Current Climate Shopping… and I don’t mean the weather

A small selection of the lovely Fairy Cakes on offer at the Treacle Market Macclesfield – last Sunday of the month – on the CocoaNokos Stall!

Shopping!  There’s not many people in our society that doesn’t love a bit of shopping!  Doesn’t have to be clothes, could be food or cars or even pots & pans; I think most people have a shopping weakness! Mine is most definitely house related things & food!  My weakness is sparkly, twinkly glass cake plates, especially pre-owned ones. I have strict limit on how much I will spend (well I say strict, this is obviously negotiable dependant on how wonderful it is!) I love nothing better than rooting (carefully!) through the pots & pans shelves in the local charity shops; it got to the point where one shop would save them for me!  I think I’ve got enough now… Yeah right, who am I trying to kid, you can never have enough, says the reckless, want it all side of my brain, whilst the other sensible, austerity aware, right all along side says, enough is enough.  It’s currently winning…

I’m finding this side of me kicking in more and more these days.  When shopping for food I’m asking ‘Do we really NEED this?, ‘Can we do without it this week?’.  I shop in Aldi, when I remember (habit is such a terrible thing, when you’re trying to change your shopping habits) and Sainsbury’s for pretty much everything else.  Then there are the wholesalers I get my bulk ingredients from but sometimes they’re more expensive than the supermarkets.  I try to buy my fruit & veg seasonally, to buy British and for it to have the lowest air miles.  To add to this I try very hard to avoid Tesco’s, I find their philosophy  jars with my own.

So lots to think about when just food shopping, it’s enough to make both sides of my brain to frazzle.  But that’s just me.  These things help me make my shopping decisions, if I think I know where the food I buy comes from, how it’s (roughly) made, it eases my conscience a little.

On top of all this, we now have ‘localism’.  Buying local, from local independent sources.  Keeps your well-earned pennies in your community,  investing right back at the source, underpinning the local economy, making your local high street stronger, making your community stronger, financially more secure, more diverse & more likely to survive the future.  Which is grand…  But can we, the consumer sustain and embrace that choice?  Especially when the supermarkets make many of their best sellers, loss leaders?  Tricky decisions to make… but only if these things matter to you in the first place.

Which brings me neatly to the question of what governs our shopping habits?  Is it cheap prices, or value for money or even social status, do we buy brands because they’re brands for example?   Or is it time…  The most precious commodity of all.

I think there is no right or wrong to this conundrum.  It would be grand if everyone had the time to buy from local growers for their fruit & veg, but have you the time to find where to buy from when the supermarket has it all there, would you buy all your staple groceries from the local independent shop, given they’re more expensive than the supermarkets due to buying power, especially for a weekly shop.  Surely there must be a compromise.  I think I know of one…

In our little town of Macclesfield, there’s been a bit of rebellion going on for some time, in the background for the main, but more and more in the limelight these days with the likes of our wonderful monthly Treacle Market, our Food for Macc and Wake Up Macc.  They’re giving the shopping habits we’ve fallen in to a good shake, literally from the ground up.  Giving the opportunity and access for those who might not think there’s any questions regarding our shopping habits, to actually question their own shopping habits; to think about where the pennies go when we shop, to wonder where our food comes from. They’re doing a grand job! Wouldn’t it also be grand if we could teach our children this, have it as part of the curriculum, although that maybe a wish to far in the current climate, but the thought is a start…

I’m not asking you to think like me necessarily, that’s a step too far for anyone to cope with, but I ask you to think about how you shop, to maybe wonder what happens to your well-earned pennies when you spend them in the supermarket, where do they go, does it benefit you directly, where does your food really come from & why.  Are you getting good value for money with your purchases, do you really need  to buy it all?  And I can highly recommend thinking about ‘localism’, where & when you can of course, a balance, to buy from the independent retailer; from the butcher who knows exactly which field his meat comes from, from the veg shop or stall owner who knows their spuds from their parsnips and know that your informed choice will look after the pennies, your community, your high street, not just for you but for the next generation too.  Makes it all taste nicer in my opinion!

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