Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”
― George Orwell, 1984
From Phones to pushchairs, pet insurance, mortgages to funeral services it seems that the large corporate supermarkets want to every penny you have to give from your life, from cradle to grave and everything in between.
|It's our independent shops that offer us the very best of seasonal local produce.|
I’m very careful where I spend my money. Money after all is power and we seem to have handed over power to some very dubious corporations. I did think about apologising to the people who I might offend in this post.. but I’m not going to because it’s about choice. Most people have been completely seduced by the supermarkets and we have, as a nation been sucked in to a vacuum that has changed an entire nations eating, purchasing and even social behaviour over the past thirty years.
I resent being controlled, and so I make every effort to buy my food at my small independent shops. My butcher, my fishmonger, my grocer and my local farmers market get as much of my custom as possible. When I do have to shop in a supermarket I choose the most ethical, after all I still need loo roll.
Last week, I found myself outside my local Tesco. The car park was full. "Helping you spend less every day" in large letters above the entrance.
In my opinion nothing could be further from the truth. I wonder if the irony of the slogan amuses the board of Directors because it seems to me that Tesco have absolutely no intention of helping you spend less. To begin with the store lay out has been designed over the years using behavioural experts to maximise the amount spent. The shelves themselves are stacked in such a way to increase the likelihood that you will pop the most profitable products in your basket. Bargain buy one get one free scream to purchase food you don’t even need. The entire store is aggressively designed to make you spend more. Even the choice of yellow and red colours of the stickers are psychologically aggressive and designed to increase stress levels. The result is an increase in cortisol symptoms which results in an increased appetite for high fat foods and cravings for sugar and sweet foods.
A report this week published in this BBC news article says that Britain's biggest supermarkets have been defending their practices after a report suggested that up to half of the world's food is thrown away. Believe me this is not helping people to spend less everyday.
|The lady I buy my beef from at the Melton Mowbray Farmers Market|
Just last week as I was walking about a large supermarket I've not been to in years and years I noticed that that layout and complete saturation of sales messages had raised my anxiety levels. All around me there were deals and offers and supposed bargains not to be missed, but every purchase seemed to come with a bamboozle of information, mostly about the price. In the end I suppose people are so bombarded with the “it’s cheaper’” message that they simply accept this and for their own sanity turn off the scream of information.
As my husband and I got to the back of the store by the bakery there were several security guards and extra staff and about thirty people all kind of milling about. There was considerable tension in the air and my husband asked what was going on. Stand well clear if you want my advice said the security guard. What followed could only be described as three simultaneous scrums. As the reduced trolleys were wheeled out the crowd that had gathered literally swarmed over them with a frenzy of people pushing, shoving and even standing on each other throwing food into their baskets as though they were post apocalypse movie extras. I found myself staring in disbelief.
“ It’s the same ones every night.” Said that security guards. “They’re total scum.”
I felt myself prickling, but decided to breath through my response. After all I was not the one there night in night out having to police this. As we were at the till the cashier mentioned this nightly routine “ They are vultures,” she said scornfully. “ They hang about in here waiting for the reductions with nothing better to do.”
“Has it occurred to you that perhaps these cannot afford to eat if they don’t get the reduced food?” I asked. She shrugged. “ They should get a job.”
I drove home feeling that I had witnessed a whisper of what is going on all over my country. The giant corporate supermarkets sending out messages that they care about us, whilst simultaneously
manipulating every aspect of our food decisions. Who exactly does Tescos help spend less everyday? From the time poor wealthy to the really desperately poor they seem to me to just want as much of everyone’s money as they can get. They want all of it - every penny. Well Tesco’s, Asda, Sainsbury, Morrisons and any other overbearing corporate supermarket .... I do not believe that it is your divine right to make money no matter what the cost.
It is the last time I will ever step foot in any of your stores, and so despite the inconvenience of finding a parking space and the extra time that it takes, I will consistently and continuously campaign for people to make the effort and support real people running independent shops who offer an alternative to the consumer.
So I was wondering then, how to turn such a negative experience into a positive one and I thought I'd celebrate all that is good about independent shops. Do you have an outstanding butcher? A wonderful fishmonger? A fabulous grocer?
Please leave a comment and go out of your way to keep them in business. Your local shops care, they will be pleased to see you, respect your custom, give you good advice, fabulous food and support the local farmers and the community. In fact they are everything that Tesco’s are not.
My last word to my own food blogging community is that collectively have serious influence - so if you are a blogger & would you would like to make a difference then please add this logo to your site and tell the world about your local baker, butcher, cheesemonger or greengrocer.
Everyday decisions add up to a lifetime of difference. Be the change you want to see.