21 Aug 2010

Hestia and .......supermarket paralysis

Picture the scene, I have written my list of supermarket requirements for the coming week and am now standing in the first aisle of the Co-op....the chiller section of the fruit and veg aisle.

Muttering:  Right - beans.....beans......ah here they are........hmmmm - so there's a pack from Kenya or a pack from Holland.  OK - the ones from Holland are certified organic (casts an eye down to the price box) and that explains the price.  They look nice though.

I pick up the Kenyan packet.  Ah - these are less expensive, and also look nice.  BUT they're not organic.  Ah - and of course, they are from much further away, so there are all those air miles to consider.......Holland is a lot closer to us, so less air miles.

I put the Dutch beans in my basket and put the Kenyan beans back.....and then take the Dutch beans out of the basket and pick up the Kenyan  beans again.

Let's just think about this a bit more.  The Dutch beans will sell anyway, but what about those Kenyan farmers who are really DEPENDING on these beans being sold?  Even though they are not organic....they might be produced with hardly any pesticides and kinda BE organic, but just not satisfy a three word phrase of some fat-cat beaurocrat in Brussels or something in order to get that Organic stamp.

I look at the Dutch ones.  But these ARE organic.  The Dutch farmers have invested lots of money and equipment in ensuring that these beans are really going to be ok to feed to Sonshine.

I lean heavily on the huge, empty trolley: Well, lets just think about this a bit more.  It's probably VERY sunny in Kenya and not so sunny in Holland.  Hmmmm - have the Dutch put up huge polytunnels that use enormous quantities of air-conditioning - or even HEATING - to produce these beans?

I put the Kenyan beans in the basket and put the Dutch beans back on the shelf.

But Holland is in the EU and we're all struggling to keep afloat in this economic climate....should I be supporting my clog-wearing cousins over the water?

I stand in the aisle of the supermarket with my two packets of beans - totally paralysed  by the conflicting considerations rattling around inside my head like loose peas - I am unable to make a decision.

I put the Kenyan beans into the basket and regretfully put the Dutch beans back on the shelf.  Holland will be alright during a recession, but what about Kenya? Would they be able to quickly diversify if the arse falls out the bean market thanks to those enterprising Dutch?

I look doubtfully at the Kenyan beans in my basket....it has taken me 7 minutes to buy the first item on my shopping list.

I scan the other 40-odd items on my shopping list gloomily and wonder how many hours and just what kind of gibbering wreck I will be by the time I hit the furthest aisle and face the moral quagmire that is......

.....bottled water.


  1. LOL perhaps you'd better trade yourself in for an Irish Wolfhound, then these dilemmas will not bother you :D

  2. Almost everything we purchase these days has some moral quagmire to negotiate, from the ipod workers topping themselves from over work in China, to the pesticide ridden cotton fields in Uzbekistan where very small children work. Where possible, I try and buy from places I know (local farmers) or from companies that have recognized their responsibility in creating a fair environment for doing business (Timberland) Making decisions at the product level isn't possible any more, at least not for those with a conscience.
    You won't be having that problem with the eggs soon!

  3. Ha ha.I spend ages trying to make a decision too.Perhaps shopping on line would be easier?
    Or perhaps a vegetable plot??

  4. Oh you are so good, Alison ... I seldom go terrestrial shopping during the holidays as the nearest Tesco is 13 miles Sainsburys 19 miles and Morrisons 5 miles is full of smelly people.. so only visited if desperate.
    I consider the delivery charge cheaper than my petrol, and so just order from my favourite list.. I also have a touch of dementia so I need the list to remember what to buy...xx

  5. I often go through the same dilemma when supermarket shopping. In the situation you describe neither the Dutch nor the Kenyan would go in the trolley, I'd pick up something else instead which doesn't give me the same heebie jeebies.(Like locallly sourced veg, I'll happily put non organinc local produce in my trolley over organic but with a gazillion food miles) The only time I have no issue is when it's with things we can't produce here such as mangoes and pineapples. Drives my husband crazy, but keeps him on his toes as he would toss any old thing in the trolley without a 2nd thought. Or you could start an allotment - locally grown and organic??

  6. I bypass all of this by going to the local farmshop, of which there are 3 in Dundee.

    Even though it makes life difficult for you, I'm glad you have awareness and morals when shopping!

  7. I try and buy local produce where possible but it is really hard. We have an excellent farmers market on a Saturday so I buy a fair bit from there. I have stopped buying bottled water as I'm sure there can't be anything too dreadful in tap water. I've started drinking this stuff called Honegar instead of fruit juice or squash to cut down on sugar. It's supposed to have lots of health benefits. I'll let you know what they are when I've worked it out. Hope you've had a good weekend xx

  8. Ania - if I traded myself in for a dog, who would walk me?!

    Legend - I am minded of my friend who muttered aloud, in a sports shoe shop where we were trying to get trainers for our boys: '(brand name removed in case I get sued lol!) - made for children by children'. We laughed. But it's true :-(

    Wildernesschic - We have one supermarket here. Two branches of it, mind you. And a tiny Spar. Shopping online for food is a dream for me!

    Liz - can barely cope with garden! But must make greater effort over coming year to grow own stuff to eat!

    Snippet - I do try to grow veg AND I now also subscribe to a Veg Box scheme. More of which in a later blog :-/

    LM - I do try to get stuff from farm shops (and I'm very lucky in having some farming neighbours) but the island has v limited farming produce available :-(

    Christina - ooh looking forward to finding out about the mystery drink thing!

  9. I live in Ohio near a Kroger Marketplace. You would have a nervous breakdown shopping there. I nearly do myself.



  10. SB - Had to go google Kroger. I think you're right, I'd be a burbling MESS.

    Ali x


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