Sunday, 24 March 2013

Food, Fuel and Frugal Frolicking

Compliance with one of my 2013 spending rules is really awry.  Give or take a little cheat or two,  like lino printing supplies and a couple of bottles of wine for lone consumption after particularly trying days at work, I've done rather well on adhering to my own self imposed regulations about what I can and can't buy.  What's not going to plan is my vow to source 50% of stuff from local suppliers.  This is much more tricky than I thought.

For starters, supermarket food shopping is so easy for all the obvious reasons.  Everything under one roof,  the range of goods on offer, ease of parking blah, blah, blah.  But are all these large stores off limits?  Waitrose is owned by its employees in partnership and the Coop's profits go to its members. That includes me!   Do these stores therefore meet my criteria of being local businesses?  Can I buy halloumi from them guilt free rather than wandering around half the little stores in Devon to find a pack?

And then there's the nubby question of fuel. There are no oil reserves around here so none of my diesel is sourced from Devon.  Aren't all the petrol stations reliant on the big petroleum suppliers to provide their stock?  I know that most of the local garages are independently owned so is their fuel 'kosher' as far as I'm concerned?  If it's not I'd just have to rely on shank's pony, public transport and a pushbike.  Not practicable at all in a rural area where I'm reliant on my car for work and pleasure.

I've done a bit better as far as my social life is concerned, avoiding chain restaurants and pubs in favour of independents.  Lou and I liked the pizzas at  Aglio e Olio in Plymouth  just as much, if not a little more than our old favourites at Pizza Express.  But how local is local.  The Old Market House in Brixham with it's lovely fresh fish and chips is one of my favourite haunts but it's owned by St Austell, a Cornish company.   That constitutes another country in the view of some of its citizens so is that allowed?  And talking of foreign, what about fairtrade goods.  Are they off limits.

Aaaaaaah!  I'm overwhelmed.  This particular rule must be mulled over and firmed up.  In the meantime I'll just keep trying my best to make informed purchases rather than those where I haven't engaged my brain at all!


  1. Hi! I've been reading your blog for awhile but never commented.
    I feel the same confusion when shopping for food items. I live in the US (Northeast) and find it very difficult to stick with the "local" products only rule. For us, local produce only comes in summer months and the rest of the year we have produce from warm places like South America. Even though I do have a butcher shop in my town, he gets his meat and poultry from a farm upstate New York (I live in New Jersey). Is that considered local? I don't think so. The fair trade items come from South America usually where coffee beans grow and other items. So, it's very confusing and I can't do a decent shop if I try to keep to the local rule. There wouldn't be anything in my cart!

  2. Hi,

    I think it's easy to get bogged down in this stuff, we probably all have to a greater or lesser extent. Quite a while ago I went to a green event where this question was raised. The "expert" there suggested applying the rule of "LOAF" first local, then organic, then animal friendly finally fair trade. Makes sense.

    I think it's just a case of deciding what's the most important thing to you and going with that. It may mean the goalposts shift but at least you're being mindful about your choices.