I went to a major supermarket yesterday. It’s something I still haven’t quite worked out how to avoid completely, but something I do a whole lot less of these days. When I was zooming up and down the aisles it dawned on me that it wasn’t long ago that I did all my food and grocery shopping there. It wasn’t until I became pregnant with Birdie four and a half years ago that I started reading more and moving slowly towards a more sustainable, local and community driven life.
It is such an inner battle for me going to the supermarket these days. The things I buy there are now limited to things like toothpaste, tuna, cheese, yoghurt, oats, some nuts/seeds, spices, special ladies items, overnight nappies and… chocolate. That’s pretty much it.
Yesterday I found myself in the nut aisle and was outraged. At least half of the nut shelf was suddenly occupied by the supermarket’s own [cheaper] brand. Over the years everyone has noticed the homebrand of the supermarket slowly nudging in, haven’t you? Changing colours like a chameleon: look I’m red and white! Oh, don’t look at that cheap guy, come over here to me young lady, I’m exactly the same thing but look, admire my fancy pants packaging, look deep into the colours of my fancy homebrand packaging, don’t look towards the other brands… I’m just quietly sidelining the shelves. If I could just… elbow my way… Oh HELLO THERE! How did I end up here, right in the middle of the shelves? Where’s everyone gone? Oh goodness, what a surprise! Now you have no choice but to pick me, no matter what colour my packaging is… do you want… me in brown with fancy font… or… me in red… or ME?
Gosh it made me stamp my feet a little louder down that aisle! The thing is, I can’t even remember which brand I used to buy, but I know it wasn’t there anymore! Same for the sustainably fished tuna (if there is such a thing)… I have to stand in front of the shelves for five minutes trying to find the two cans that are squished into their tiny allocated spot while the supermarket’s own brand screams at me. Go away!
Changes have happened slowly in my kitchen over the last four-ish years, but they sure have happened.
I first changed my fruit and veg to a local fruit and veg shop when we moved out of the city five years ago. Then I took it a step further and now get my fruit and veg weekly in a box from an organic co-op. I was vegetarian for a while there so meat wasn’t an issue, but when I started to eat meat again, boy, what a conundrum. I now travel about twenty minutes from home with a friend and we buy our meat at a lovely free range butcher about once a month.
With these small changes it has meant that our diet has gone from 100% non-organic to around about 60-70% organic. I go all over the place for my shopping now. What I can’t get (due to availability OR price) at our co-op, I sometimes buy at one of a few organic shops that I frequent. I am buying a lot more things in bulk – flour, canned legumes, fruit.
Initially I got so overwhelmed seeing how people organised their food and where they bought from and so on. I didn’t know where to start. I’ve learnt when trying to change anything in my life, that it helps to start slow, to make small changes and soon those small changes accumulate until you look back and don’t recognise the place you began at!
Coming towards the end of the year, what are you going to change for 2014?