Sunday, December 8, 2013

Put Back the Broccoli & Walk Away

I have a real problem with ‘Supermarkets’...I went into one yesterday just to buy my favourite bread (Taylors) and gave in and decided to purchase some other essentials - some broccoli, salad, ham...and the whole time I felt like I was walking around inside one big conspiracy. 
Why am I buying this ham that tastes like crap from this e-coli cabinet from some guy who clearly doesn't want to be there any more than I do?...Where is this broccoli from and what poor farmer has been bullied into producing it at the cheapest possible price by the Conspiracy Cube Company? I felt sorry for the poor farmer and put the broccoli back.
I usually buy my veggies at my local grocer - family owned, locally sourced produce and I buy in season, in our country. Sorry New Zealand, but I even turn you away! Avo's at $3.48 each in Woolies yesterday and they only had these New Zealand ones.  
I don't trust supermarkets.  There's about 10 isles of things no one should be consuming and the rest force you to purchase in excess of your needs and generously do their best to focus on price and value as opposed to your health, what you are doing for your community and your country. Two for $6 or 1 for $4 is not a bargain - you are getting ripped off for buying one, when you only need one. Buying ‘two’ forces excessive consumption and promotes gluttony. Not ethical shopping habits any of us need to be encouraged to embrace.  Bad for our health, bad for the environment.
It was the first time in a long time I'd been to Conspiracy Cube Co. (CCC) and I felt guilty, confused and had an overwhelming desire to purchase as little as possible - vowing to go back to my grocer.  In the end, I purchased my bread, having put other things back and left. Am I a new breed of consumer?
I buy my meat in bulk online once a month - it's ten times the quality of the supermarkets at equal to or better prices and they deliver it...The essentials and dry goods I also purchase monthly and online.  Perishables and fresh produce come from the local grocer down the road.  
I’ve discovered some key factors since changing my shopping habits some 12 months ago.  The first being you can actually have ‘better’ quality at a good price. Do some research online and find suppliers that are happy to give you wholesale prices for a monthly shop. Meat2U out at Tullamarine have a great, easy to use website for ordering and their meat and poultry makes a bloody mockery of the excuse for meat served up at CCC.  Scicluna’s in Mentone also do delivery runs, but I prefer to buy daily and their produce range is so much more diverse than the CCC and every single day, they deliver great quality fruit and veg at very competitive prices.  Yes, I’m on to it – I cross check their pricing against CCC still to this day because I can’t believe I can have a better shopping experience and better quality and range at the same, if not better pricing.
What I fail to understand is when people say they don’t have time to shop at more than one place.  In this day and age – that’s just not true. The majority of my shopping is done once a month and delivered to me. Apart from that, I might walk through Scicluans for some milk or veggies on my way home from work but that’s pretty much it.  I shop like this because I don’t have the time, nor do I want to spend the time, walking around in CCC.  That’s at least 2 hours of my weekend wasted.  It’s not an efficient use of time, promotes poor consumerism, used to cost me a fortune and is generally not a positive experience – I prefer to self-serve at the checkout, because the service is better!
For me, changing my shopping behaviour was about controlling my budget – shopping monthly allowed me to budget for the month. This then led on to finding that the quality was actually much better and it was a healthier way to shop. Not only were there no temptations but now I was supporting my neighbour’s businesses and family run shops.
This duopoly over our consumption feels so sinister to me. It’s only going in one direction really isn’t it?  CCC faces the challenge of driving up share pricing in an already over consuming environment. Any value they add to their shares is either coming from our pockets, or their suppliers. So we are either slowly paying more and more or the goods we buy are becoming cheaper and cheaper to produce – often through the use of synthetic fertilisers and other means which yield a lower nutritional product. 
Maybe it’s time we all got back in touch with our community, our land and our neighbours and started really challenging the way we shop. Go meet your local grocers and tell them you want to support them and if they don’t already offer the type of service you need, tell them, talk to them about it.
I truly believe that changing our shopping habits is an underlying opportunity to tackle some of our society’s key issues at the moment. Obesity, the environment, the lack of community and social engagement with our neighbours and even time spent with family.
Take the time to sit down and develop a domestic consumption strategy. Even develop a home mission statement for your family’s consumerism and identify key objectives to fulfilling that goal.  Then identify your suppliers and a shopping strategy that underpins those objectives if you really want to bring back good old fashioned home economics!
My point is, we are not controlling our consumption, and we are handing it to CCC on a platter. What we buy, what we eat, how we cook what we spend and even how much we buy is being dictated to us. It’s time to take back control and put the broccoli back.

Take back control and shop smarter for better health, for a better community and environment and you will wonder why you didn’t do it years ago!

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