Every Little Helps Feed the MonsterSunday, 17 June 2007
If you’re fed up with feeding supermarket monsters like Tossco and Asad (part of the War-Mart family!), but not sure if there are any alternatives, there is good news. Despite the voracious appetite of such beasts to destroy our local businesses and communities while posing as our friends, there are people out there who offer a viable alternative to the “buy one get one free (or the farmer’s kids get it)” brigade. The supermarket fat cats must be having a right laugh, telling us to “Bogof!” then waddling off to the bank with our cash…..
I recently overheard someone, for whom I‘d previously had some degree of respect, explaining their perspective on supermarkets. Her philosophy ran along the lines of, “occasionally it’s good to visit local or more ethical shops but supermarkets can’t be avoided – everything in moderation.” Moderation? Is there a box I can tick at the checkout which means Asad will only moderately squeeze small producers’ testicles? Or that only a moderate number of local businesses will be put out of business by Tossco? Or even that only a moderate number of War-Mart staff in the US will be so badly paid that they need to be on state benefits while the company pays its shareholders at the taxpayers’ expense? I bit my lip and didn’t butt into their conversation. Cowardly? I don’t know. After a while, death by condescending smiles becomes a bit draining and it’s nice to have a break from the campaign trail. Anyway, I hope what follows is helpful to those who’ve got past my rant and want to learn about some decent alternatives……
“A farmers' market is a market in which farmers, growers or producers from a defined local area are present in person to sell their own produce, direct to the public. All products sold should have been grown, reared, caught, brewed, pickled, baked, smoked or processed by the stallholder.” Go to Certified Farmers’ Markets to find out more and to see if there is a farmers’ market in your area.
Each farmers’ market is independently inspected by the National Farmers’ Retail & Markets Association (FARMA). The FARMA site has a helpful list of seasonal produce and details of campaigns and events around the country.
If you can’t find something near you via one of these national sites, get onto Scroogle (which is Google’s much much nicer and less nosey little brother) and do a scroogle scraper search for farmers markets in your area.
Farm Shops & Farm Gate Retail is a directory of shops and retail outlets on farms and crofts in England, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man promoting fresh healthy food from the countryside - local, sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Farm Shop Portal claims to “feature the finest producers in Britain, as well as a comprehensive listing of farmers’ markets, country fairs and shows.”
BOX DELIVERY SERVICES
By putting in my postcode on the front page of Vegboxschemes, I found ten schemes which will deliver a variety of locally-produced, organic meat and vegetables, as well as fruit, milk, eggs, jams, pickles, wine, chocolate and even beer. The site was “was born out of frustration with big business, big supermarket business to be precise. Its founders both felt that the normal consumer was forgetting the local services on their doorstep and simply accepting that supermarkets were now their ‘local’ providers. They then heard that a handful of the ‘Major’ players were planning their own box schemes and that was the catalyst that prompted direct action.”
There are some great quotes on the homepage, all of which promote a very positive message and a couple of which are shown below.
"A simple scheme that delivers to my place of work weekly. Good value for money and tasty veg and great eggs! Very low food miles as all locally grown."
"Lowers the carbon footprint of foodmiles. Plus minimises packaging - hence less rubbish."
There’s been a lot of talk recently about balancing food miles against organic produce and here’s a great opportunity to buy local AND organic. Not all box schemes are brilliant and you may need to ‘test cycle’ a couple to find the best in your area. We found that we started getting vegetables which we didn’t even recognise but our delivery company’s website had information and even recipes for the uninitiated!
Watch out for a follow-up article on more alternatives to feeding the monster.
If you are interested in ethical shopping, check out Where’s Your Money Going?
This article was prepared to the sound of As Is Now by Paul Weller, getting ready for the gig on Thursday! Review appearing soon on TTRP……….