A Cautionary Tale

Michael has sent me yet another reason to spurn the supermarkets in favour of the independents:

“There am I shopping in M & S as I normally do and silly me decided I fancied an Avocado. So silly me picks up the Avocado and puts in my basket. At the checkout the assistant scans the avocado and “beep”, it comes back as ‘restricted.’

Restricted? What could that mean? Another assistant comes along, takes my avocado and eventually comes back with another; “we are not allowed to sell this one, but you can have this one”.

I stare at said avocados. Despite the fact my original choice was bigger, they look the same. Me being me says, “No I want my one”….”

“Well you can’t, it is restricted”…this goes on for a while.

Eventually a manager turns up and says they are not allowed to sell “my” avocado until the 10th July? Why I ask?…because they are “too hard – someone might complain”.

“Well I’m not sure about you but I think I’m quite capable of working out that an avocado is too hard….isn’t that why we have airing cupboards? Perhaps I plan to eat it later in the week…”.

Unfortunately my innate ability to tell ripened from un-ripened wouldn’t cut it with the staff of M&S. Off to Blackheath Standard Grocers (Orange & Apple – TGP) where surprise, surprise they were quite happy to sell me any avocado I liked!

I guess this is all down to the way food is mass-produced – food is harvested stupidly early and kept refrigerated, often for months, in an unripe state, so that it can be produced at will on the shelves. Most of the time this is seamless – it all goes on behind the scenes and many of us don’t ask questions about where our food is coming from and how it gets to us.

It’s not genetically modified – but it’s certainly not a natural process. I’ll wager that slightly further up the food chain this is also happening, to some extent at least, with the smaller grocers, but there does seem to be at least a chance that the food is more local and has jumped through fewer hoops to get to us.

One step back on the chain, and the local farmers’ market is probably the most unadulterated we’ll get short of starting up our own smallholding in the back garden and renaming ourselves Tom and Barbara (BTW – has anyone here done that? It’s quite beyond the realms of possibility in some of the bigger gardens round here, I guess…) It’s not perfect and I have my suspicions about some stuff – but hey – if nothing else, walking there of a Sunday morning with a hessian bag and wandering around in the sunshine (or rain) makes you feel as though you’re getting back to nature, and the food miles are at least a little fewer.

BTW does anyone know why the bacon-sandwich man only seems to do sausage sandwiches now? Or have we just been unlucky every time we’ve been recently?

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