The Importance Of Shopping Local
Supermarkets have quickly become a one stop shop we're all reliant on for our weekly essentials - irregardless of what we need, how much or how little, it seems the trusty supermarket is the only option - the only decision being whether we choose Tesco or Sainsbury's this week. But when exactly did this happen? And is it really the most effective way to shop? Not only could it be a much more enjoyable experience, but eating local, and supporting local businesses is something we're wholey in favour of so we've had a look at the alternatives, their benefits and whether avoiding the supermarket could actually do everyone a favour.
Meat: Butchers, Fishmongers, farm shops, farmer's markets
Eggs: Farmer's markets, butchers, farm shops
Fruit and veg: Farmer's markets, grocer's, organic stores, fruit + veg stalls
Dry goods (quinoa/rice etc): Organic and health stores, local/ethnic stores, deli's, speciality stores
Cooking staples (oil/spices etc): Organic/health stores, local/ethnic stores, deli's, specialty stores
It was actually a recent trip to our local Butcher's that sparked the idea to talk about this topic. When they didn't have what we wanted available, he explained that they tended not to get the less popular secondary cuts in anymore because business wasn't doing well, with the majority buying their meat from the large supermarket down the road, so they could never sell it all. And this got us thinking how sad it would be to see such places disappear off the high street, replaced only by large, lifeless supermarkets. So what are the advantages of shopping locally? Let's bullet point:
- The quality is always higher, and the produce fresher - with organic and grass fed options much more commonly found. Call us bias but we've never tasted supermarket meat as fresh as what we find at the butcher's, and the same goes for our veg. Our grocer's delivery each morning is not only much more beautiful and vibrant than that in the supermarkets, it also tastes a whole lot better - and we hope anyone who's tried our products would agree.
- It's better for the environment - it's saving on air and land miles as well as cutting down on unnecessary packaging.
- It's helping the local economy. You're not only supporting local farmers, but also the local businesses. It's a sad thought to think that the butcher's, grocer's and fishmongers that were once thriving, are now struggling to compete.
- Probably our favourite reason: it's always a friendly experience. Friendly conversation is always guaranteed when you pop into any of these places, whether it be about the produce, politics or weather. We can guarantee you'll walk away feeling happier, and far less stressed than you would walking out of a super market.
- It saves time. One of the big things that seems to put people off shopping locally, is the inconvenience of having to go to various different places. But really, the time saved from being able to just pop in, pick up your bits and be on your way without having to trawl the aisles and join the 20-deep queue completely counteracts this. And it's easy to fit it into your weekly schedule too - find a local farmer's market where you can grab it all on a weekend morning (as well as stopping for brunch) or drop into the local butcher's or grocer's on your lunch break or way home.
- It actually works out about the same price. Along with time consuming, a big reason for not shopping locally seems to be the price difference. A few amendments, and you'll soon realise that's not the case though. Depending on where you shop, veg and eggs can quite often work out cheaper or the same as typical supermarket prices. Shop seasonally and you'll soon see a dramatic difference too. As for meat, it's all about knowing what to buy. Go for secondary cuts of red meat such as beef cheeks or brisket - they tend to be richer in flavour so you don't need as much either. And get the whole chicken rather than just breasts - not only is it cheaper but you get much more variety. Breasts one night, thighs and legs the next, and a whole lot of chicken stock for the rest of the week.
- It's better for you. Shopping locally, based on availability and seasonality is what we've always done for many generations, and so it's what are bodies are used to - basically this means that it's food our bodies know how to digest. It also makes you much more aware of how much you're buying, and what you're eating. We've all been in that situation where we've walked round the supermarket picking up anything and everything just to get home and realise we have far too much food (as well as that tub of ice-cream and bar of chocolate we just had to have). Strip it back to old fashioned over-the-counter, and stores selling just what you need, and you're much more likely to get just what you went for, when you need it. Cutting out the supermarket also cuts out the likelihood of buying food containing all those antibiotics, processed ingredients, chemicals and preservatives too - none of which are kind on our bodies, or health.