Last weekend I read an interesting article by Jay Rayner, a food critic and commentator, about how, in his opinion, “supermarkets have made our lives better.”
This is an unfashionable viewpoint with many people who consider themselves committed foodies - they will refuse to step into a supermarket and if they do it’s always with a hint of shame and despair at having been caught out by the system.
However, for many people supermarkets are the best (and occasionally only) option. The range of products is broad and tailored to the local community, prices are affordable and the time that needs to be spent on shopping can be managed better with a single location/online ordering.
Having said that, there are many concerns about the power that supermarkets wield. As Jay says, “We know that massive supermarkets have been squeezing producers for years, slicing margins which, in turn, has had a knock-on effect on the quality of produce. The excesses of industrial food production in the country are a direct result of the buying policies of the supermarkets.”
These are important issues which need addressing. Here in the UK there was some hope that the Competition Commission which has just reported after a two-year investigation into whether supermarkets abuse their market position, drive small rivals out of business or abuse their suppliers. The recommendations seem to lack teeth and significant change is unlikely.
This means, as ever, it’s important that we all take the time to think about the issues associated with the industry which puts food in front of us. We need to make informed choices and take responsibility for the system, whether it’s small-scale and homespun or national and industrial, that we support.
What are the key issues for you and what choices do you make? join the debate at the daily tiffin, a blog that helps people have a healthy family lifestyle, and which to which i am a regular contributor.