Yesterday I had a few free hours and decided to use them to remind myself why I have given up supermarkets for 28 days. I have been getting so bogged down in the practicalities of sourcing food that I felt I could use a little reminder of some of the advantages of being supermarket-free.
I typed ‘giving up supermarkets’ into my search engine and just read, following links as I went. There are so many reasons to avoid supermarkets that I think it would be easily possible to write a book on the subject – no doubt someone has. In fact I came across such compelling arguments within a few minutes that I’m surprised they are so widely used, and indeed that it is a socially acceptable way to shop.
I aim to keep my blog posts in general fairly short to keep the reader’s attention so what I will do here is put down the main reasons I am glad I am avoiding supermarkets:
- We can’t always trust how the food we buy has been produced or indeed what is in it. The recent ‘horsemeat scandal’ has highlighted this.
- ‘Buy one get one free’, ‘3 for 2’ and similar deals can be misleading for consumers. It can be difficult to work out value for money and arguably, they encourage food waste, with customers buying more than they need and in some cases, excessive amounts of unhealthy food.
- Loyalty cards are marketed to benefit customers but are also used by stores to target products and increase sales.
- Supermarkets contribute to huge amounts of wasted food that does not get harvested because it does not look ‘perfect’ enough to sell.
- Many goods are arguably ‘over packaged’ leading to issues of excessive waste.
- Out of season fruit and vegetables are widely available but this leads to products being flown across the world to meet consumer demand at a cost to the environment.
- Supermarkets in the UK are a powerful force. They are capable of driving small local businesses who can’t compete out of business and overseas they are responsible for the poor employment rights, long hours and low wages of many workers.
If you would like to read more arguments, or go deeper into some of the issues above (and potentially put yourself off using the supermarket for life) I especially recommend these sites: www.waronwant.org www.ethicalconsumer.org www.hisbe.co.uk
What is really beginning to strike me on Day 16 of this experiment is that supermarkets seem to win the battle for consumers largely because they are widely believed to offer the best prices. (This doesn’t mean they actually do). Indeed there are some compelling supermarket campaigns to attract consumers based on their competitive pricing, one offers an in-house price comparison with other supermarkets and compensates the consumer with a voucher, should they have been able to buy their goods cheaper at a comparable store.
This brings me back to my thoughts of Day 13 where I found I often don’t stock up on goods in independent shops because I’m not sure I’m getting the best value for money. When did I train myself to believe that low price is a good thing, almost above all else?
Is it this quest for low pricing that allows us to ignore the disadvantages of supermarket shopping that I have outlined above? Are there other factors, such as convenience that provide as much of a draw? Are we so strapped for cash in this country, and so busy, that we simply accept what the supermarket offers us while ignoring what I would suggest are compelling arguments for shopping elsewhere? As ever, I welcome your comments.