For 28 days, from Sunday 10 March I am giving up supermarkets. The seed of this idea was planted by a post on the Fife Diet website http://www.fifediet.co.uk suggesting that followers might like to forgo the supermarket for Lent. The message, as I understood it, was that supermarkets through their failures to us the customers – for example, recently within the processed meat industry – are showing a lack of care toward us so they do not deserve our consumer loyalty. Instead, stated the website ‘Let’s support farmers, local shops, small retailers and help demand real change.’ I sent a tweet saying that this was a great idea and that I would at least try to reduce my use of supermarkets. My half-hearted commitment was made because I felt there was just no way I would manage without going to the supermarket for the whole of Lent.
I have to admit though that the concept stayed with me. Later I was speaking to a friend who said she arranged for her milk to be delivered by a local company and that she got a veggie box dropped off regularly. I realised that ordinary people could be socially responsible without too much bother. Further – I’ll admit it! – I like to think of myself as someone who has a greater social conscience than your average person . It hit a nerve that my neighbour was acting in a socially responsible way without even trying and I was doing nothing!
I live in a town in Scotland whose high street has a reasonable selection of local shops. That same week I found myself on it with 30 minutes to kill. I passed the fruit and veg shop and noted that they do home deliveries for a minimum spend. I had intended to pop in but with my youngest child in a buggy, I’ll be honest, I just couldn’t face negotiating my way round what looked like a small shop although I can’t be sure because, in the 6 years I have lived in this town, I have never actually set foot in it!
So there I was, one tweet and a few enlightening days later, my flippant and excessive supermarket use was beginning to make me feel distinctly uncomfortable. I have decided to conduct a small experiment and blog about it. For 28 days I will be supermarket-free! I chose that length of time because I think that it is long enough to actually cause me some discomfort and inconvenience but at the same time it will force me to explore other options than the supermarket and hopefully find some satisfactory alternatives. I’m expecting it to hurt, but no pain, no (social) gain, right?
On Thursday I will post a bit more about the way I currently shop and outline what I think will be the advantages and disadvantages of this experiment.