retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Regarding changing leadership at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), one MNB user wrote:

There’s a net petition being circulated to suggest to Barack Obama that maybe, just maybe, it would be good for our food supply to name someone who represents sustainable, local agriculture to the Secretary of Agriculture.

Interesting stuff – and I signed it.

I believed in sustainable, local agriculture when I lived in the States – and moving to Europe has only underlined how important it is for rural economies and family farms. I can’t begin to tell you how much better things taste when they’re fresh and local and raised in a manner that isn’t harmful to the Earth. I am regularly meeting the people who grew or produced the food that ends up on our factory table – and it feels good to know that my grocery money helps another family directly. (And wow…do these folks make good stuff!)

My Thanksgiving turkey was a free-range bird from a farm about an hour away – and we spent a long time just chatting with the family while we were there. And wow – even though it was pricey by US standards, I’ve never had such a fantastic turkey. We’ll go back next year, for sure – and buy more of the rose-petal jelly (try it – it’s awesome), hand-made pates, and local beers that they sell in their store – all produced by other families.

And for what it’s worth – most of the goodies we’ve bought at local farms are the same price as the supermarkets – a way better bargain.

This all used to exist in the US, and in a few fortunate places, still does….but who knows – if we have safe, sustainable, tasty food that keeps local economies flourishing…just maybe we’ll begin to pay attention to what we eat again…it will take a while, but it could happen.

I wrote yesterday that during his appearance on “Meet The Press,” Walmart CEO Lee Scott seemed more in touch than a lot of people with humble beginnings that reflect the reality of how a lot of people live. Which led an MNB user to write:

I totally agree with your assessment that many people did not have to sacrifice early in their life. I can relate to Lee's comments. I was a Vietnam vet that was drafted in Wisconsin after finishing college. The state had a program for vets where they gave you a $5,000 loan at 3.0% to buy a house. We took that loan and $1,000 of our $1,500 in saving and had enough for the $6,000 (20%) for our first house, which cost the same as Lee's -- $30,000. Our loan was 8.5% through the local bank. No 20% house.

We have become a country of excess - easy credit and collectors of stuff. The new generation wants everything now and is not willing to wait and earn it. The same can be said of their attitudes in the workplace. They want instant reward and advancement.

They/we paid the price when the bubble burst. Hopefully, this is a wakeup call for those living beyond their means. Maybe this brought a sense of humbleness to those living in excess. Maybe several years in community service or the military is a good thing after all.

And another MNB user made an interesting point:

I, too, watched “Meet the Press,” albeit the rerun this morning while working out. I agree with your views on Lee Scott and that he has not forgot his roots, and still believe that he would be a good choice for the car czar as I listen to Mitt Romney and Jennifer Granholm "discuss" the auto industry.

Some of the auto industry officials and union officials should review Lee Scott's expense reports and tour his office. Maybe they would begin to understand what running a profitable business takes... Then again, as they checked out of the Four Seasons and headed home in their jets, I doubt it....

KC's View: