The New York Times ran an article this morning on a new Walmart house-brand of organic milk. Because the article was in the business section, the motivation and character of Walmart's interest in selling organic milk goes more or less unadressed - there's a market, and they are delivering product to it.
According to a market researcher working with Walmart they are even expanding the organic consumer market, “They’re creating incremental users because they’re removing one of the big inhibitors to buying organic, which is price." I wonder what the persona room (pdf) for your typical Walmart organic buyer would have in it?
I'm still inclined to think that any interest in the organic food movement is a good thing, but some early adopters have been done with the organic label for years now because it's virtually meaningless - you can bathe lettuces in bleach and still sell them as organic.
Which is why it sounds like such a cop out when Aurora Organic Dairy, Walmart's organic milk supplier, says they,"are in full compliance with Agriculture Department standards for organic dairy."
Aurora are also feeding their cows hay, silage, corn and soybeans. I can't sling any mud at soybeans or silage, and grass-fed cows face perils of their own, but if you are feeding a cow corn then you've given up your right to make claims to your interest in that animals health and welfare.
Photo credit: Matthew Staver for The New York Times