We are really lucky that the local towns and villages around us offer a wealth of local produce, sustainable products and zero waste goods. But when it comes to food especially, I think people assume it will be more expensive and perhaps inconvenient to buy their fruit and veg from a greengrocer.
I am a real advocate of shopping local, not only is it helping to support your local economy, but often it is more personal and enjoyable experience all round. I really enjoy going to my local zero waste shop to pick up supplies, and have a lovely chat with the man who delivers my veg box each week.
But is getting a veg box a luxury?
We have a personalised box delivered each week, and we ask for seasonal and local produce wherever possible. This week we asked for:
700ml orange juice
1 seasonal veg portion – which this week was 2 leeks
1 seasonal veg portion – which this week was a bag of kale
5 large potatos
Bunch of bananas
1 seasonal fruit portion – this week was 2 oranges
Loaf of overnight white bread
It came to £13.82 which I think is pretty reasonable. And this week the kale and leeks were local, along with local butter from Longley Farm, fresh bread, and refilled freshly squeezed orange juice in an old passata jar (I have a few jars and hand one back for re-use when the box gets delivered).
Not that it would make me swap back to the supermarket myself, but I’ve been wondering for a while if this is a more expensive way of buying our weekly essentials. So this weekend I took a trip to our local supermarket to do a comparison. Now I will say that my local supermarket is one of the small local village stores, so I’m sure at some of the large superstores there are more options. But it would be impossible for me to do a completely fair comparison, so for the purpose of this exercise I wanted to see what I could get locally at my closest supermarket.
Here’s what I found
- Cost: £13.82
- Our veg box comes in a recycled cardboard box, and the produce itself is either loose or wrapped in paper
- The greengrocer is 6 miles away, and the box is delivered as part of a delivery loop in my area
- 2 out of the 6 fruit/veg portions are local and seasonal (quite often there is more local items but we had a smaller box this week)
- The butter comes from less than 5 miles away and the bread is also made locally
- The orange juice is freshly squeezed by the green grocers and is put into a reusable glass jar provided by myself
- I email my greengrocer each week to place my order, and I pay the bill via online banking once the produce and bill arrives.
- Cost: £14.75
- Out of the 6 fresh produce items, only 2 did not come wrapped in plastic. I chose loose items wherever possible
- I drove 1.6 miles to my local supermarket
- Only the bread was local as far as I could tell
- The supermarket shop did include 1 more apple than the veg box, 2 more leeks, and 300ml more orange juice, simply because this was all that was available
- Because this exercise was to see the differences between the supermarket and greengrocer I was hyper aware of my supermarket shop, and the amount of plastic in this small shop was very apparent!
All in all there is virtually no price difference (taking into account the extra produce in the supermarket shop) and no difference convenience wise between the two, other than perhaps that I have to email my greengrocer each week to place an order. But the benefits of the fresh, local produce and lack of plastic packaging from the greengrocers mean that for me, there is no competition.
Then I then take into account that I am supporting a local family business, helping to keep high street stores open, and thus benefiting our local economy, shopping at my local greengrocers now seems like a no brainer right?
If you have never shopped at your local greengrocer or other local small businesses, I urge you to give it a try. Most greengrocers now will offer a tailored veg box, meaning that you can choose whats in it each week, eliminating those random veg items that you don’t quite know what to do with, and that ultimately get lost to the veg tray.
Do you shop locally? Do you even have these facilities locally? I’d love to know your thoughts.