For some years I have been buying packs of frozen berries from Sainsburys- great for desserts and more importantly putting into my morning porridge to make it more colourful and interesting as well as adding some vitamin C.
This week I was faced with a problem which made me really mad. The simple plastic bags are being replaced with …yes … a plastic box, a cellophane seal and a paperboard wrapper AND they take up twice the space in my freezer. So I cant stock up as no space. My initial complaint to @sainsburys resulted in a link to their packaging reduction policy #epicfail there twitter person so a spot of sarcasm resulted in an enquiry to the technical team.
It transpires that the new packaging is for quality control. What ? These berries are frozen they are not going to crush and if they did would taste just the same. Please don’t tell me customers have been asking for this?? If you have confess now please.
I have asked whether the same boxes will be used for frozen peas but no response yet.
Plastic bag versus box and sleeve
The cynic in me says wait for them to either reduce the weight of the pack or increase the price to cover the cost of the excess packaging. In the meantime it is costing the earth and increasing the amount of plastic boxes going to landfill.
All week I have been reading from online friends how they hate the mad dash of the supermarket food shop and that many have done it early and are feeling pleased and relieved. The weather has turned stormy today and so many of us are now safe at home with well stocked fridges, freezers and larders. I did my final supermarket shop in a quiet Newhaven Sainsburys on Friday morning thank goodness and my main vegies last Wednesday to supplement the root veg from Dymock farm shop safely stashed in the garage.
So when I woke up this morning and saw on TV that today is the day for the ‘big shop’ I began to think about why we put ourselves through it all? The supermarkets are closed for just one day and lets face it there will be convenience stores and garage shops open on the big day if anything has been forgotten. I have just been into Seaford to pay a bill and was amazed to see some of customers struggling into Morrisons today are the elderly using walking trollies. I have to ask myself why they choose to go there today? Through the window I could see it was heaving with queues 10 deep by 11am.
There was even a queue at the local butchers –probably because people were collecting turkeys etc. I then realised why the butcher told me to go yesterday –a Sunday to collect my small piece of steak and sausagemeat. In fact many of the town shops were open yesterday even the charity shops so I hope they did well with last minute bargain hunters.
So after the frenzy of all this food shopping – I cant remember how many pigs in blankets they said on TV Asda alone were expecting to sell; the nation will settle down to eat and drink their way through an excess of food shopping. I hope that many of those shoppers will have put something decent in the Food Bank baskets that are appearing in most of the big shops now and spare a though for those with only processed food for their Christmas dinner or none at all.
Sadly on the day after Boxing Day , much of this food will be consigned to the bin uneaten along with the turkey carcass which is no longer made into soup or curry in many households (I can see my late dad doing that now and me sighing over the apple and sultanas that went into Anglo Indian curry!) A new frenzy will be in place – sale shopping- either online or another expedition to the shops. The following week the food buying frenzy will all happen again as people restock up for New Years parties.
For me the key questions to ask are;
Did I stick to the list and avoid the BOGOFs when I knew they would not get eaten?
Did I plan the meals and only buy what we really needed?
Did I spread out the treats throughout the week so nobody got indigestion and felt ill!?
Is there got nothing left over or wasted?.
Have I kept a record of the menus and shopping?- easy on OneNote or Evernote for future years?
I wish this to be reflected across the nation and the true spirit of Christmas food sharing to prevail.
My other half has been trying to get me to do a food blog for ages but I have always felt it was an overloaded l area on the web, however since moving to beautiful Seaford on the South Downs of East Sussex UK in August I am finally moved to share my frustrations.
As an older woman I have been working hard since I left teaching 2 years ago to have a healthier lifestyle. I now walk by the sea or on the Cliffs nearly every day. I have also managed to lose nearly 2 stone in weight (thanks MFP but that’s another story) and get rid of most of my middle aged spread. My partner has also lost weight, changed his eating habits and is no longer type 2 diabetic. He has long called me ‘The Food Police’
I was looking forward to being able to access fresh fish from the fishmonger (who is great and tells me good ways to cook it) , use a real butcher and enjoy all my usual products and more at the enormous Sainsburys in Newhaven which is about 4 times the size of the old one in Warlingham. From my first visit to the latter I could not have been more disappointed and frustrated.
Where was my regular spaghetti ?– the Hi fibre white (with oat fibre) that we use so much of to help keep our cholesterol down. I spent time on the phone with their customer centre but they did not seem to know what I was talking about. Where were Blue Dragon whole wheat noodles and Alpro Unsweetened Almond milk about which I also wrote to the manufacturer. The customer service desk said they have no power over what comes into the store – in fact I was told today they only stock what there is demand for.
Aagh if you don’t stock things they will not build up a following will they ? and how many customers just go elsewhere – I was told the Eastbourne Sainsburys is much better but why should I drive 15 miles how ecologically unsound is that? Anyway this has turned out to be untrue because would you believe it about a month later I was doing my weekly shop and there they were- my spaghetti and my noodles- the following week the two hi fibre pasta versions appeared. Next came Alpro unsweetened almond milk though I have to say this has not always been there since. Still no sign of the Sainsburys own brand plain passata jars though of course you can buy all sorts of pasta sauces with added flavours sugar etc. The store stocks far more highly processed food including endless cakes, biscuits and ‘snacks’ than I am used to seeing on display which is a bit depressing in an area like this.
Seaford and Newhaven is a community where there are many older people who need to manage our modern day ills like type 2 diabetes and heart disease There is also a significant sector of low waged working families and people living on benefits. Surely they deserve the choice of healthier options? My initial foray into Morrisons in Seaford filled me with dismay- such poor quality fruit and vegetables and you can’t even get a couple of slices of unpackaged cold cuts from their so called deli counter. They cut it and pre-package. The less mobile and many of them appear very elderly tend to shop here and they are not well served as far as I can see.
So the straw that broke the camel’s back was yesterday when I went to get the Non dairy Koko milk with added calcium which I enjoy after my daily walk. The shelf was bare- was told they get one case at a time- 12 cartons and for the first time ever I actually ordered it meaning I had to waste time and petrol returning today to collect it.
It makes we so angry that the big supermarket chains who let’s face it have so much power over the growers, manufacturers and consumers can’t even stock a few wholegrain staples like large packs of plain brown rice, pasta and a wide range of vegetables both fresh and frozen. They have the chance to show social responsibility and promote these products instead of forever coming up with new pre prepared options. There is a place for the latter in our busy lives but not for everyday or at the expense of real food for good health.