I am a fervent supporter of shopping locally and encouraging local produce as I know it will be vital to our future as we come to the end of a fossil fuel economy, but Anne Lanyon-Hogg’s article in the September Clock made me realise that what I do in practice doesn’t yet fully match my thinking or my rhetoric so I gave this some thought.
I realised that I have a major learning exercise to go through. I grew up (I am 65) in the sexist age when men didn’t do household shopping and shops were generally only open when men were at work or on Saturdays when we were exhausted and expected to be waited on.
When our 3 children were young in the early 70’s I started my household shopping apprenticeship (it was still relatively unusual for men to be actively shopping rather than just occasionally pushing the cart). It was in supermarkets, slowly I learnt about appropriate package size so stuff wouldn’t go off or run out too soon, then it was date stamps, label reading to avoid additives, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, later still fair trade and no air miles if possible. I started to be able to think in meals rather than lists and all these tempting treats started to appear more and more on the shelves and freezer cabinets and then they were in my cart. The bills grew and grew: most visits there were things in the cart that weren’t on the list or in my head when I entered the shop. Now I know that the cost of a trip to the supermarket with the fuel to get there is considerably more than some sensible local shopping.
I am now a furtive experimental local shopper. I do it rather tentatively and I am enjoying the conversations and the sense of being part of a community. I have a pang of conscience when I drive by with an excuse “I am going to Malvern anyway so I might as well shop there”. The people who serve me in the local shop, some of whom I now know by name, always seem to welcome me despite that fact that I keep lapsing into my old habits. Clearly I have been addicted and it is going to take some time to retrain myself, but there is some real hope as when it is not raining I can do my shopping on my electric scooter and feel very virtuous.
Colwall Greener would like to start a Local Traders Support Group anyone interested contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 07973 721 809 there is much we could do and enjoy doing to help the traders and break our own habits.