The Ecologist


Laura Laker

Life without supermarkets: community action is the best way to beat them

Laura Laker

Community garden

A hypermarket victory in Hackney demonstrates how local groups can help protect community shops...

In the continued absence of Government intervention on the monopoly of supermarkets, I've discovered that individuals and groups really can make a difference to their local economies, and there is plenty of evidence to show why they should try.

I'll admit that there haven't been great developments either way in recent plans to open a Tesco Metro near my beloved corner shop, but there's still been one in the eye for the Tescopoly this week. Opposition from local groups has successfully scuppered proposals for a 13-storey Tesco hypermarket and housing complex to replace the already monstrous... Read More...

Life without supermarkets: forget posh organic shops; check out food co-ops

Laura Laker


To keep prices down, Laura shops around and gives food co-ops a whirl...

At some point this week any wishy-washy ideas I had about an idyllic life of local shopping have met with the practicalities of life as a supermarket avoider. I realised I need to be a lot savvier, if only for the sake of financial stability.

When I started this experiment, feelings of concern over the cost of alternative living evaporated in the excitement of small-scale shopping and all its wonders as I marched blindly to the organic shop with its grumpy staff and overpriced lentils.

After returning home with a bag of lentils costing £3.99, I stared into the cupboard at the price label, thinking: 'Did I actually buy those?'

I have since spread my net to a friendly Turkish shop nearby, finding inexpensive pesto, olives, tinned tomatoes and who knows what else I'd been paying through the nose for in my misplaced loyalty.

With a bit of cunning, shopping around can be squeezed into my weekly routine. The farmer's market coincided with meeting a... Read More...

Life without supermarkets: escaping choice overload

Laura Laker

food co-ops

Laura Laker discovers the joys of farmers' markets, the convenience of vegboxes, and the horror of plans for a nearby Tesco Metro that will threaten her local corner shop

Flyers have started appearing all over my neighbourhood opposing plans for a Tesco Metro almost next door to my local corner shop.

I went in search of the shop owner, who I found looking tired and distracted. 'It's killing us,' he said, as we stood outside the shop, gazing into the middle distance like two people witnessing the end of an era. 'This big company will take half my customers. I employ ten people. In the end it will be just me.'

'I am sure Tesco really needs that money,' he added, bitterly.

A recent UN biodiversity report suggests large corporations' profits are ultimately paid for by societies and ecosystems, which suffer reduced quality of life and environmental and social degradation.

I couldn't help thinking that when a supermarket moves in, communities lose local biodiversity, too, and whatever... Read More...

Committing to a life without supermarkets

Laura Laker


No-one enjoys supermarket shopping. But kicking the habit requires conviction, as Laura Laker reveals in the first of a new series...

I've thrown myself into supermarket detox a bit like one might throw oneself drunk into a swimming pool.

Without understanding much about the alternatives, only the knowledge that friends have succeeded in breaking away, I abruptly decided to escape the weekly supermarket scrum. Now, with the threat of a shameful retreat looming, I find myself with fast-emptying cupboards, and a mild sense of panic.

Visiting a friend in rural Somerset over Christmas I reached a shopping epiphany. After a volunteer trip to Madagascar, she left a life of consumerism for one of quiet rural semi-self-sufficiency, chickens and all. To my surprise, living in a small town with only a couple of ‘local' food shops, she hadn't visited a supermarket in almost three years.

Meanwhile, in London, I continued to repress anger at trolleys left in the middle of aisles and the never-ending checkout queues that left me feeling like my head would implode. Once, in a daze, I inadvertently... Read More...

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