Monday, November 19, 2012

shopping local

Slowly over the course of this year, I’ve been changing my relationships with supermarkets.

For the record – I hate them. I do everything I can to avoid them. I don’t mind them so much in foreign cities (Russia! So much vodka!), where they double as anthropology lessons. But Melbourne supermarkets? Shoot me now.

Beyond the ethics of the evil duopoly my local big supermarket has some added annoyances including fluorescent lighting that gives me a migraine, an increasingly limited range of small brands, gold coin unlocking of trolleys, ticket parking (free but you still need to grab one) and replacing employees with self-serve checkouts.

I’ve always minimized my supermarket shopping by buying my fresh fruit, vegetables, deli foods and other goodies at Vic Markets, during my weekly pilgrimage. But there are still pesky things like toilet paper and cleaning products (even bicarb soda and white vinegar are best bought in bulk) that see me at the supermarket every couple of weeks.

Other than the months that the Significant Eater is here (he worships the Big C & W in the same way that I adore the market, providing a nifty division of labour) I keep my forays to the fluorescent palace to a minimum. Though this year, I’ve implemented an entirely different strategy that works perfectly for the weeks that I’m home alone.

Walk, shop locally and buy only what you can carry.

A mere 15 minutes wander away is a great local IGA. Time-wise, the walk is about the same as the drive/park/ticket/trolley rigmarole. They stock an amazing array of food that I’ve never seen at Coles or Woolies and have an impressive range of vegan/dairy-free/wheat-free/healthy items. Of course they also have the basics, including the eco brands that I like that the big guys have ceased stocking.

My spine's a bit dodgy. I can only carry a medium sized backpack and not load myself up with extra bags, so it’s great for reducing impulse buys. I can usually fit just one. But the upside is a free workout and time to relax during the walk. This is my favourite multi-tasking, even more so when it’s a seamless segue from breakfast at one of my favourite local cafes.

The walk/shop/carry model mightn’t work for you, especially if you shop for more than one or two, or if you don’t get your fresh produce elsewhere. But it’s certainly helping me minimize unnecessary purchases – and get fit at the same time.

Do you love your local? What stops you from shopping there more often?

More on stimulating the local economy and saving money on food.

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Blogger Cindy said...

We do this too, albeit usually on our way home from work - I think you're probably right that it works best for small households. We have made a much bigger effort to avoid the Big Two this year, relying mostly on our vege delivery plus a Foodworks near home and a fancy grocer near Michael's work. There are still a couple of items we rely on Woolies for - cat litter, then the occasional frozen pastry and baking ingredient.

4:08 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Kitty litter is a monumental pain. What's the fancy grocer near Michael's work?

5:21 pm  
Blogger Sweets for all! said...

I detest the big two too.
We usually get our meats from Vic Market and our veg from Gangemi's greengrocers in Brunswick. I've taken a shine to La Manna out at Essendon and we head out there when we need things like dog food etc. Its a bit of a hike but far far preferable to shopping at either of the other two. Plus (added bonus) I discovered they do a magnificent gluten-free breakfast 'sandwich' which is delish!

5:29 pm  
Anonymous Catherine said...

I've been trying to reduce our supermarket dependence, but it's a bit difficult when a lot of the local shops are closed by the time I get home from work... also, of course, the downside of being five minutes away from both Woolies and Coles is that there are no IGAs within easy walking distance.

We get all our meat, eggs and milk delivered from a farm, and get a lot of veggies at the Farmers' Market but that does get expensive, I find (though the quality is great). And I have no solution as yet for the toilet paper / flour / tinned goods situation... though I need to find one, as our local supermarkets are definitely reducing their range of brands.

10:01 pm  
Blogger Cindy said...

Michael's fancy grocer is Vegetable Connection on Brunswick St. Great for extra veges. He's sometimes tempted by the dark chocolate too. ;-)

10:16 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

SFA - Ah dog food. Our animals require so much extra lugging around of groceries!

Catherine - location, location, location! The big 2 are so good at being in convenient spots. Even with the IGAs, there are a precious few that do it really well, like Piedemontes in Nth Fitzroy and Cardamone's in Fairfield. If I lived near Leo's in Kew, I don't think I could afford to shop there regularly. Price matters as well. And on affordability, don't get me started on Farmer's Markets. Most of the city ones are way overpriced and usually conventional. It's cheaper to get an organic box through Ceres or Food Connect.

Cindy - ah the fancy pants veggie shop. Know it well. That could get very deadly :)

9:07 am  
Blogger stickyfingers said...

Four years ago I wrote a blog post about our dismay at the tactics of The Big Two. Since then we haven't been back. Nor do we shop at their liquor stores, Thomas Dux or affiliated chains, hotels etc.

It cemented my move to eradicate packaged and processed pantry items from my cooking. And made me an economical and more savvy cook.

We purchased shopping jeeps and now purchase the bulk of our food at farmers markets. We are lucky enough to be a fifteen minute walk to the South Melbourne Market, where we get pet supplies, loose quantities of flour, pulses, Asian groceries and all manner of things.

One of the best things is as a regular to a market you get to know the stallholders and benefit from their knowledge. Which never happens in a supermarket.

We also shop along our local shopping strip. Independent Chemists are great for small quantities of toilet paper, toiletries and cleaning/laundry products. They IGA services Mr Sticki's ice cream habit, but that's about it. Aldi services his Milo and soda water consumption.

We also have the local White King Factory shop within strolling distance. I don't buy much there as we have created a pool of friends who share bulk cleaning and paper products from local manufacturer Milestone. For orders over $50 it's free delivery and they even stock some eco-cleaning items, rubber gloves, scourers, foil and glad-wrap.

I thought it would be hard to live without the supermarket, but it isn't for us. A bit of lateral thinking, pedal power, trollies and going on foot sees us able to support local small businesses too. I even get my office supplies from an independent rather than Officeworks - and they deliver.

I'm so glad we made this choice.

4:05 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Thanks Sticky. I wondered if anyone would mention Aldi. My first visit to the chain was aborted when there was only one person on checkout and more than 10 people in the queue. As we only had a couple of impulse purchases we decided to leave them behind and exit, rather than spend a very long time waiting at check out. The second was for a chocolate raid, the stuff they sell is remarkably good. But for everyday shopping there are just too many things I can't get on my shopping list to make it worthwhile.

1:10 pm  
Anonymous Murat said...

Ohhh Great. I liked.



5:48 am  
Blogger Sunnybrae and all who sail in her said...

I got lost in Airport West looking for Carrol Elecroplating who had moved from Brunswick, [they reline our pots] when I stumbled on a large supermarket called Lamana's it completely blew me away. A large Coles sized store but with a very proffesional wog sensibility plenty of imported goodies but the large signs all over the front proclaimed only Australian and New Zealand fresh produce. The quality was very good great diversity a four gang espresso machine and no zero large advertising anywhere. Its going to give Coles and Wollies a run for the market... there may be hope yet I'm sure its not the only one of its kind.

9:06 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Here's LaManna for those who are interested. Thanks.

11:02 am  

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