I received a letter from Stacie Behler, Vice President/Corporate Communications & Public Affairs for Meijers in response to my letters to the corporation's top management.
Her letter reads, in part,
"At this time, we are fully cooperating with an independent review of allegations made regarding corporate involvement in Acme Township. John Pirich, a partner with the law firm of Honigman Miller, is conducting this comprehensive review. Once the review is complete, Meijer will immediately take any necessary steps to comply with report or other requirements."
This is great ...and not enough.
Bill McDonough asks, "When do we measure our intentions by saying, 'it is not against the law?'"
The issues here go far beyond the technical reporting statues.
The Traverse City area has, perhaps, Michigan's most realized and developed local food system thanks to the work of the Michigan Land Use Institute and many local activists and farmers. What was Meijer doing building a second (or was it a third) store in this area?
How did the corporation's plans fit in with the increasing desire by local residents to have a healthy, local food system?
And what the corporation's response to Acme Township's resistance part of a larger effort to "make globalization work" in spite of a changing reality on the ground in Grand Traverse? These are just some of the questions.
So I ask Meijer to make public the entire report on this incident.
And to begin a conversation with local food activists throughut West Michigan about pro-active steps the corporation might take to strengthen the movement to build a local food system in Michigan communities.
I believe the future for food retailers lies not in out Wal-Marting Wal-Mart through increasing purchases of cheap stuff abroad, but in corporations like Meijers becoming agents for change, using their purchasing clout and capital resources to invent a new locally focused food supply chain. It is my understanding that a beginning conversation was had at GLEXPO in December with purchasing representatives from Meijers and others.
But, in my experience, this change is not cosmetic. Re-orienting our food system to a more secure local supply chain requires a degree of corporate reinvention that has not yet been evidenced by the big players.
We should build on this Acme/Meijer incident to begin this process.
Peace and good food,