Harper's Finest — April 11, 2014, 5:13 pm

Dan Halpern’s “Citizen Walmart” (2012)

The retail giant’s unlikely romance with small farmers

This Thursday, Walmart announced that it was significantly expanding the range of organic products it offers; the news came a day after Target announced partnerships with seventeen brands specializing in “natural” foods. The initiatives have prompted speculation about how farmers will fulfill the demand.

Dan Halpern investigated just that question in the July 2012 issue of Harper’s Magazine, looking broadly at Walmart’s move into local food and what it might mean for the country’s small farmers:

The Liuzzas said they had a close relationship with the company — “I deal with Walmart directly,” Lizzy said; “they want to know what weather we got coming up, what issues we have, they want to know everything” — but sent the paperwork and negotiated most of the deals through a third-party broker, in their case the Minnesota-based logistics giant C. H. Robinson. The prices Walmart gave them were good and consistent, and at every turn, the family felt, Walmart had treated them fairly and understood their needs.

Still, Liuzza had not forgotten why he had needed Walmart in the first place. He had been a big supplier for another supermarket chain — until one day he wasn’t. “We was really doing a lot of things to grow, and all of a sudden, we was still growing but they was done with us. It wasn’t over quality, it wasn’t over prices, it was just a change in direction they was going. The small little deal didn’t matter anymore,” he said. “It scared me — it like to broke me. But my son don’t have that memory. The Walmart deal’s everything for him. When it changed, I looked at my daddy and said, ‘What did we do? What did we do to deserve this?’ But Kevin don’t remember that. . . . He’s taking on a heap of debt to scale up for Walmart, a heap of debt.”

Read the rest of Dan Halpern’s “Citizen Walmart.”

Single Page

More from Harper’s Magazine:

Memento Mori September 2, 2014, 5:33 pm

Charles Bowden (1945–2014)

Mentions July 16, 2014, 7:00 pm

“The End of Retirement” on MSNBC

Watch Jessica Bruder on MSNBC’s The Cycle

Official Business June 25, 2014, 8:00 am

Garry Winogrand at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

A retrospective exhibition from June 27 to September 21 in New York City

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada



September 2014

Israel and Palestine

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Washington Is Burning

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On Free Will

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

They Were Awake

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content


Arab artists take up — and look past — regional politics
“When everyday life regularly throws up images of terror and drama and the technological sublime, how can a photographer compete?”
“Qalandia 2087, 2009,” by Wafa Hourani
“There was torture by the previous regime and by the current Iraqi regime,” Dr. Amin said. “Torture by our Kurdish government, torture by Syrians, torture by the U.S.”
Visiting His Own Grave © Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
The Tale of the Tape·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Heroin isn’t the weakness Art Pepper submits to; it’s the passion he revels in.”
Photograph (detail) © Laurie Pepper
The Soft-Kill Solution·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Policymakers, recognizing the growing influence of civil disobedience and riots on the direction of the nation, had already begun turning to science for a response."
Illustration by Richard Mia
New Books
New Books·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Almond insists that watching football does more than feed an appetite for violence. It’s a kind of modern-day human sacrifice, and it makes us more likely to go to war.”
Photograph by Harold Edgerton

Chance that a movie script copyrighted in the U.S. before 1925 was written by a woman:

1 in 2

Engineers funded by the United States military were working on electrical brain implants that will enable the creation of remote-controlled sharks.

Malaysian police were seeking fifteen people who appeared in an online video of the Malaysia-International Nude Sports Games 2014 Extravaganza, and Spanish police fined six Swiss tourists conducting an orgy in the back of a moving van for not wearing their seatbelts.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!


In Praise of Idleness


I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today