Some of us decided to take up the challenge of No Supermarket September to see how possible it would be to use just the city’s local businesses for our regular food shopping. This was a real opportunity to check out of the supermarket conveyor belt for a while!
We were filled with trepidation and a little bit daunted by the idea, imagining big challenges – where would we get the time to shop in more local, sustainable way? Would we be able to get what we needed from alternative outlets? Having to work around busy schedules and being working parents meant that this way of shopping could certainly be a challenge. But the answer, we soon discovered, was yes we could. Not only was it feasible, but it turned out to be a great experience!
Where did you shop, I hear you cry? Well, this was difficult at first (it meant a change of mindset as much as anything), but once we started to discover local traders we found there were enough of them, but there is definitely a need for more. If you want to support your local traders you can, and you can get most things you need without having to step into a big supermarket.
For fresh fruit and vegetables there was of course the option of veg box delivery but we also really enjoyed shopping on the city market, where there is a great choice of fresh, ripe, and delicious produce, at really fantastic prices. The city market also provided us with fish, cheese and meat and even pet food.
For bread we discovered that the Italian deli’s, Chinese and European shops were a great source, and we also baked our own. For staples such as flour, sugar, tea coffee, organic pulses and so on we used Backyard Foods, the organic wholefood shop at The Green Backyard.
The added value of this challenge was reconnecting with the high street. It made shopping much less of a chore. We started to build relationships with shopkeepers and market holders, and created a great rapport with local shops. Being able to talk to people about our choices and try delicious new food we hadn’t thought of using before was a great added benefit.
In addition to this we found that we were spending far less money on our weekly shop, which was a big surprise! Not only were we not buying as many things we didn’t need (and reducing food waste), local traders do actually offer competitive prices and were often much cheaper than supermarkets.
In truth the supermarket can be more convenient, BUT, you CAN get everything you need without stepping foot in one, at the same time as having a much more enjoyable experience and making some new friends along the way, whilst supporting our local economy. In the end, we found that supermarkets offer a lot of convenience, especially in terms of opening hours, but at a minimum, there is plenty of space to at least supplement your weekly shop with local traders.