This recent horse meat scandal has been a game changing moment in the way we shop and how we consider the food we put into our bodies. The might of the supermarket has been ever increasing in recent years as they spread their coverage from out of town hypermarkets, to high street convenience, to petrol station forecourts. I was recently driving though West London and encountered a 200m stretch with a closed bakery and butcher, a very quiet greengrocer and to my frustration, 3 large supermarket convenience stores within such a short stretch. In a recent interview with the BBC, ex-Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy was controversially telling that the rise of supermarkets and closure of small shops is “part of progress” in society.
Is a society where large supermarkets with obscene marketing budgets falsely promote an illusion of healthy eating and provenance, the progress we want?
Behind the sadness of the untruth and controversy that is the horse meat scandal, there is a positive light as hundreds of thousands of consumers switch their shopping habits and are revisiting their local independent shops, as they seek out the provenance in their ingredients. Shopping at independent food outlets is more than just putting product in your basket. It is an experience where you can find out exactly where your meat and vegetables are coming from, how they have been grown and even get some recipe tips from the enthusiastic shop staff. I was recently at an independent food shop in Buckinghamshire and as I asked where the smoked paprika was located, the retailer asked with interest what I was planning to make that evening. This contrasts an experience at a supermarket where I asked for the location of the Quinoa, to be met with the words “Quin-what?”
Independent shops are the heart of a community
We all remember the thriving high street of the past, where people would flock to the local high street and shop at their independent butcher, greengrocer and baker. Independent high streets should be the centre of a community, the place that gives us a sense of belonging and trust to the community. In the next few weeks, we will emerge from the horse meat saga and there will be a new scandal plaguing the news. We urge you to think about the events and experiences through these weeks, the importance of provenance and the value of your local independent food retailers.
Please continue to support your local shops as they are the heart of our communities and the seed to an enriched life.