Author Topic: Borough Market (London) makes me sad and frustrated  (Read 1215 times)


  • Quiet please
Borough Market (London) makes me sad and frustrated
« on: December 22, 2008, 10:13:03 pm »
It's been a gradual process. Supermarkets were attractive at first because they were cheap, had everything under one roof and had parking. More people used them, and the independent retailers struggled to survive, and as they fell by the wayside, supermarkets became the only option. As they became more powerful they became the only option for many producers to sell to, and then they started to dictate what producers should produce and tried to justify it by telling us that we wante\d 8 perfectly round and red tomatoes to the pound, four perfectly round and green apples to the pound etc, when really it just makes it easier and cheaper for them to pick, store and pack. The amount of food rejected by supermarkets because it doesn't fit their cosmetic ideal is immoral and disgusting. And in order to ensure that supermarkets never run out of stock - because the world would end if we can't get exactly what we want exactly when we want it exactly what they want us to buy exactly when they want to sell it to us, they developed ways of picking crops far too early and putting them into chill storage for months, so when it gets to us it looks great and tastes of nothing.

And we got used to it. We expect to be able to have strawberries in January, even though they cost a fortune and taste vile. We go to a restaurant in December and order asparagus and don't think to wonder how that can be. It never occurs to us that perhaps nature arranged things in a very clever way, making sure that what is available in this country naturally at this time of year is what we need - good solid stodgy veg to keep us warm and fill us up in winter. Potatoes and carrots and turnips and cauli and broccoli and sprouts and parsnips  :sick: and barley and oats - warm comforting food. Who wants cucumber in weather like this?

And now we're so divorced from the reality of food production that my mother's neighbour won't eat the organic carrots my mum grows in her garden because my mum manures her garden with muck from Whittaker's stables and it's not nice to eat things that have had poo on them  ::-) (a lesson some people here would do well to learn  :P) and the neighbour's little boy won't eat the delicious strawberries my mum grows because "a slug might have walked on them." And people in Kenya turn their land over to growing green beans for us to eat in February for slave wages which don't let them buy enough to feed themselves, and poison themselves growing roses for us to have all year round although home-grown ones look nicer, smell better and last longer.

And we don't even have to pay that much more for salad vegetables in winter because the supermarkets can afford to buffer the cost so we don't notice that prices remain more or less the same all year round. We pay far too much for them when they're in season here, and far too little when they're not.

I stopped using supermarkets for my main shop a few years ago. I'm lucky, there's a farm shop nearby, which delivers. I order from there, and they deliver it to me on Fridays. They specify where their produce comes from, they get as much from local farms as they can, and stuff from further away costs more. If you want a Scottish cucumber in July, you'll pay £1 or so. If you want one imported in January, you'll pay £3.50. I don't often go to the weekend farmer's market in Edinburgh, but I think I'll try that more often next year. I noticed a difference the first time I got veg from the farm shop - remember when you were little and you scraped a carrot, you were enveloped in a fresh, pungent carroty smell? I never really realised that was missing from supermarket carrots until I went back to local ones. Fresh local produce tastes so much better than months old cold stored supermarket stuff.

Supermarkets don't give us what we want, they give us what they've convinced us we want because it suits them.