In New Book, Undercover Author Talks About Wal-Mart Produce

In the interview above, reporter Tracie McMillan talks to American Public Media's Splendid Table about working for Wal-Mart and how the world's largest retailer's efforts to offer low-cost fresh produce plays out in the real world.

McMillan, the author of the new book, "The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee's, Farm Fields, and the Dinner Table," examines how corporate mantras like "eat local" and "eat organic" unfold in everyday life.

As part of her research, McMillan went to work for a Walmart store in Detroit and learned just how difficult it is to manage a produce section:

I spent a shift one day throwing out about 200 pounds of asparagus that had molded and rotted in the cooler and hadn't been rotated out -- it was about 6 weeks old. The cooler had a leak from the ceiling that lasted almost the entire duration of my time there, about a month, so we were losing a lot of produce in that way.

It just was this very interesting lesson in both how difficult and tricky it is to manage a produce section right. If you think about it, somebody has to be on top of the 300 to 500 items that are all dying at different rates in front of you. We talk so much about wanting to love your farmer and know your farmer, but I came out of this feeling like we really should know and love our produce managers. That's a really difficult job and it's incredibly important for us.

You can read the transcript of McMillan's interview right here.