Snow was forecast for today and tonight in my small neck of the English woods. So looking into the fridge this afternoon I realised that Mr Midlife and I are all eaten up from Christmas and New Year, and therefore requiring a re-stock, especially as the girls and granddaughter are back with us again this coming weekend. And living in a small Lincolnshire hamlet it is quite possible that snow could cause a travel issue for us.
Hence my hasty visit today to the nearest Big Supermarket, the one I dislike using, to stock up on essentials for the coming few days. Meat was required, bread, vegetables and salad too, and milk and butter of course as staples. The rest we could have done without but don’t like to – shampoo, toothpaste etc.
Browsing the meat aisle I found as usual that it was virtually impossible to buy British meat. I wanted pork steaks – my family always enjoy pork and apple with vegetables and mash and a rich onion gravy. There were no British pork steaks; this I find particularly offensive as my family until recently have been traditional English pork farmers. This is what I finished up with.
I wanted sausage too as we like our cooked breakfast at a weekend. British sausage? Well yes to be fair – Leicestershire produced sausage made from 100% British pork. Thank you, I’ll have some of those.
Bacon was required as well; only Dutch or Danish was on offer to me – shame on you Big Supermarket.
And then milk – we get through pint after pint of milk in tea and coffee and by the great big glassful when the little lady is in residence. I picked up two large 4 pint packs of semi skimmed.
I personally prefer full cream milk but Mr Midlife switched to semi skimmed years ago thinking it better for his health. I’ve never been convinced that less fat in milk is better for you; I consider that full fat milk always served my forebears well, they all lived to a grand old age drinking it, and I reckon it’s essential for small children to have proper milk for their growth. I’m also not convinced that modern day full fat milk is in fact proper full fat milk, as I remember it, with cream on the top. Which is why I went along with Mr Midlife when he opted for semi-skimmed. My local Big Supermarket certainly does not serve me milk, blue top, green top or anything else, with cream on the top. I have no idea what they currently do with the creamy top we used to get on milk; I can only imagine fat cats lapping up the profits from that elsewhere these days. To be sure though – it doesn’t find its way on to my cornflakes.
And I just got really grumpy whilst doing the shopping because the things I wanted to buy were not available. I wanted British pork steaks. I wanted British bacon. I wanted British sausage (I got this I think). I wanted locally grown vegetables. And I really wanted full cream British milk. And I realised that to get proper full on everything British I really needed to shop somewhere else. Sadly. Which culminated in this –
“Dear Mr Big Supermarket, I will be more than happy to pay the proper going price for proper British food. Could you please stop offering me and my fellow ordinary British shoppers stuff from elsewhere across the seas when we already produce that very same commodity here in our own country. We are an island. I do not want to see foreign (that includes the EU) stickers on my food thank you very much, when I know that here in the UK we produce a large proportion of all the food our country requires. I do not want to pay £1 for 2.27 litres of watered down milk. I will gladly pay the going rate for proper full fat “cream on the top” pints like days of old. How much do you think that will be? You don’t know? Well, simply go ahead as normal and dream up a price, just to discourage me. Or preferably, and more honestly, ask the few remaining British dairy farmers to quote you a price, and go from there. Please.”
I try to use local family butchers; our small market town has eight or so great butchers’ shops supplying locally grown meat. The markets and family run greengrocers provide a very good range of locally produced fruit and vegetables. Except that today I couldn’t go to Louth; I was busy doing other stuff to earn a living, to pay for our food.
And that’s where Big Supermarket wins. Unfortunately. We have inadvertently, which equates to thoughtlessly in truth, created for ourselves a world where we are dictated to by the big players. We have allowed this to happen. And now have to live with it. Or do we?
No. We do not. We absolutely must actively fly the flag for British producers and for independent businesses. Buy food locally. Give the supermarket a miss. From now on I will try extra hard to do that more than I already do, because today’s shopping trip for everyday essentials has upset and annoyed me.
This week’s news was all about the UK dairy farmers, struggling to make a living. They are not making a living currently though are they? They are running at a loss. And they are packing in. At an alarming rate. Terrible, terrible news. Once gone, they can never be revived. It’s not like stopping laying carpets for a living. Or giving up painting and decorating. In those jobs you could quite easily go buy more rolls of Wilton or a couple of tubs of emulsion if you decided to do so. To become a dairy farmer from scratch would require huge costs and effort and the buying of a farm and acres of land and a milking parlour. Oh, and not forgetting a milking herd you’d need to find and invest in of course. It would be a whole different ball game wouldn’t it? I’ll say again – once gone, our dairy farmers are gone for ever. How much do you value your milk?
Or your pork for that matter? Or your bacon? Same scenario. Or anything else that is intrinsically British?
If you care, change what you buy. And where you buy it from. That’s all.