The chocolate game has changed. Today, gourmet chocolatiers are adding exotic fruit, spices and cacao nibs to their premium bars and they are flying off the shelves.

In a move sure to stir up the sector, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has debuted Wild Oats, a line featuring low-cost organic food products. The move represents a partnership between Wal-Mart and Wild Oats, a preexisting brand, which will see around 100 products hit the shelves of every Walmart store that sells groceries.

Leicester, England—Soil in urban farming allotments is healthier, and therefore better for farming, than more intensively farmed soils, according to recent research. The study, conducted in the United Kingdom and published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, shows the benefits of local, small-scale farming.

Nunda, NY—Over 21,000 pounds of peanut butter were donated in April to the charity Feed the Children by seed and nut butter manufacturer Once Again Nut Butter. The 44 drums of peanut butter, weighing in at 480 pounds each, are being put to use in supporting victims of natural disasters in the Philippines and elsewhere.

Montpelier, VT—The Vermont legislature overwhelmingly passed a law requiring foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to say so on the label. The state’s governor, Peter Shumlin, vowed to sign the bill, which will become the first to independently require GMO labeling in the country. Connecticut and Maine have passed similar laws, but those will only take effect once neighboring states also pass GMO-labeling laws.

The Organic Center held its annual VIP dinner at Expo West, with the overarching theme of organic research.

News from industry food companies.

Washington, D.C.—Providing the big picture and some compelling statistics for the specialty food space is a new report published by the Specialty Food Association. Sales are up and growing almost across the board, and specialty foods are grabbing market share from conventional foods, according to the report.

All signs point to a continued rise in interest in alternative diets. A 2012 study from the Vegetarian Resource Group found that 2.5% of U.S. consumers self-identified as “vegan,” up from 1% since as recently as 2009 (1). Couple this with the documented decline in meat consumption, and it is clear that widespread dietary changes are afoot. Raw food-centered lifestyles also continue to garner interest. In each of these areas, food companies are stepping up to the plate to turn curious shoppers into loyal customers through marketing and innovation.