Anthony Davison at local food and drink website www.bigbarn.co.uk explains how shopping locally can shave pounds off your food bill and help you eat better.
When it comes to convenience, I admit it, you can’t beat the supermarkets. But if you’re looking for freshness, local produce and the chance to reduce your shopping bill, then trust me, buying locally is the answer.
What many people don’t realise is that the supermarkets want to achieve huge margins so they buy produce as cheaply as possible, often giving the farmers little to no profit, and then they boost the cost massively when it hits the shop shelves. I know this as my family are onion farmers and the mark up on their onions can be as much as 100% in the supermarkets. The sad fact is, the farmer earns only about 9p of every £1 spent in the the supermarkets.
So Why Is Local Shopping Any Different You Might Ask?
Surely these businesses want to make a profit too? Well, yes, of course they do, but the difference is farm shops, grocers, corner shops and farmers markets cut out the middle man. These businesses aren’t paying hundreds of pounds in fuel prices and dealing with huge distributors, instead they deal directly with local farmers and producers, often in their locality or region. And, because of this reduction in the supply chain they can pay the farmer a fair price, sell the produce for much lower than the supermarkets can and still make a tidy profit.
I know for a fact that I can lug home two carrier bags full of fruit and veg from my local farm shop for about £15, whereas I’d be lucky to get all the veg I needed for that price in the supermarkets, let alone fruit as well.
Enjoy A Broader Variety Of Foods
The other fantastic thing about shopping locally is a chance to enjoy a broader variety of foods, often the supermarkets don’t sell British cherries, or a range of British plums and because they are clogged full of imported apples, even during our plentiful apple season there may only be two or three varieties on the shelf. Farm shops love local, therefore they love variety too. Expect to see a range of different apples, plums, pears and cabbages, enjoy locally- grown asparagus, purple sprouting brocolli, greengages, cobnuts and tomatoes of all different colours, shapes and sizes. And strawberries? Forget bog standard Elsanta, any good grocers or farm shop will sell a raft of different varieties to savour.
One question I always get asked when people consider going against the grain and ditching the one-stop supermarket shop, is that they’ll miss their bargains. Well, the truth is, supermarket bargains don’t really exist, especially not on fresh produce. Do you really need two punnets of strawberries or 2 bags of apples for £4? The produce is likely to deteriorate before you eat it, which will mean wastage and money down the drain. It is false economy. You are much better off going to your local farm shop, tearing off a bag, filling it up with just the amount you need for the week and avoiding throwing good food away. Plus, you’ll save on recycling!
You can also rely on your local shop to pass on any big savings to you. Every year certain areas of farmers enjoy huge gluts, meaning they have far more produce than ever before and therefore to avoid wasting it, they sell it cheaper than normal. Whereas the multiples will take advantage of these gluts to make a profit, smaller shops will pass on the savings. Meaning you could enjoy the cheapest onions, lettuces, cabbages or strawberries possible – plus they’ll be local, fresher and won’t have travelled halfway across the country to end up in your basket.
Shopping Locally Makes Sense
So, even a small change such as buying your fruit and veg from your local grocers or farm shop could make a huge difference to farmers in our country and to your bank balance.
To find farm shops, delis or producers near you, take a look at our food map www.bigbarn.co.uk