On first thought, Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFM) and Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) couldn't be more different. However, they still ended up in a race for American consumers who covet increasingly popular types of products and corporate initiatives, despite the fact that they're polar opposites in retail style.

Motley Fool senior analyst Alyce Lomax explains how companies like these can push each other into positive competitive directions that are good for the world -- races to the top make for healthy competition that's better for investors and everyone else.

John Mackey, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Alyce Lomax owns shares of Whole Foods Market. The Motley Fool recommends Whole Foods Market. The Motley Fool owns shares of Whole Foods Market. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.