Sunday, November 19, 2006

Direct Action

After a wine-fueled strop of magnificent proportions about the ridiculousness of programmes such as I'm a Celebrity... C. agreed to turn over. Nothing appealed to me. I became more and more sullen. C. chose to ignore me and watch Eight out of Ten Cats which I also watched but in stony-faced silence (I think Johnny Vegas made me smile slightly once). Amongst the top five stories of the week were Bond and...I'm a Celebrity.

The story that has stayed in my mind was the call to direct action by the environment minister, Ben Bradshaw:

While saying he would like to see targets for waste reduction spelled out in and included in annual reports, Mr Bradshaw also urged shoppers to force the grocers to move faster by taking direct action. After paying for their goods, shoppers should remove "excessive and unnecessary" wrappers and leave them behind. (Guardian. Tuesday, 14 November).

This probably struck a chord as my mum is obsessed by cucumbers in plastic jackets. She hates them. If she sees a cucumber in its natural state she buys it (whether or not she needs it). I've lost count of the times I've been sent home with half a cue.

Eager to find out what the supermarkets thought of Bradshaw's plan three Guardian journalists were sent to find out. In summary:

Sainsbury's: threatens to call the manager.
Waitrose: comments that Bradshaw doesn't have to work behind a till.
M&S: helps remove the packaging and offers to put it in the bin.
Tesco: seems prepared and takes the packaging.
Morrisons: puts all the packaging into a plastic bag frantically.
Asda: reacts as if it is a perfectly normal thing to do.

My response? To remind myself to avoid supermarkets altogether. Packaging is a small part of a much bigger problem. After checking the internet for Sunday Farmer's Markets in London I set off for Marylebone on the tube. (The journey there and back was sufficient for me to read and thoroughly enjoy Weedon's Diary of a Nobody).

Smaller than I perhaps expected the market (sited on a car park; wonderful) was not a disappointment. My bags came home loaded with a wonderful array of fresh, seasonal vegetables bought from the people who grew them. I asked the man on the potato stall what he recommended for mash. Did I want “continental mash...smooth and creamy” or “Irish/English mash...fluffy and floury”? Plumping for the latter I came away with a bag of Lady Balfour. “Named after the founder of the Soil Association.”

The apple and almond tart I bought from Pâtisserie Valérie on Marylebone High Street was exquisite and worth a return trip all on its own.

To find a farmers' market in London click here. For the rest of the country here.


Anonymous said...

BRILLIANT! We need more people like you who bother to get off of their arses, with a sense of adventure and a bit of life in them.

I often disucss (with my brothers) the quality of food and how it must've gone down since we remember enjoying it so much as children but don't get the same pleasure in eating the same foods any more. Top Deck fish n chips for example, no way near as good as they used to be and some of the Indian food tastes rubbery and it is microwaved rather than freshly cooked like it used to be when I used 2 visit a place in Upton Park with my grandfather sometimes. Hmmm, my mouth waters at the very memory, I wonder if it's still there or if it has been built into another Cash n curry shop!

Ashley said...

I have to admit, I get my unsleeved cucumbers and organic produce at the organic produce SUPER market, Whole Foods.

I know.. it's shameful but so convenient (and so outrageously expensive).

City Slicker said...

You should have said hi. I was there as well. Did you buy an obligatory apple crumble from the first man on the right when you enter selling apples. Delicious :-)

ems said...

Ashley - don't feel bad. I'd probably do the same if I could.

CS - I did wonder on my way there - I thought you'd mentioned the market before.

Che-Jay said...

You don't like I'm a celebrity get me out of here???

I'm shocked !!

* (asterisk) said...

I've been talking about leaving packaging at checkouts for several years, since seeing Anita Roddick (I know she's a prick) saying that she does it all the time.

Now, though, I'd sooner take it home with me. At least then I know it's going to get recycled rather than just thrown in the bin.

And by recycling we can poison thousands of Chinese, who apparently risk life and limb recycling our plastic, cos it's cheaper to do it there than here.

What a great world, isn't it?