There is something incredibly dreary about every supermarket ever known.
As soon as you walk into one your heart sinks and you become a grumpy trolley shuffler, unless you're one of those crazy basket people that goes to the supermarket at 6am after a brisk jog (in which case you should go away and eat a carrot now and leave us all alone), or you're 2 years old, in which case it is your god given right to chuck a giant tantrum.
The traffic inside most supermarkets is just as bad as roads in any modern city. The same women who can't manage to reverse without an oops or two are let loose here on far more dangerous vehicles without a licence.
You'll find those horrid perky athletic types in the supermarket too - jogging on the spot while contemplating whether they want 5 packets of lean cuisine spaghetti low-fat extra-goo or the smooshed up packets of tofu burgers with added tar that are on special this week.
There's always at least one newlywed couple - arms around each other, romantically deciding whether they should have a bright yellow packet of tacos or frozen lasagne for dinner tonight.
The aisles are set up like one of those awful hedge mazes that landscape architects think are "charming" and "quaint" but there is nothing at all quaint about an entire aisle of noodles served with varying kinds of sludge in styrofoam cups. This aisle is a particularly dangerous one and must be avoided at all costs, lest you accidentally tarnish your ears with the existential rubbish that can only be emitted from first year arts students.
When you run away to safer ground you find yourself surrounded by last year's apples, floury and tasteless. Or maybe they're the potatoes? It is hard to tell.
A fact about supermarkets that you should know:
- 'Fresh' fruit and vegetables on supermarket shelves can actually be around a year old when you buy them. The Sydney Morning Herald bought apples from Australia's major supermarkets and sent them to the Sydney Postharvest Laboratory for testing. The tests revealed that the apples were up to ten months old.
Despite common misconception, apples are not grown year round in Australia. In order to meet the year-round demand, supermarkets purchase apples from growers during the short season and then keep them in cold storage. While the cool temperatures can help the apples last longer, it has a negative effect on the quality and flavour of the apple.
So what can you do if you want to eat produce that is actually fresh, full of flavour and nutrients?
The answer is simple. You need to embrace the slow food movement and buy nearly everything from organic happylands where everyone wears hemp, talks about ecosystems and sustainability and smiles a lot.
The hippies have got it right. The birds sing and frolic as you stroll along at farmers markets or at those wonderful greengrocers that actually source fresh produce. I promise you will taste the difference. Nobody will smack you in the shins with a trolley. You will be able to identify everything on the stands and if you can't, a friendly person over the age of 12 will be able to explain it to you.
So how much extra should you pay for fresh? Almost nothing at all. Sure, the prices look more per kilo but somehow my basket, laden with fresh goodies, costs less than the equivalent from the supermarket.
Fresh lasts longer too, so you won't need to resort to stringy lettuce or frozen peas at the end of the week. Is it any wonder that most kids don't like vegies? Get them to choose the fresh veg from the stands and see what happens next. You can thank me later.
If you can find a quality butcher, fishmonger, greengrocer or farmers market and wholefoods store you will come out ahead financially and have the knowledge that you're supporting your community, your own health and the environment too.
How can neon lights and plastic wrapped in more plastic compete with that?
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