How to Stop Shopping in Supermarkets

Edited to contain locally-specific information! Originally printed in The Ecologist on 01/09/2004. theecologist.org

1. ALTERNATIVES TO SUPERMARKET SHOPPING

A. Shop in small, independent local shops
B. Support local farmers

  • Go to farmers markets
  • Use farm shops
  • Sign up for [an organic CSA box]
  • Use the Ecologist Green Pages (free with every issue of the Ecologist) to find local and organic food suppliers across the UK

C. Grow your own fruit and vegetables
If you don’t have a garden, find out where your nearest [community garden] is. [If you can’t find one, go out and create one! Neighborhood Vegetables and Transition North Oakland can help you get connected. Please email Laurenceofberk@aol.com or sign up for our Transition Town North Oakland email list and write us a note on the group discussion page.]

D. Help set up new methods of local distribution

  • Collective Buying Co-ops

Banbury Wholefood Coop was created in the late 80’s, when ten households around Banbury, Oxfordshire came together and began to order food in bulk. They hold meetings every six to eight weeks where members order their groceries. They purchase goods from a wholesaler with ethical policies that influence which product lines they stock. Because they buy in bulk, the Co-op generally benefit from lower prices. [The COG was a locally-run collective purchasing co-op where you could buy all the things you can get at the grocery store at a discounted price because they bought directly from wholesale suppliers. Take a look at their story here: http://the-cog.org/]

  • Community Supported Agriculture

[Locally, check out Phat Beets Farmers Markets and CSA. Profits support North Oakland markets in areas without sufficient access to fresh produce – located at Children’s Hospital, St. Martin De Porres School, and Arlington Medical Center – and local farmers.] Tumblers Patch Pig Co-op is a small scheme where members rear pigs for their own consumption. 12 people committed £1,000 each, rearing nine organic pigs on a 0.25ha plot. This worked out to £1.58 per kilogram of meat. Members commit to a feeding rota, which takes about half an hour a day and members must pay if they miss their turn. Tim Baines, the organiser, said, ‘Members really felt that they were taking responsibility for their food production, especially those who accompanied the pigs on their final journey to the abattoir’. See http://www.cuco.org.uk more on community supported agriculture schemes or call 0117 914 2425.

2. SIGN UP TO ANTI-SUPERMARKET CAMPAIGNS

Not shopping at supermarkets and sourcing as much of your food and goods locally is already a huge step in undermining supermarket dominance, and ensuring the survival and growth of your local community. If you’ve got more energy and want to take the fight to them, then here is a current list of campaigns running against supermarkets:

Fight Supermarket Power
Press for change and fight the supermarket bullies by contacting your local MP to strengthen the supermarket Code of Practice, and make sure it’s enforced.
Go to http://www.foe.co.uk/ campaigns/real_food/ press_for_change or call Freephone 0808 800 1111

Campaign for healthier food
Good food should be tasty, nutritious and safe to eat – so why is our food a major cause of preventable diseases such as obesity, cancer and strokes? Go to the Food Commission’s campaign for safer, healthier food. See http://www.foodcomm.org.uk/ or call 020 7837 2250

Breaking the Armlock
A new alliance of 14 farming, environmental and consumer organisations calling for stricter controls over the major supermarket trading practices. Go to http://www.breakingthearmlock.com Fair Prices for Farmers FARM – the independent voice of farmers – regularly takes on the power of supermarkets on behalf of farmers and the general public. Get involved in their Milk Campaign, which highlights the wide values that are being lost as thousands of dairy farmers go out of business.
Go to http://www.farm.org.uk or call 0207 352 7928.

Farmers for Action
Campaigning for a sustainable level of income for farmers and growers.
Go to http://www.farmersforaction.org or call 01291 690224

Sustainable Food Chains Project
Go to http://www.sustainweb.org to campaign against the social and environmental problems of long distance transport of food

Organic Campaign
Put pressure on the government and supermarkets to increase the amount of home-produced organic food for the UK market.
Go to http://www.sustainweb.org or call 020 7837 1228.

3. START YOUR OWN LOCAL CAMPAIGN
Is a supermarket planning to open in your area? Several groups across the country have are fighting similar schemes in their areas. Corporate Watch provides an excellent resource pack detailing how to start your own campaign, and giving contact details for other campaigns and stories of what they have done. Download it at http://www.corporatewatch.org.uk/pages/check_out_chuck_out/intro.htm or call 01865 791 391.

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