Did you know that up to 30% of food we buy is wasted, estimated to cost the nation 5-billion plus dollars per year? Or that much of the food stored in super-markets goes out of date before being sold – meaning that the CO2 used to produce it was all in vain? A report by Woolworths in 2013 found that the big weekly shop is dead. Australians spend just 34% of their weekly food budget on their primary shopping day – they are increasingly using the supermarket like a pantry. That’s a win for the Big Super-Market Giants; not surprising that both Woolworths and Coles have increased their market share, at the expense of independent supermarkets (and the likes of IGA).
The Supermarket has been a pantry to me. Living close to town, having 2 young children and balancing our careers had my husband and I wearing a groove in the road between our house and Coles, but walking around the sterile florescent-lit aisles of the Supermarket has become a rather depressing chore for me.
I feel like a steer among other cattle. Like I belong deep down the consumer food chain of mass-produced merchandise; a bit like a drone, a number, a supermarket statistic. I am a little sick of the plastic, bright coloured packaging, excess wasteful wrapping, and the anonymous purchasing of items that litter my home and rubbish bins with thoughtless intent. Even the trolley has become something of a deformity as I push it around the store like some kind of walking frame on wheels.
I had not heard of breaking up with the Supermarket until recently. I came across a few related articles after looking into the psychology of supermarket selling. Since then, I have begun the journey of becoming more authentic & responsible about when, how and with whom I purchase. I am on a journey of face-palming the Supermarket giants, their price wars and incumbent glossy brochures. I refuse to see it as a ridiculous notion but something I can move towards as a conscientious and informed consumer (and not a steer). I want my food choices to be governed by my environment, my community and my connection to better health and inspired living. I am craving the faces behind conscious food products and community people.
Because I am dead-set sick of the monotony of mass-produced disconnected purchasing. I am certain that I can save money and contribute to saving the planet and local economy at the same time. It is important to me. A feel good challenge. Not a hopeless cause to exhaust my standards of perfection! I can be more specific with purchasing goods without being disarmed by the scale of mass-choice and pricing wars. I am tired of hearing about the lack of ‘community’ in my town when community is in fact all about being actively involved in the places, spaces and events that make it unique.
How to move away from a Giant Super-Market:
- Accept that the idea is brushing against a social ‘norm’. But you CAN live a healthy and more responsible life by visiting the Super Market less (or not at all).
- Being pro-active and organised about what you need. Start planning meals!
- Organise your vege/herb patch. You can grow so many of the daily foods we eat: Lettuces, herbs, beets, spinach, cucumbers ~ just to name a few! Have no lawn? Buy some pots.
- Source from local businesses – such as smaller Fruit and Vegetable suppliers, Independent bakeries or Grocers (such as IGA). Contact them and ask about deliveries and weekly running orders that can be packed into a box and picked up. Do they have loyalty incentives also?
- Visit your local Farmers Market. Buy some art while you are there. Beautify your home and kitchen with community produce and style! What could be better?
- Join others in purchasing bulk ingredients as a co-op. This often saves money and time and is a lovely social way to share recipes, ideas and other food-spiration.
- Start bartering in your neighbourhood or social network for garden produce swaps. Food gathering and cooking used to be communal, social and interactive. Not inane chores like they have become.
When you move away from Super-Markets you begin to lose the impulsive desire to eat junk or pre-packaged food. You lose the need to over-shop due to market trickery and product placement. It simply stops existing as that enormous wall of tantalising impulsive rubbish. It is no surprise to learn that supermarket shopping is a well researched psychological experiment. One of the first symptoms of treating my supermarket pantry-syndrome was how quickly my own pantry emptied of products and was replaced with functional healthy “ingredients”. I used to amble along the aisles trying to make informed and healthy decisions with 2 helicopter children in tow and by the end of the shop I often found myself with a cage on wheels full of products and produce I have little connection to.
Living wellness does not mean bucking the system, it means finding purpose in how you are living. I am not renouncing all supermarkets just yet (independents are shop worthy) – I am simply making a more soulful move away from them. Who knows where I will end up? Somewhere wonderfully happy I suspect. Like my garden…..
The following *businesses are supporters of local community shopping and chose to be part of this article out of integrity and commitment to the cause. Many have a loyalty system and contribute to community functions and events. More importantly they form a community of families who contribute to our local economy also. A few have been around for some time, maybe it is time to re-visit them? Some are new and it would be worth your while in connecting with them and their vision. Thank you to these business owners who graciously came on board! Click on the logo’s for more information….
*Greater Port Macquarie, NSW
Melanie Robinson is a Naturopath BHSc, Mother, health blogger & contributor to The Natural Parent Magazine. She lives in Port Macquarie, and works from The Complete Health & Wellness Center specialising in women & children’s health, natal care and holistic nutrition. Follow her on Facebook @ Earth Birth Beyond.