Well, it’s been two and a half months, and have I managed to avoid supermarkets altogether? No. But I’ve only been once, and that was for some Emergency Frozen Peas (little things that are difficult to get down the farmers’ market). Mostly it’s been easy – I buy non-fresh groceries like beans and nuts, tofu, rice, chocolate soy milk, espresso coffee, washing up liquid and toothpaste in bulk every three months from Suma, a radical workers’ co-operative based in Leeds. (There’s a £250 minimum spend hence the buying in bulk). I buy local organic fresh fruit and veg mostly from the Riverside Farmers’ Market on Fitzhammon Embankment in Cardiff City Centre every Sunday, and more exotic stuff like ginger and lemons and avocados from the greengrocer over the road from me – Laura’s on Cowbridge Road East.
I’ve had to be a bit canny with certain things – dishwashing sponges and washing up gloves from pound shops, crisps from the local newsagents etc. But mostly it’s been piss-easy.
I did it because I was popping over the road to Tesco at least once a day and was annoyed with myself for it. Tesco is ethically verboten for so many reasons, scoring a pathetic 2.5 points out of a possible 20 in the Ethical Consumer index. What tipped the balance for me was their unquestioning support of the badger cull. If I don’t like a company I don’t give them my money – Nestle, Nike, Esso and Coca-Cola are all on my no-buy list, to think of a few.
So it’s been ace, not giving my hard-earned pennies to the big shops, but I know I’m privileged to be able to do this for a few reasons:
- I work from home, so am able to pop to smaller independent retailers like greengrocers in the daytime when they’re open
- For the same reason, I’m able to wait in all morning for my Suma delivery
- I have my own house, so enough storage to keep 3 months’ worth of non-perishables
- I am able to save enough money to buy £250-worth of groceries at once
- I live within walking distance of the Farmers’ Market and also some great little independent shops
And then I done set up a wholesale food collective sort of by accident
After a friend asked me if she could buy some stuff alongside me on my next order, I got to thinking how maybe more people would like to buy healthy organic food from a radical workers’ co-operative at trade prices and that maybe they couldn’t because of not having £250/storage space/not being at home to receive the delivery. Maybe if I asked other people they would also want to order alongside me and my friend, and between us we could order £250-worth every month, thus not needing to save up for an order or store kilos of kidney beans. People could then collect their order from me in the evening when they were back from work, or I could deliver it in my lovely camper van. If they wanted delivery I would request a £5 donation which would be used to buy more food from Suma and donate said food to Cardiff Food Bank, for local people who are struggling to buy food.
So far nine of my friends have expressed an interest and more catalogues are winging their way to me from Suma to pass on. Which is ace! I may open it up to more people depending on how much hassle it is – wouldn’t it be great if everyone had the opportunity to buy cheap, healthy, ethical food?