Thursday, 18 February 2016

Take the Power of Your Pound Back

I've long been of the opinion that as consumers we should, in theory, have the ultimate power over big-business brands. After all, they rely on us to hand over our pounds so they can turn them into their profits. So why do I find myself learning consistently that I am not getting good value and not getting the food that I thought I was getting? Expose after expose reveals the tricks these billion-pound industries pull on the public to convince us that we are buying healthy nutritious products. 

I get tired of bending over backwards to eke out the smallest bit of nutritional information that is of any use. Supermarket staff cannot, or will not, tell you detailed information about their products, nor can you find out the provenance of their goods in any detail. But this makes it all too much like hard work, so, for the majority, it is just easier to fill the trolley with whatever looks like a good deal and not think to hard about it. 

I'm sorry if that sounds like a bleak view of our food. So how can we grasp back control; how can we make our pounds have power again. 

This Lent one campaign has been encouraging people to Go Local 4 Lent, the aim is to encourage people to  give up supermarkets until Easter. It's a great way of kicking the supermarket habit and starting to put our pounds into the hands of someone who we think might want to simply make a reasonable living, rather than build a multi-billion pound off-shore empire. 

More than this though, when you buy food from a local shop you are face-to-face with the person who sourced it and who will be more than willing to talk about where it came from and who produced it. In fact they will probably take a great deal of interest in knowing what you think of it - have you tried giving that sort of feedback to one of the supermarket giants? I have and it felt like dropping a stone down a well, only I didn't hear the splash at the bottom. 

I'm pleased to say in our area we have seen two new local shops open: a retail bakery, and a greengrocer, both are interested in their food. 

My Grocer! 
Shopping in local shops is democratic: it really matters to these small businesses that you come back, and that you like what they do. In Tesco (other supermarkets are available to be avoided) you are simply a number on a Clubcard with customer data to be extracted in return for fake offers that suit your needs. My local grocer knows my needs and delivers them in a box each week with lovely fresh bread and local produce. She knows my name and knows what I like and don't like, not because of data in a swipe card but because I told her what I like and don't like. 

So join the gentle revolution, take the power of your pound back. Choose to whom you give it rather than allow it to be siphoned of by faceless corporate entities that would have you think you have no choice. 

You do have a choice; you do have power as a consumer.