Health & Wellness

Wasting Less Will Save You Food, Money, and More

Imagine walking out of the grocery store with four bags full of fresh food, dropping a bag, and not bothering to stop and pick it up. Seems crazy, but that’s essentially what most of us are doing in our daily lives. The average American throws away about $30 each month in the form of uneaten food. The lettuce that went bad, the leftovers you never got around to eating, and that science experiment in the back of the fridge you’re hoping will disappear – they all add up to the approximately 15% to 25% of food you buy that typically goes uneaten.

That’s real money going straight into the garbage instead of paying off your credit card bills or going toward your savings. Think about it. If you don’t eat half of that $10/pound fish, that’s $5 you’re throwing away. The last third of that pasta sauce jar that got a little tangy? That was at least a dollar’s worth. Day by day, we’re tossing cash out with our trash.

Agriculture uses about half the land area in the United States and a full 80% of the fresh water.  In fact, it takes the same amount of water to produce a hamburger as it does to take a 90-minute shower! Being careful not to waste too much food is actually one of the most environmentally conscious things you can do.  Not to mention, we have a serious hunger problem right here in the U.S., with one out of every six people going without enough food for at least part of the year. To have this food insecurity exist alongside such massive amounts of wasted food simply doesn’t seem right.

The good news is that turning around the food waste trend is not only doable, but it can actually improve your experience with food. What can you do? 

  • Freeze things before they go bad
  • Buy smaller quantities more often
  • Use a shopping list
  • Be realistic about what you really use

Before checking out at the grocery store, compare your list with what’s in the cart. It doesn’t take a huge change – just being careful to not waste food really will make a difference for you, your wallet, and the planet. 

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Community

Among the Essentials, a Delivery of Hope

When Hurricane Katrina made landfall in August 2005, David Simmons’ first thought wasn’t the minor damage to his home in Mississippi. It was calling the Walmart dispatch station to see how he could help through his job as a truck driver.

He was sure there was plenty of emergency freight that had to be delivered, but that wasn’t a request he was met with on the other end of the line. The operator instead asked how his family fared in the storm, and told him to stay home and take care of his property as there were drivers coming from all over to assist with the recovery.

Later, he did get a chance to help – hauling donated merchandise for the Salvation Army – and says that it remains to this day one of the most fulfilling moments of his driving career.

“From food, clothing and water to even roofing materials, it was all needed and appreciated by the residents of the Gulf Coast,” David said.

Rickey Oliver, too, remembers Katrina as a moment he was proud to work for Walmart. One of the drivers who participated in a convoy of trucks that waited to enter one of the most heavily damaged areas of New Orleans, Rickey thought for a moment that the abandoned-looking area around him was actually empty. 

A man proudly holds a 2005 image of Walmart trucks waiting to enter affected areas of the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina

“To my amazement, like in the movie Field of Dreams they came, walking in from every street, every corner, out of buildings I thought for sure no one would be in. All hungry and thirsty and desperate for help, and we … were the help,” Rickey said. “I don’t think a person can truly express the feeling or the honor one receives in doing this kind of thing.”

Gary Mars, another Walmart driver who was part of that same convoy, feels the same way. Carrying water, generators, and food – plus ice, important during hot August weather in Louisiana – was a critical role to fill.

“I remember the sense of pride I felt as we convoyed into New Orleans and surrounding cities, as nearly every vehicle we met was waving at us as we passed, and several had makeshift signs saying, ‘Thank you, Walmart,’” Gary said. “I was relatively new to Walmart, but I knew at that point that this was a place to permanently call home. It’s amazing to me just how quick lives can change, just in a moment. It’s very humbling.” 

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Health & Wellness

Fresh, Fast and Fun: Stay on Track with Produce Hacks

As the freshness of a new year wears away, so can those changes we laid out for our diets. No one wants to eat healthy food if it doesn’t taste good. And sometimes throwing together a salad for tomorrow’s lunch is the last thing we want to do at the end of a long day.

But when we take a look at food trends and what our customers are buying, we see a couple of things that help keep the diet momentum going: easy options that free up time, and, when there’s a few extra minutes to make cooking fun, new ways of giving healthier selections a gourmet touch.

With that in mind, here are some choices that are gaining steam – and you can work them into your routine simply by spending a few extra minutes in the produce section.

Brussels sprouts. Strong in flavor and smell, Brussels sprouts have long been that vegetable many people love to hate. But sales of Brussels sprouts are growing for retailers as customers are drawn to new ways of preparing them. Roasting or grilling and adding a pop of flavor like balsamic vinegar or garlic makes them seem decadent.

RecipeCards_Brussel Sprouts w Yogurt Drizzle
Spaghetti squash or spiral-cut zucchini. Have you ever heard of a zoodle? If you got a spiral slicer as a holiday gift, you’re probably aware that zucchini is becoming increasingly popular as a pasta replacement. Spaghetti squash, too, is a delicious alternative to dishes that call for noodles.

Cauliflower. From pizza crust to a mashed potato stand-in, cauliflower is growing out of its standing as a bland, forgotten salad ingredient. If you’d rather not use it in place of one of these carbs, try cutting a head of it into large slices and grilling it like a steak.

Chopped salad. When you don’t have a huge lettuce leaf to chase around your plate or, later, shove awkwardly in your mouth, a salad becomes much easier to eat. Imagine everything you’d want in a salad, processed in a chopper – that’s a chopped salad. It’s simple to make and store in the fridge, and we’re seeing customers prepare more of them.

RecipeCards_Convenient Chopped Salad

Salad kits and bowls. If you spend any time on Pinterest, you’ve probably seen the Mason jar salad concept. Here’s how our customers are eating healthier and saving more time: Purchasing single-serve ready-to-eat salad bowls, which include a protein, the dressing and a disposable fork. Also popular are salad kits, which have everything in the bag except a main protein. Just shake into a bowl and you’ve got a fresh side dish for the whole family.

Premium juice. If you don’t have a juicer – or the time to use one – you’ll find prepared juices right next to the produce in select Walmart stores. These aren’t the fruit cocktail variety (mixed juices are available in the dairy department) but instead are very pure, unprocessed and premium in nature.

Kale. This leafy green has been surging in popularity for a few years now, and it’s not going away. A few years ago you’d find just a couple of kale options in our stores; today we offer it in salad blends, plus readymade kale chips, dips and more. It’s a super food that’s also super versatile.

RecipeCards_Crunchy Kale Salad

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Community

One Nurse, 16 Infants, and a Storm’s Ultimate Test

Medea Gabriel is not a hero, she insists.

During Hurricane Katrina, there were many others she believes are equally deserving of that title. Her fellow medical staff at New Orleans Memorial Medical Center who worked while separated from their families. Her best friend, Monique, who took Medea’s ailing mother to evacuate on her own. Also, the strangers she remembers driving their personal boats to pick up patients and staff from the hospital and navigate them to dry land.

But as a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit, Medea helped wrap up 16 babies and move them to shelter through a hole in the wall that led to a truck bed. The truck bed was to take them to a helicopter and then, safety, but once Medea passed each infant through the wall, she had no idea if outside realities would let that happen.

Today, she knows that nearly all of those babies somehow survived on the way to their destination, Baton Rouge Women’s Hospital. While one of them did pass away, she doesn’t know how or when, because that hospital has since closed. She recently got a Facebook message from one of the mothers who wanted to thank her for what she did that day.

“It was surreal to know how much I impacted her life and that she remembered me,” Medea said. “Just knowing that these kids are now 10 years old lets me go on.”

Photo shows the inside of a neonatal intensive care unit

When Medea transported those infants that day, she says she was simply doing her job. Once the job was complete, she turned her full attention toward her mother, whom she sent with her best friend to get on a boat to safety. She had to pack up her mother’s medicine, waterproof her medical records and dosage instructions and staple them to the inside of her mother’s clothes so they didn’t get lost. She then sent her two loved ones off to stay with a college roommate whom she believed in her heart would take them in, but she didn’t know for sure. It was the second big moment that day where she had to simply act.

Thankfully, two days later – after Medea herself had to leave the hospital not knowing her next resting place – she found out that her mother was, in fact, alive.

While many things have changed for Medea since then, like a new job and also a new husband, she has returned home to New Orleans and works with pediatric patients once again, this time doing HIV research.

“I’m in a totally different place than I was before Katrina,” she said. “I’ve found peace and joy in this recovery.”

Editor’s Note: You can hear more of Medea’s story in a four-part podcast created by Good360, a disaster relief organization that works to improve the way communities can connect with much-needed supplies.    

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Community

With Grit and Heart, Two Mississippi Stores Return

Pass Christian, Mississippi, is a small town of only a few thousand people, but it has always been a huge part of Kim Claycomb’s life. It’s where she grew up and went to high school, and later built a career at the local Walmart.

In the last few days of August 2005, Kim’s community was forever changed as Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. Kim’s home was damaged, not destroyed, but her workplace – the supercenter she and her colleagues affectionately named “The Store by the Shore,” was ruined beyond repair.

After the storm hit, many Walmart associates went to work at other stores. Several in the Pass Christian area headed to another nearby small community, Waveland, to serve local residents in a makeshift store they created inside a tent in the parking lot.

Today, Kim works at a Neighborhood Market in Gulfport, but as her store in Pass Christian was being reconstructed, she drove by every day and took photos of its progress. When the building was complete, she recalled the mayor talking excitedly about the grand opening on the local news.

“I never thought a Walmart would have that big of an impact, but it did,” Kim said. “Seeing customers who remembered us from before … those people are like family to me. Coming back was a big deal.”

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