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French CanCan and I were wondering how y'all do your food shopping, what you buy, what you cook and how you eat. So we decided to run a survey. M. CanCan will, after a decent interval, collate the results and report upon them. So, it would be most super-duper if you would all answer our questions. Could you drop us a note in our guestbooks if and when you do? Thankee!
Here you go then...
Q1: If your yearly food budget was £100, how much would you say you currently spend in big retailers – eg supermarkets? Explain why you spend so much or so little there?
Oh, this is a good one! I've been on a mission to reduce the amount I spend at supermarkets for the past two years. Currently, my spend from £100 would be around £20-£25. Supermarkets have too much power. Increasingly, as they expand into ever more markets - insurance, telephony, internet access - they feel to me like Big Brother. I resent much of the food they sell - it is over-processed, nutritionally poor. I resent the effect their buying practices have had upon UK agriculture. I don't like the idea of eating food produced by abused labourers abroad. I think the "choice" they offer is illusory.
Q2: Are you aware of any food produce(s) made in your area specifically?
Yes, there's gazillions of it because I live in a rural area! Erm... ok. I buy the vast majority of my meat and poultry from an organic farmer and butcher on a farm about four miles from here. I buy about two thirds of my vegetables and all my eggs from a smallholding about a mile away. I buy trout from an organic farm three or four miles away. We have two brewers within walking distance and their beers are jolly good! Everywhere you look there are food producers where I live, and most of it knocks supermarket stuff into a cocked hat in taste, quality and even price!
Q3: Within the shop or shopping place where you spend the greater part of your food budget, can you find those area specific produces which are not mass produced? Do you buy any? Why?
Well, as you can see, I spend my food budget in multiple places! Should I go into town, though, I can find three good, independent butchers, a good, independent fishmonger and a good fruit and vegetable shop, selling a goodly proportion of local produce. One of the butchers has a fantastic deli, selling salads and dips and suchlike, all made on the premises. There are two bakers, one independent, one part of a small, local chain. However, I suspect both bakers use mass-produced proofing mixtures and I can't say that their bread is an improvement on the supermarket offerings, no. There is also a fabulous health food shop and this does sell scones and rolls which are not mass-produced and are very nice. Yes, I buy lots of things that are not mass-produced. I like to buy ingredients and make my own food. I can trust it and generally, it is far nicer than that factory pap!
Q4: Have you ever been to a street market around your area? If so, what did you like/dislike there?
There is a street market in town twice a week and a farmers market once a fortnight. I go to both. I like everything about markets. You can ask the stallholder questions and they will know the answers because it's their business. You can buy local products that you won't find in the supermarket. Our market has plenty of craft stalls, but two or three local nurseries always turn up, there's a lady who makes fantastic cakes, a couple of good second hand book stalls, and oh, loads. I love markets.
Q5: How far is your nearest supermarket? How far is your nearest frequent street market?
They are both five miles away, in the nearest town. However, my village and its closest neighbour both have mini markets - a bit like WI markets - in their respective village halls once a fortnight. You can buy the produce from people's back gardens, jams, chutneys, cakes. That sort of thing.
Q6: Have you ever bought bread at an independent baker? Do you have any independent baker nearby ? What do you think of these?
Oh, sorry, I answered this already already already. Yes. They're pretty crap. My nearest decent baker who uses unfuckedaboutwith flour and leaves his bread to prove overnight - or whatever it is you're supposed to do if you do it properly! - is in a seaside town about fifteen miles away. This is infuriating because his bread is WONDERFUL. The difference is phenomenal. Luckily for me, we go to the beach there fairly often and he also sells his flour, which I buy and use in my breadmaker at home. I can't get it quite as nice as his, but it's better than nothing!
Q7: Do you eat ready meals? If you do, is it for convenience, taste or other reasons? If you don't, why don't you?
I don't! We don't! Eurgh! Why don't we? Firstly, they are too expensive. Secondly, by and large they do not taste as good as home cooking. Thirdly, they are generally full of horrible, un-natural chemical and additives and/or filler ingredients. Fourthly, the sourcing of the basic ingredients is often dodgy to say the least - Thai chicken full of growth hormones, antibiotics produced by slave-labour in factories where the chickens lead an appalling life, anyone? Not for me, thank you very much.
Q8: Do you eat together as a household, or separately?
We eat as a family, almost every day. It's important, don't you think? It's also a pleasure. Conor and Kieran tend to do their homework while Michael and I prepare the meal. We're on hand to help, but we're not doing it for them. We gossip about the day. Then, we sit down and eat and gossip some more about the day. We laugh. We tell jokes. We eat decent food. It's a good hour and a half of the day. After that, like most families, I expect, we all wander off and do our own thing. That hour and a half a day is important to us though.
Q9: How do you do your food shopping? Online or offline? Why is this?
When I lived in London, I did most of it online - at Tesco and also via various online organic outlets. Now I live in a farming community, though, I do all my food shopping offline. For the first time in my life, there's an aspect to shopping that I actually enjoy: choosing my dinner. YUM!
Q10: Do you eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day?
Easily peasily squeezily. Erm... it's 6.30pm and today I have eaten: 1 banana and 1 glass of orange juice at breakfast, two carrots and an apple at lunchtime, broccoli and swede/carrot mash with dinner, together with a glass of apple juice. As I type, I'm eating a pear. That will be it for the day though, cos there's a large bar of Lindt in the cupboard!
Q11: Are you on a diet? What sort of diet? A lose weight regime? An allergy regime?
Er... no. I'm a skinny rat with no food allergies. HUZZAH!
Thassit then. Don't forget to let us know if you do the questions!