Divorce the Supermarket

I believe for a Happy, simply society and planet the less (or none) we buy from a big supermarket the better…

80c applesThis is a thought that has been kicking around in my head for a while and then a great blog (not mine) finally got me to put them on the page. Have a look at the blog I am referring to here from 1 Million Women:  http://www.1millionwomen.com.au/2014/01/14/how-to-break-up-with-the-supermarket/

I have been thinking about this a lot while in Africa, especially while I was in Kampala, Uganda and saw huge supermarkets popping up all over town to the reverence and joy of the locals feeling like they were seeing ‘development’.

My point is to not to stop this development as that is not really my role to decide what is best for the people of Uganda and I know a giant supermarket represents easier and more variety in their shopping and hence diet and lives. BUT I am more concerned about the huge impacts big supermarkets have on society.

100_1093All of the giant supermarkets growing in Africa are from Kenya, South Africa, USA, UK, etc and even the African owned companies will not be investing back into the local economy like a small permanent resident retailer will.

In summary my concerns for big supermarkets and benefits of local stores:

  Big Supermarket Local Store
Profits Generally go to a fat man in another community/country Generally goes back into the local community
Community Deterioration of community connectedness – the person serving you at the supermarket is likely to not be from your local community A local store is often where they also live and you often know them or they know you from a young age or for many years
Social interaction You are less likely to have a chat with a random checkout person who is often under pressure with a line up behind You are far more likely to have an extended chat with your local store on the local politics, weather, etc
Jobs- less jobs Less livelihoods and economic sustainability for people in the community as you need less people per customer in a supermarket More impact on others and their community when the jobs are directly supporting a family
Jobs – less money Supermarket jobs are usually poorly paid and often for younger folks More money reaches the owner, their family and their community
Energy and environment Big supermarkets use far more energy and less locally sourced products A local store will sell less variety but more seasonal and local
Source of products Supermarkets will usually buy from the cheapest internationally. Less middlemen and less local Local stores will usually buy from the cheapest locally. More middlemen and more local
Enjoyment The shopping experience at a supermarket is far more inhuman, individual and sterile A local store you are interacting with people, family, community and your environment so much more
Local stores in amongst the community in Maputo, Mozambique

Local stores in amongst the community in Maputo, Mozambique

Basically I believe big supermarkets are a cancer on society and this is proven in a country like Australia where big supermarkets replaced speciality stores. These stores were often owned by local families and injecting the money back into their, and your, local community through their own pockets.

The chance of this model of the local community circle being complete is virtually impossible with big supermarkets as the money that goes to the grand executive of the big supermarket is very unlikely to be spending their money in your local community…

I also believe there has been a degradation of society where supermarkets now reign. There is less contact, communication and care in the community compared with where smaller local retailers are still the norm.

It is very difficult and not really my place to stand in the way of big supermarkets in a place like Uganda, other than sharing with them the traps a country like Australia has experienced with advent of supermarkets becoming common place.

On a positive note what I (and maybe others) can do is support local stores and divorce ourselves from the supermarket! Again refer to the 1 Million Women blog to see some tips on how to do this! http://www.1millionwomen.com.au/2014/01/14/how-to-break-up-with-the-supermarket/



18 thoughts on “Divorce the Supermarket

  1. Lunny, I agree wholeheartedly with your opinions on the chain stores. I have pretty much divorced myself from the supermarket having only spent $38 and change there since November and never walk in to a Walmart.

    Growing up my next door neighbor owned the convenience store a block away. He had the basics we might need along with a case of penny candy and an ice cream/soda counter. I walked there plenty of times when very young for a piece of penny candy, but in high school I would get off the bus after a long day and stop in to visit, sitting at the counter enjoying an ice cream float and partaking in a lovely conversation.

    Fortunately, the small town I adopted as my home has seen a resurgence of the small independent shops along with the farmers’ market which is where I give my business to.

    • I can relate every word in your comment Lois. I too used to spend a long time with the people in the shops as a young boy and I still remember when my niece was born the first person I went and told was the lady at the newsagency who I used to visit and chat with almost daily!

      I also see a lot of resurgence in communities ditching the big supermarkets and having food co-ops, markets, online initiatives and more and it is in this regard I wish Africa doesn’t have to go down our path and then come back as we are…

      Cheers, d’Arcy.

      • I too hope Africa doesn’t follow our footsteps, it’s a long, hard road back. I had suspected you had some of the same experiences with neighborhood stores from your writing. Good to see some of us still remember them.

    • Lois, I’m inspired by your comment to track how much I spend at the supermarket. I barely shop there for anything except toilet roll and tins of organic coconut milk (I can’t find a brand I like as much…yet) but I’d love to divorce them completely.

      So far this year I’ve spent $1.49 on toilet roll and $2.50 on coconut milk. That’s still $3.99 too much…

      • Thanks for the comment. I am a big believe of doing what we can and not nit-picking people. I know I have spent far more than you at supermarkets this year! We do what we can and always strive to do a little bit more each time…

        Many Thanks


      • I’m not sure whether the nit-picking comment was directed at me, and whether in fact you thought I was being critical, or whether I’m just feeling sensitive this evening (!) but I assure you I wasn’t being mean! I read Lois’ blog http://living-simply-free.com/ regularly and find it extremely motivating and inspirational, and it was she who led me to this blog with her Friday Share. I’ve thought about quitting supermarkets but I do go in there, albeit occasionally. And when Lois said how much she spent it dawned on me that it would be a great way to measure my own usage – by monitoring my spending I will have a target to reduce until it disappears! No criticism of any kind intended!

      • Hiya Treadingmyownpath,

        So sorry not at all – actually I am a huge fan of self nit-picking (translate to learning and improving) and my comment was actually meant to be in regards to how you aren’t critical of others but do it for yourself. I think the way you break down every last plastic item is wonderful and there is a lot for me to learn! My worry is when people nit-pick other people for not doing what they are doing (which certainly isn’t you) or when someone is doing as much as they can and they slandered for that one thing – like what I received with my Happy, simply home sometimes on not all the building materials being recycled or reused.

        Sorry again and reading back on my reply I can see how you might have interpreted it that way, my bad grammar and writing 🙂

        I am thrilled to have come across your and Lois’ blog as we are all sharing many things in common. I look forward to following your blog and learning and thinking more.

        Also if you happen to go to Paekakariki, Aotearoa New Zealand next holidays you are very welcome to stay at the Happy, simply home – very plastic free and actually emissions free too!

        Many Thanks


      • Well I’m glad we got that all cleared up : ) Nice to meet you, and I’m looking forward to your next blog posts. And if I ever come to New Zealand, I will remember your offer! : )

      • That’s impressive. I no longer buy my toilet rolls at the local store as they no longer carry recycled paper. I’ve had to resort to buying it by the case from Amazon. The only thing I can say is good about this is I have zero plastic to dispose of when buying it this way.

      • A lot of my friends buy from these guys http://au.whogivesacrap.org/ (in fact a few bought boxes as christmas gifts for family – everyone needs toilet paper!) and I’ve been meaning to, it’s just figuring out where I’ll store the 24/48 rolls I end up with! But I just noticed on the site it says they do free shipping to the USA too, so thought maybe you’d be interested…

      • A great org and very good at looking in to learning more on the topics and issues of water and sanitation! I use as presents often as I don’t have any storage for all of them…

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  3. Hey Lunny and thank you for a very informative and insgihtful piece of writing!

    I too feel the same way you and Lois do and have been divorced now for many, many years. Mind you, I do have some visitation rights should a dire need pop up. But i try to not let that happen.

    It’s sad to see the Western “developed” countries picking the pockets of “under-developed” countries. Personally, I don’t think big companies should be allowed outside their borders, but then, I was never a good businessman…thank God!! 🙂

    Thanks again Lunny and now I am off to read more of your writing.

    Take care and all the best.


    • Hiya Lyle,

      Cheers for the comments and agree with everything you wrote as well – the more local and self sufficient usually the better for people and planet…

      Nice to be in amongst the simplistic community and Lori has a great net for catching us all!

      Cheers, d’Arcy.

  4. Pingback: Another step in the right direction | Treading My Own Path

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