Sunday, 23 January 2011

Food, but not what your grannie would have eaten!

That supermarkets are such a bad thing for society in general, is a fact that really cannot be disputed. That they offer the customer very cheap food as well as the convenience of being able to do all of their shopping under one roof, is of little comfort when weighed against the many negative and potentially harmful consequences of their existence.

Supermarkets are of course businesses within a capitalist system, their bottom line is always profit. Despite their pronouncements that they are the customer’s friend, their only real concern is and has always been the accumulation of profit.

Here are just a few reasons why supermarkets, in their present form are an overwhelmingly negative drain on society.

1. The goods they sell as goods are would not have been recognised as fir for consumption as little as 30 years ago. Most of the products sold as food in these warehouses is noting more than industrial processed food like products

2. Much of this so-called food has been adulterated to make it easy to last. It is full of additives of every description, from stabilisers and emulsifiers to preservatives and colourings. Not to mention the growth hormones that are fed to animals to make them larger. To give the food longer shelf life, the produce has to be pumped full of additives.

3. Supermarkets are busy expanding all over the country, in the process destroying local communities. Every time one of these bemanoths moves into a local community, sees the death of small local shops, many of which have served the local community for years. For every pound that is spent in a supermarket only 20p (in wages), stays within the local area. Whereas for every pound spent in a local store, £1.36 is generated within the local economy

4. Supermarkets are only able to achieve such low prices by economy of scale, by having such large infra structures that enable them to service their stores in every part of the country. Consequently they are dependent upon oil to fuel their vast company of trucks, a commodity that is a main component of global warming. Local shops, by sourcing most of their products within their immediate area don’t need to consume such massive amounts of non-renewable energy in transportation so their CO2 outlet is fairly small in comparison.

Another way supermarkets can keep their prices so low, is by under paying their producers. Tesco give the highest price to milk producers, but they only pay 24p a litre, whereas the average small daily farmer needs at least 29 p a litre to break even. The consequence of this greed is that many small producers and farmers are forced out of business, unless they can find alternative markets to the supermarkets.

5. Supermarkets demand that their producers only supply them with the produce that looks 100%. This means that farmers have to throw away many more times the amount of produce then is actually sent to the stores. A carrot that is a little wobbly, or an apple that has a slight discolouring will be rejected by the supermarket buyers. Consequently, Britain throws away vast amounts of perfectly edible food. This is just unacceptable. But still the awful practice continues.

It’s a common fallacy that people with low levels of income have little choice then to shop at these supermarkets. My partner and myself have an income level considered to be under the poverty level. Yet we buy most of our food from local sources, and only eat organically. We do grow a lot of our own produce too yes, but still have to buy in a range if items. We make a choice though, we don’t need I players of plasma screen TV’s. 

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