Food can be a source of joy – or of anxiety, when money or supplies are short, writes Eleanor Margolies…
In between those two extremes, there seem to be just too many choices. What’s healthiest – and affordable? What about the carbon cost? And why is there so much plastic packaging? Here’s my personal take on reducing food shopping stress.
I order a weekly vegetable bag from Local Greens, collecting it from a shed outside a pub near home. The company works with small UK farms, as close to London as possible. The veg is either organic or spray-free, tasty and incredibly fresh. And when supermarket ‘just-in-time’ supply chains were under pressure this year, I knew that my bag would always be waiting for me.
I have to admit there were low points in late winter. A temporary swede mountain, when yet another yellow cannonball arrived before I had worked out what to do with the last one. But at the moment it is an absolute delight to open the bag and discover lettuce, courgettes and green beans, or a bulb of fennel with metre-long fronds.
I’ve cut the amount of plastic packaging I throw away by buying staples like pasta, rice, nuts and dried fruit (as well as soap, washing up liquid and detergent), from the Naked Larder in Herne Hill. I order once a month and take refillable containers along when I collect. The produce is good quality and it works out cheaper than buying small quantities.
With a weekly veg order and a monthly grocery shop, I pick up extras from the high street and markets. The way we shop for food is changing and everyone has different needs, but there are some great options to try.
Look out for trial offers from vegbox companies like Riverford and Abel & Cole; Oddbox rescues ‘wonky’ fruit and veg that would otherwise have been sent to landfill. Cut packaging by bringing your own bags and boxes to stalls at Borough, East Street or the Blue, or to the Peckham and Camberwell farmers’ markets.
Plastic-free grocers include Fareshares food coop, BYO in Nunhead and Graze in Peckham. Pick up beer and cider from independent breweries in Peckham and along the Bermondsey Beer Mile, and bread from our brilliant local bakers.