Tag Archives: supermarkets

Tea, Tact and Talent

We sat under the awning to eat lunch and drink freshly brewed mint tea and the first thing I saw was a large reddish brown dragonfly. It was about twelve feet up in the air and flying strongly so after consulting the internet I’m thinking it may have been a brown hawker. They are widespread and common, so it seems like a good ID. I’m always suspicious when people like me (with little knowledge and an internet connection) claim to have seen a rarity. Unfortunately I didn’t have the camera but if I had I doubt I would have got a meaningful shot.

As we ate, I was concious of a lot of movement and raucous calls in the trees that line the boundary. Eventually two wrens popped out. There may have been more, they move so fast I’m never quite sure. Once they decided to show themselves they spent a good ten minutes perching on fence rails and the edges of raised beds. Oh, for that camera again!

I like wrens, though they always sound so cross.

Last Saturday, I spent the afternoon at a food festival run by a local school. It’s completely out of context here, but I’ve nowhere else to put it. I was surrounded by people giving out free food, mainly fruit, which was irritating because I couldn’t get away to eat any. As we packed up I did notice that someone had a poster up claiming they could sell you a vitamin supplement to make your kids more intelligent. They haven’t met mine.


I suspect that it was mainly snake oil, though the weren’t the only ones peddling a good line in…er…the latest fad. Note how I select my words carefully. Note how I carefully add a link there too, in case anyone thinks I am accusing local vitamin pedlars or being cruel to snakes.

I’d watched Saturday Kitchen before going to the fair and Jay Rayner had stated quite clearly that there was no such thing as a superfood – just a marketing opportunity. Now, I’m not qualified to judge, but I do find merit in his argument that a varied, balanced diet is healthier than a load of superfoods.

Imagine my surprise upon finding myself next to a stand from a well-known supermarket and two staff members who kept saying “It’s a superfood, you know.”

Now, I’m not one to bear grudges, but that particular supermarket branch refused to let me have a day there for bag packing when Nottingham Outlaws Juniors needed new shirts. When I applied to their community fund for backing they turned us down. And when Julia tried to see if there was any way we could work together on the education side we were told that they only worked with farms that supplied them. It’s a good thing that I’m not one to bear grudges, as I say.

I was tempted to quote Jay Rayner, and I was also tempted to say that the best thing about chia seeds is the hour of amusement you get from picking your teeth after eating. But I didn’t, after all, do we really need more sarcasm and ridicule in the world?

Unfortunately, though I’d like to share a photo with you, I don’t think it would be ethical. Plus I’m having trouble cropping it to hide identities


. However, there’s a message on the shirt – “Farm to Fork – I’m helping children learn where their food comes from”.

Their table was heavy with water melon, mango, avocado, pineapple and chia seed, so I suggest that they must be teaching kids that  a lot of food comes from far away.

The eyes in the top picture are something Julia bought – we are rehearsing for Britain’s Got Talent. We don’t have much talent so we should fit right in.







Price and Predjudice

I was speaking to someone last week who tells me his brother in law has been ploughing vegetables back in because the supermarkets won’t pay him enough to make it worthwhile to harvest them.

It seems wrong, but where does the fault lie? The farmer has to take the most cost-effective route because he has a business to run. By ploughing he’s also saving the emissions that go with harvesting and he’s also incorporating organic matter into the soil.

The supermarkets? Along with farmers and the European Community they are one of our favourite villains. The French Government has just started to do something about supermarket food waste, but to be fair they are driven by the customers and if the customers want cheap food the supermarkets have to provide it. It’s like the Free Range Egg thing again. There was a time about 25 years ago when around 80% of people said they wanted non-cage eggs because of welfare considerations. Then for years they carried on buying the cheapest (battery) eggs.

So if it’s not the farmer and it’s not the supermarkets who is at fault.?

Looks like it’s me. I like parsnips, and I particularly like cheap parsnips. It suits me to buy a bag for pennies. Having said that, I made a lot of soup last year from the carrots and parsnips we bought for pig food. Those were really cheap and in soup you can’t tell the difference. I was taking them off the stack, by the way, not wrestling the pigs for them!

In other ways I’m quite responsible. Sometimes I look enviously at the more exotic or out of season veg and I admit I do buy sweet potatoes. I do, however, try to avoid Guatemalan asparagus, Kenyan beans and (in summer) Moroccan tomatoes. Although I try to base my buying decisions on air miles and nutrition these days I have previously based decisions on politics and xenophobia (as in refusing to buy French apples) when we had plenty of good apples ourselves.

So, to sum up, I compost, I grow organically and I buy cheap food from supermarkets if it’s reasonably local, seasonal and not politically abhorrent. I’m doing my best on a limited budget, though I’m not entirely logical.

The average politician, it seems to me, isn’t that bothered about sustainability and gets paid a sum roughly equivalent to the riches of the Indies (look up their multiple jobs in the Register of Interests).

No wonder they can’t formulate a logical food policy if it has to be based on me.