Since the first of November we have been attempting to do all of our shopping in local shops and markets, avoiding supermarkets and chain stores. We always knew that it would be difficult to make this work and as often happens work and life have given us their own challenges to contend with along the way. We stuck with it and two weeks into the E17 shopping challenge this is how we are getting on.
The first weekend we decided to stick to the high street and market for everything we needed to buy, so off we went on the Saturday morning to the top of the market ready to do battle with the shopping trolleys. Feeling like hunter gatherers in a brave new world we looked at the list and right at the top was fruit & veg. One thing that Walthamstow Market has by the bucket load is fruit & veg stalls and we were really unsure which one to buy from. We picked a stall near Lloyds TSB and after a bit of browsing we told the stall holder what we wanted, not expecting the rolled eyes and laugh that she gave us in return. So what had we said that was so funny? turns out it was the quantity, there are only two of us and large amounts of veg would just go to waste so we had asked for three carrots and a cauliflower. Most stalls sell by the bowl and don’t like to break down in to smaller quantities, we reached a compromise by taking some spuds and that seemed to keep the stall holder happy, but at our next stop we ended up buying enough onions to sink a ship.
Working our way down the high street we picked up the rest of the things we needed including some fantastic cakes and bread from Artisan Foods on the bottom of the market. The good news in that the shop was much cheaper than it would have been in Sainsburys, it was also really nice to have veg as they were intended to be, the smell of earth on the potatoes a reminder of how sanitized supermarket produce can be.
The results of our first market visit
Whilst the shopping was cheaper it took much longer than our usual quick whizz around Sainsburys, and as we found out the quality of produce from some stalls isn’t always that great so you do have to indulge in a bit of poking and prodding to find the best stuff. It’s nice shopping in the open air instead of the artificial light of the big stores and the crys of the market traders are far more atmospheric than the ‘bing bong’ two for one announcements that fill the air in the supermarkets. Fruit and veg is the easy bit, with the Market, Farmers Market and a number of independent shops we are spoiled for choice (time permitting). I expect that things will start to get trickier as the month progresses and supplies start to run out.