People have lots of reasons for not shopping at their local market; relying on somewhere that doesn’t have the permanence of Tesco or Sainsbury’s can be frustrating, particularly if you can’t count on it to stock every single item on your shopping list. Or some might be concerned about the expense of stocking their larders with good quality, homegrown produce. These concerns are often the result of assumptions. Certainly, when I go shopping with my family, we often find that the price of a supermarket shop can escalate as the impulse buys stack up, and things like ready meals and breakfast cereals do not come cheap.
Local independent shops also make a great alternative to supermarket shopping. If you need convincing of this, then you should follow the campaign of this blogger, who has pledged to give up shopping at Tesco for a year, in favour of small businesses in his area (a decision which has worked in his favour, given the recent Tesco horse meat fiasco).
Another group who has been willing to put their enthusiasm for local shopping to the test is Team Pugh, who run the blog A Year Without Supermarkets. I caught up with them to find a bit more about the challenge they have set for themselves…
Introduce Team Pugh.
We are Rebekah, Ian and eight-month-old Lizzie. We have three cats and two chickens and live in lovely Oxfordshire.
Explain the challenge that you’ve taken up.
We have decided to give up shopping in supermarkets for a whole year, shopping locally with local businesses and producers and setting ourselves a limit of £50 per week for our food shopping.
Why did you decide to do this?
We love a challenge! We wanted to save money and we wanted to start writing a blog. We are also keen to help support our local town and keep our money in the local economy.
Have you had to adjust any of your rules?
So far we have lived within the rules completely. We thought hard about them and set rules that we thought would be a challenge but that we thought would be realistic and workable for our family.
Where are the main places you are doing your shopping now?
We love to shop in our local town Faringdon, at the weekly market and at the local deli and butchers. We visit other towns in Oxfordshire too, including Witney, Abingdon, Wantage and Oxford itself, both for the markets and local stores, and really enjoy the variety we find nowadays!
Have you made any good food discoveries since you started your challenge?
Some great cheeses! Cornish Yarg is a new found favourite. We cannot get enough of celeriac, especially Lizzie! Our local deli sells vanilla pods for £1 each which is very reasonable so we have been using a lot of that. Ian has butchered a deer so we have been enjoying a lot of venison. We’ve also had partridge, pheasant and pigeon (which is delicious)!
Tell me about some positive or interesting experiences you’ve had as a result of your challenge.
We have met some wonderful new people, been on the radio three times, been interviewed and photographed for The Sun, and eaten lots of tasty food!
Have there been any frustrating moments?
Blogging every day can sometimes be a bit tiring, but the challenge itself has not been frustrating at all so far!
Are you feeding your cats with non-supermarket-food?
We rarely used to buy our cat food with our weekly shop, rather using pet superstores to buy it in bulk. We have continued to do this; we set into our rules that cat food did not count in the £50 budget (the cats would eat their way through £50 of food a week if they had their own way!)
Has it saved you money?
We have saved over £135 in the 11 weeks that we have been doing our challenge on the £50 budget we set ourselves. We did a month on month comparison from December 2011 to December 2012 and found we had spent less than half shopping locally than we did in the supermarket the year before.
Would you try to keep this up after the year is up?
We don’t see any reason to go back to supermarket shopping once our year is up. Even less than a quarter of the way in it feels like it would be wrong to go back in a supermarket so I am sure come November we will be firmly against the idea.
And anything else you’d like to add?
People should give it a go – it is really not as hard as it sounds, it saves you money, you eat better and it is great fun!