, it’s a reminder to shoppers who want to buy locally grown produce that the tag on the shelf is not always an accurate indicator of what you’re buying.

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  1. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    It seems more a disconnect between left and right hands due to lack of proper training.

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      Wow, you got all of that from an erroneous sign? Right down to the improper training? Huh. I had a few theories: customer moved the sign, sign people forgot to change the sign because they ran out of time, sign people forgot to change the sign because they didn’t give a darn (usually the floor staff has to try to “set” the next week’s ad while they do their other work, stocking crew put the wrong apples in the wrong place, someone just plain hoped they could trick a few customers (least likely), corporate printed the sign wrong and it was all they had so they used it…

      I’m really amazed that you figured it out so easily!

      • susan says:

        “Locally Grown” signs are all over our Walmart produce department in middle Georgia, and the fruits and vegetables are grown a thousand miles away. We have an excellent produce manager, and these are just the signs they are given to display. I’ve learned to ignore everything but the price signs there.

      • Martha Gail says:

        Yeah, I bet they sold out of whatever apples went there and an employee flexed in another type of apple without changing the signage. It’s a matter of training, which, come on, Walmart is not known for.

  2. HomerSimpson says:

    Cue the cries of “They’re still apples fer crissakes, stop whining” in 3…2…1…

    • SpeakR40Dead says:

      Who knows if they are ‘real’ apples? Don’t they already sell genetically modified corn without labeling it as such? They just want the cheapest foods and they “ain’t afraid to show it.”

      • wildcardjack says:

        Nobody is genetically modifying apples. They get enough out of cloning techniques as is.

      • hobochangbar says:

        And if they were grown in USA we wouldn’t know either because we do not restrict GMO crops or require labeling of GMO foods. And Monsanto & others have spent >$25 million in California alone trying to ensure they do NOT have to tell us how the food was made.

        • The Unincorporated Man says:

          I just started buying my meat, dairy and produce at thhe Whole Foods near me with my wife being preggo. Hella expensive, but I’m feeling a bit better knowing my daughter may have the chance to not hit puberty at 8 from hormones or getting jacked up from GMO’s

  3. raydeebug says:

    Hey, at least they’re grown on Earth. I don’t want no low-grav Martian apples taking over my local grocery store.

    Why not?

    1: The interplanetary subsidies really just create more costs in space pollution and radiation exposure-related health issues.
    2: The little tripods, while adorable, mean the dang things keep getting out of the fruit bowl and scaring the cats.

    • Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

      Speaking of cost, during the March 3 opposition, Mars was 62.6 million miles from Earth. With the rising cost of fuel…

    • AcctbyDay says:

      I’m sick and tired of my interplanetary tax dollars going to waste subsidizing those Martian farmers!

    • Wonko the Sane says:

      Your second point is an example of the cultural imperialism that has engendered such animosity among the Martians. Our society may expect produce that doesn’t spout tripods, scare domesticated pets, and attempt to enslave humanity but what right do we have to impose that expectation on the hard-working farmers of Mars?

      I suggest that we welcome our new apple overlords as a gesture of goodwill and tolerance.

      • Snowblind says:

        We can send him Bill Clinton as ambassador, as Chris Matthews pointed out last night:

        “If Clinton landed on Mars, he would know how to do it with them. He would know how to reproduce. He would know everything. He’d just instinctively know. How to talk to people. He’d be laughing in about five minutes.”

        That’s right… Bill Clinton would f*ck the Martian apple overloards for us!

        • George4478 says:

          *points finger at camera, looking indignant*
          “I did not have sex with that wo….that wo…, uh, that thing over there!”

          • raydeebug says:

            Clinton: He groks the Martian Apple Syndicate.

          • Charles Edward Winthrop III, Esquire, Investigator of the Unknown Music says:

            But he did make out with the female from the radiator planet!

            • Nighthawke says:

              I wonder how that went. Hot n Steamy with lots of pressure no doubt. Did they go 50/50 or straight? Did they overflow the bottle? Did his safety pop?

      • AcctbyDay says:

        My gesture involves peanut butter and a paring knife.

        Perhaps I ought not be the cultural attache on this venture?

      • Nighthawke says:

        Just make sure that you keep a copy of Slim Whitman’s music handy….

    • MathMan aka Random Talker says:

      Martian Apples have tripods?

    • wombats lives in [redacted] says:

      damn martian farmers, dey took our jobs!

    • crispyduck13 says:

      This made my day, thank you!

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      Exactly. WalMart is obviously embracing a more “small world” global-culture philosophy! Good for them!

  4. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    But the bag is labeled “The Consumerist” so it must contain truthiness.

  5. nugatory says:

    I’d wager that there were local fuji apples here, but the latest delivery obviously was not local and either someone forgot to remove the locally grown sign,or was simply lazy.

  6. momoftwokids says:

    This was a very stupid mistake to make in Washington state, land of apples, where we take pride in our pome fruits very seriously. It’s like corn in Iowa or peaches in Georgia.

  7. Snowblind says:

    Reminds me of the Mel Brooks gag:

    “But he is world famous in Poland!”

  8. TheOnlyBob says:

    So Fuji Apples, imported from Chile sold in Washington state from a store based out of Arkansas

  9. kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

    Chile, Washington. It’s a surburb of Seattle.

    :)

  10. Jane_Gage says:

    From your cozy NAFTA community.

  11. acw123 says:

    Apples make apple juice. Apple juice makes farts. Farts make skid marks 26.967% of the time. Therefore walmart made me poop my pants.

  12. keep the blinders on says:

    Well, uh, I just read a study that says locally-grown food has the the same nutritional content as food from other hemispheres, so what’s the big deal?

  13. Thnaggle Tooph says:

    As a farmer, I think this is goofy. I don’t know a single farmer that’s going to haul their crops to Walmart. There are farmers markets around here every Saturday if you want to buy local, up until November. I doubt they’ll sell sweet corn @ 6 ears for a $1 Does Walmart have to ruin everything?

    • acw123 says:

      It is sort of sad…how many people out there don’t know what a tomato is really supposed to taste ike because they have never had one that didn’t sit on a truck for a week or two after being mass produced. The flavor is there in supermarket produce, but so much weaker. It is like drinking a shot of jack daniels…or drinking a gallon of water with a shot of jack daniels mixed in. the flavor is recognizable as the same thing, but thats about it. I don’t think you have much to worry about…

      • raydeebug says:

        The funny thing is, as a child I learned that I can’t stand tomatoes upon attempting to eat a garden-grown one. My tongue says “that’s poison!”

      • elangomatt says:

        I think tomatoes are the poster child of what is wrong with having all produce available all year wrong. For years I haven’t really cared much for fresh tomatoes. I figured that my tastes had changed or something. Now I get my tomatoes from the farmers market during the summer and they taste amazing! I pretty much won’t eat a tomato anymore unless it is from the farmers market.

      • MuleHeadJoe says:

        How many people think that “fresh” vegetables are supposed to taste like dirt and have worms? Sorry pal … my local greengrocer provides far superior produce that what I can find at the roadside stands – which is primarily the same as what the local farmers markets sell. See, I don’t live in a rural community, there are no actual farms within hours drive time, I live in a typical California suburban area (what most Easterners call ‘sprawl’). Around here most of the ‘farmers market’ and roadside stand produce is grown in what real farmers would consider to be a hobby garden. There are no farms in cities. Most people live in cities. Ergo, most people do NOT have access to truly fresh farm grown food. Beyond that … just cuz you like your veggies with dirt and worms doesn’t mean I have to like it that way. Even tho you don’t like the notion, the fact is that the produce sold in the supermarket was grown on real actual farms.

        • who? says:

          You must be going to the wrong farmer’s market or something. There are a ton of farms in Southern California that grow very good produce, and sell at local farmers’ markets. But whatever. Believe what you want.

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      My local Tops grocery store has farmers haul their crops to the store in-season. So does Wegmans. I’m in a city, not out in the boonies. It does happen. And I’m glad it does, because I don’t own a car and can’t take advantage of the farmer’s markets. I do, however, live on a bus route that is served by a kick-ass transit system. So local produce, low carbon footprint. I am happy to have both. (I am NOT saying people who own cars and drive to farmer’s markets are bad people. Just needed to get that out of the way.)

    • fleef says:

      yes, yes they do. The last time I shopped at Walmart I brought home a bag of rotten oranges (the mold was hidden on the side of the oranges you couldn’t see through the bag) sometimes I wonder if Walmart is a big joke on unsuspecting public. I can’t recommend buying produce at local farmers markets. You get non-irradiated, non GMO, non- chemically treated produce-even milk! A lot of people don’t realize that you CAN purchase raw milk legally- if purchased directly from the farm. I find it quite odd that raw milk providers are hounded mercilessly.. using guerilla tactics by law enforcement such as SWAT teams, etc- makes you wonder why “they” make SUCH a strong demand that we consume only the store bought milk.. what is IN that stuff. Of course, the shills on this page will mercilessly mock this comment as a “conspiracy” but as always, truth is mocked. Buy LOCAL yourself, why rely on someone else’s definition. And be careful of the big os Angeles “farmers markets” they’ve been outed as phony, many “locally grown” are the same GMO stuff sold in stores, they bought the “seconds” – figuring if it looks a bit rough, people will assume it’s local farm raised. So, do your research- buy local, buy organic.

      • fleef says:

        sighs- I can’t recommend ENOUGH buying from local farmers markets.. jeez..

        • acw123 says:

          same here – but honestly, it is a pain to do. Nine times out of ten I just use the substandard supermarket stuff or go without. Who has an extra hour per week to devote to buying a bell pepper?

      • ChuckECheese says:

        Although I’m sympathetic to the numerous psychic injuries you’ve sustained at the hands of grocers, some mitigating explanations:

        1. That interior mold in your bag o’oranges came about because of poor storage that allowed condensation in the bag, say, moving them from a hot to a cold situation. Or maybe they got sorta squished and the bruised skins started molding.
        2. There’s a health food store in Phoenix where they sell under-the-counter raw milk. You ask, “Do you have any milk today?” and you don’t mean the milk in the cooler. If they “have milk,” they go to the back room and return with an unmarked gallon bottle in a plastic bag.
        2a. Please recognize before the advent of widespread pasteurization that milk was a semi-dangerous substance. People got all sorts of terrible nasties from it that crippled and killed them. The raw-milk situation is better now, but partly because the amount produced is so small and there is so much scrutiny.
        3. I remember the Dallas Farmers’ Market, where they would switch good produce for bad in your bags, and (try to) hide the wholesaler crates from view. Some people claim the same thing happens in Phoenix, of which I’m pretty sure it does.

  14. Delicious Spam is delicious says:

    hey, same planet, what do you want anyway…

  15. RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

    Wow, you got all of that from an erroneous sign? Right down to the improper training? Huh. I had a few theories: customer moved the sign, sign people forgot to change the sign because they ran out of time, sign people forgot to change the sign because they didn’t give a darn (usually the floor staff has to try to “set” the next week’s ad while they do their other work, stocking crew put the wrong apples in the wrong place, someone just plain hoped they could trick a few customers (least likely), corporate printed the sign wrong and it was all they had so they used it…

    I’m really amazed that you figured it out so easily!

  16. apasserby says:

    Maybe they were taking the lead from grocery stores. I live just north of DC and three grocery chains here use the same ‘regional or local’ descriptions for fruits and vegetables. Rather difficult to fathom that peaches from New Jersey and tomatoes from NC are local. Same goes for Florida and CA oranges are considered regional to the DC area.

  17. Dagny Taggart says:

    Hey, Chris, I was in my local grocery store and they had a sign that said “Tree Ripened Fruit” on a display of grapes. I am sure it was because Wednesday night is when they switch from one week’s specials to the next, and I caught them in the middle, but if you want, I can email you a picture so you can flesh it out into an entire article.

  18. El_Fez says:

    Wait – a Washington state walmart did this? Washington? Come on, we’re world famous for our apples! That’s like importing maple syrup into Maine!

  19. racermd says:

    From what I remember working there, much of the produce at WalMart is managed by C. H. Robinson. The entire supply chain is/was managed by a dedicated team there that went so far as to work with individual farms to make sure there was enough of the right kind of produce at each store for any given day/week. They’d have farmers plant on specific days. It was crazy how much detail went into that. If a storm were to affect a particular region and a particular crop was being used for that supply, the team would scramble to find another source should it be needed.

    Not sure if WalMart has much if any say in where the logistics staff sources the produce (or if Apples are part of that contract), but there is a LOT of planning in how this stuff gets to market. If any of that chain is disrupted, it’s possible an emergency supply from another source is brought in to account for it.

    What would you rather have – non-local apples or no apples at all?

    • VintageLydia says:

      Properly labeled apples.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      CHRobinson must pay themselves well because WM has some of the most expensive and mediocre produce in all of Phoenix. $1.78 for a red bell pepper indeed. I can get them at other stores regularly 2/$1.

      • racermd says:

        Thing is, CHRobinson is strictly a 3rd-party logistics company. They make piles of money by taking super-slim margins on even bigger piles of product (be it produce, electronics, widgets, doodads, etc) being moved from point A to point B. It’s actually a pretty smart business model and they’ve really REALLY good at it.

        The quality of the product being moved isn’t much of their concern. All they do is make sure the product gets to the destination safely and on time.

  20. dangermike says:

    heh. maybe the term ‘local’ needs to be replaced. Technically where ever in the world they are grown is local to the growing process. It kinda reminds me of this classic gem often incorrectly attributed to Monty Python (when it actually came from a an Australian local equivalent): http://youtu.be/hXfWfJz59pk

  21. Press1forDialTone says:

    When are we going to not be surprised by this BS from WalMart.
    They have no intention of doing what is right or following through on
    any of their promises. WalMart is the ultimate expression of American
    greed and indentured servitude in the marketplace. Shop at a local/regional
    grocery store and keep your money in your state.

  22. MarkFL says:

    Well, if those Washington apples had just paid their bills, this stuff wouldn’t happen.

    No, wait…that’s not right.

    If Wal-Mart had tried buying apples in my state, my Smith & Wesson would have…no, that’s still not it…

    Washington apples should just get jobs and stop expecting a free ride from the rest of the produce in Washington. I mean the other Washington.

    Oh, the hell with it.

  23. Therulnig says:

    I learned years ago to disregard flashy advertising propaganda like that at the grocery store anyway. “Natural!” “Fresh!” “Heart healthy!”, “Organic!”, “Locally grown!” the list goes on. There is no way to verify any of it half the time or it doesn’t mean anything in the first place and the other half you have to get a 500 page FDA handbook that is written to lawyer-speak to see what “grass fed” really means on your package of beef. So, in the end, I just buy what I know to be better using the “Common Sense” product marker and go on about my life.