Focus Corner

More suprisingly tasty recessionary bites

June 9th, 2009 by   (View Author Profile)

hannah-on-bike-1.JPGIt has been claimed in many places that these new economic times will slaughter the small, the cute and the eco friendly places to shop. The thinking is that no one will be able to do anything other than go the ALDI and buy the cheapest of the cheap.
While there is  a marked increase in the availability of organic food in outlets traditionally aimed at the lower income consumer, it is also the case that the small, the cute, colourful and the eco friendly have a bright future too.

By small, cute, colourful and  eco friendly  I’m referring to delis, farmers’ markets, ‘ethnic’ shops and health food stores that sell among other things.
Whatever about the hype, these places can actually be great for bargins.  Three things that are better about them from an individual’s point of view are: higher quality, bigger (and thus sometimes better value) portions and personalised discounts.
For a community, social capital perspective, shopping in places like these recirculate cash and allow people to make connections with other locals.

Shopping around for better portion sizes in particular is emerging as a real cost saving trend.
 Here’s an example from my own life last week. I picked up my daughter from the creche at 1, and we cycled into town. We had to go a slightly slower, longer, more meandering though more scenic route, to avoid heavy traffic. Fine! Better actually, life in the sloooow lane…
It was a Friday, so the ennis farmers’ market was on. Jason, who has an excellent and well priced organic veg stall still had a bit left. He also threw in a fine juicy cucumber near the end of the market – I was still there, and he wanted to offload the last of the fresh stuff rather than take it home.

Over at the fair trade stall, I could get proper coffee beans- why is it that supermarkets presume that if you are into organic and fair trade, you must want weak, or, worst again,  decaf coffee?  If I want decaf I’ll drink herbal tea.
(question: why do anarchists only drink herbal tea?
answer: Because all proper tea is theft)
I met up with my partner, passed Hannah over to her and all of a sudden had the child carrier on the back of the bike for storage.
After that, I went to a shop called Baraka. this is a north african shop, and what’s great about it is the portion sizes available, as well as the complete lack of branded hype. Its a food shop brimming with big portions of food. Many ethnic shops are.

The prices are amazing – haloumi for half the price of a supermarket, with big jars available too – these jars have 15 or so pieces in them, and it works out at less than €1 for a portion (the same portion that costs 4 in the supermarket). They also have things like 25kg bags of rice, 100gr portions of herbs and spices – for the same prices as 25gr in the supermarket.
This is a food shop for people who cook all the time. In fact, I’d say it is better value than a wholesalers fo rsome of what it has. Becuase I was on the bike, I was fairly loaded up at this stage. So, I just went for a carton of juice (incredible flavour – 1 lt of guava for €1) 1 portion of haloumi and €4 of black olives. these olives are as good as if not better than  anything you’d get in a deli or market, and cost….€6 a kilo. Unbelievable.

The downside is that almost no organic food is available in these sorts of places. But how better to get real food from real new locals at a great price? Food is a way into interculturalism – the sharing of cultures in an evenhanded way.  And that has its place in the ethical shopping trajectory too.

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