Red chard daal and an interesting grocery smackdown article!

Recently I came across this very interesting article Walmart Vs. Whole Foods (link courtesy Mark Bittman's bitten blog). When it comes to my food shopping I am not a fan of either of these grocery chains. I like to buy my fruits and vegetables local, seasonal, organics (when feasible) and direct from the source as much as possible. Bulk of my produce shopping happens at my local farmer's market. For the rest of the pantry staples (like onions, potatoes, milk, eggs, bread etc.) I rely on Trader Joe's (yes, I am a big fan of TJ!). I have shopped Whole Foods multiple times before but the place is a bit costly and beyond my budget for most part. For the not-so-common items (like quinoa, teff etc) that only Whole Foods stocks, I instead buy them online from a local grain producer farm (Bob's red mills). 

Coming back to the article: the two company's images could not be more different. Walmart's impression as a corporate super-power who mercilessly destroys local economies and relies on cheap bulk manufactured goods from faraway places to reduce consumer cost is wide-spread (read The Walmart Effect for further). On the other hand Whole Foods is known as a high-end fancy grocery chain stocking healthy, local, organic ingredients albeit at a much higher price. So when the article announced a grocery smackdown between Walmart vs. Whole Foods I was all eager ears!

Read the article for the whole story but in essence it covers Walmart's foray into organic healthy foods by subsidizing local farmer's whose farms are in vicinity of one of its supercenters. The reviewer buys identical produce and meats from both the chains and a few experts are called upon to taste test and compare the local/seasonal line from Walmart to that of Whole Foods. I won't disclose here but the results would surprise anyone for sure!

Now, I don't believe for a moment that Walmart is investing in local and organics out of consciousness or for greater good so to say. They are a corporation who want to make profits. We also know that when they set a target they execute extremely well. As they see that the local organics/healthy food movement is growing and as they also see that the number of customers opting to shell higher for local/seasonal is steadily climbing, they sure want a share of that growing market segment which I believe must have spurred this organics/local line. In any case though, I am happy to see these changes.

I strongly believe that each and every one of us makes a choice everytime we buy local or buy organic (albeit shelling few cents extra) and all of these choices together can contribute to something large and has potential to change the market direction for good. I am happy to see Walmart making a priority to stock local, seasonal and fresh produce based on the consumer demand. It will be monumental in making fresh organic and healthy accessible to each and everyone who wishes to eat healthy. It is surely a small step in the right direction and looking forward to many more :) I am definitely looking forward to visiting one of its supercenters to explore this myself.

Many fellow bloggers like Indo from Daily Musings are doing an excellent job of covering organics movement, local farming issues and many such topics near and dear to me. I was happy after reading the article and so thought I'll share it with all of you today. I would love to hear from you what you think about this article and the local/organics movement in general.
Okay, now coming back to the recipe: today on menu I have a simple daal with red chard. I just love the deep red color that the chard imparts to this daal. Take a look for yourself!
Just after you make the daal with red chard it will look like any other regular daal. Only after an overnight does the red chard starts giving out its redness. Next day the regular daal is somehow magically transformed into the deep red colored daal you see above.

Recipe: Red chard daal
1 bunch red chard - 8-10 large chard leaves
1 small onion
3 small green chilis
3 large cloves of garlic
1/2inch piece of ginger
2 tomatoes
1/2C split red lentils (masoor daal)
1/4C split green moong lentil (or use any lentils of your choice - just adjust the cooking time and water accordingly per package directions)
4C water
2tsp coriander powder
1/2tsp turmeric powder
1tsp cumin seeds
1Tbsp tamarind paste
juice of a lime
vegetable oil

  1. Finely chop onions, green chilis, garlic, ginger and tomatoes. Wash the chard leaves, remove the tough stems and chop them into small ribbons.
  2. Heat oil in a pan. When hot, temper with cumin seeds.
  3. Add chilis and onions and cook until onions start to brown.
  4. Add ginger and garlic to the pan and cook until aromatic (couple of minutes).
  5. Add tomatoes and cook until oil starts to separate.
  6. Add chopped chard leaves and cook covered for 5minutes or so until the leaves shrink in volume and some of the water has disappeared.
  7. Add the lentils, turmeric powder, 4C water. Bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and simmer covered for half an hour or so or until the daal is cooked through (time will vary based on how fast cooking the daal is).
  8. Add coriander powder, tamarind paste, salt and remove from heat. Adjust the seasonings, add lemon juice and serve with rice or chapati.
If you are not as fussy about colors as I am, green/yellow/rainbow chard are all perfectly good substitutes :) If chard is not available then even regular spinach can be used in its place.