A Wal-Mart skeptic writes in The Atlantic that Wal-Mart’s produce compares very favorably to more expensive equivalents purchased elsewhere.  Along the way, he arranges a taste test of courses prepared from ingredients purchased at Wal-Mart and at Whole Foods Market, with Wal-Mart winning most courses:

As I had been in my own kitchen, the tasters were surprised when the results were unblinded at the end of the meal and they learned that in a number of instances they had adamantly preferred Walmart produce. And they weren’t entirely happy.

Apparently, Wal-Mart has some innovative programs to bring fresh and interesting produce to its stores.  One, which Walmart calls

Heritage Agriculture, will encourage farms within a day’s drive of one of its warehouses to grow crops that now take days to arrive in trucks from states like Florida and California. In many cases the crops once flourished in the places where Walmart is encouraging their revival, but vanished because of Big Agriculture competition.

And the money quote:

Michelle Harvey, who is in charge of working with Walmart on agriculture programs at the local Environmental Defense Fund office, summarized a long conversation with me on the sustainability efforts she thinks the company is serious about: “It’s getting harder and harder to hate Walmart.”

As the band played, “The World Turned Upside Down!”

via The Great Grocery Smackdown – The Atlantic (March 2010).