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Anyone else feel morally exhausted after grocery shopping?

(46 Posts)
JoshandJamie Mon 26-Feb-07 09:06:58

I am having a really hard time trying to shop these days. I am usually fairly exhausted after shopping anyway with two small boys in tow, but these days I find it an impossible juggling act trying to balance:

- cost
- health
- locally produced
- fair trade
- ethically produced
- free of excess packaging
- convenience

For most of my life I can honestly say that I have chosen products based on how convenient they were (particularly packaging) and how good they tasted.

Now I find myself spending hours reading labels to check that the food products don't contain x, y and z nasty ingredients or that someone (human or animal) hasn't been exploited in making it and that the packaging isn't going to ruin the environment.

At the same time I'm a busy mum, running my own business and looking after two children without too much free time. If I could go to local markets to get good quality, cheap, locally produced, non packaged goods, I would, but I don't always have the time, particularly as the markets only run on certain days here and I invariably have the kids with me on those days I trying to hold onto a three year old and a 17 month old and carry groceries is equally knackering.

On a related subject, I find eating anything these days an unenjoyable experience. The little colour wheel saying how high fats, salts etc are in a product seriously puts me off, even something that is largely green but has an orange in one of the boxes makes me not want to eat it. I keep thinking that whatever I put in my mouth is either unhealthy or created in a bad way.

Everything that we have come to know in the past has been turned on its head. So previously, low prices or two for one offers or new easy pour box or longer lasting products were all selling points, they now seem like bad things because you know that something or someone must be getting hurt in the process to make it cheaper or more convenient for you.

I know that heightened consumer and environmental awareness is a good thing, but it is making me exhausted. Sorry for the long garbled rant. Just needed to get that off my chest because my head feels like it's going to explode. Anyone else feel the same?

Sugarmagnolia Mon 26-Feb-07 09:14:04

Yes, I know how you feel! If it's organic it's more expensive. If it's the store's own "value" brand it will be full of additives and too much salt. Read the label for fat content. Then check is it dairy free for DS. Then of all those that meet the above criteria compare prices. Eat oily fish, it's good for you. Don't eat too much oily fish, it's high in heavy metals. Dairy is good for you. Dairy is high in fat......!!!!

My dad was giving me a hard time about some of the things I was buying when he was here to visit and I tried explaining this to him! I think at the end of the day it would be nice if we could all save the world but it's more importnat to just to our best to keep ourselves and our families happy.

I was recently thinking about getting a disposal installed in my kithen sink to cut back on waste but my MIL says hers brakes down so often she's spending a fortune on plumbers and I really dont' need one more thing to worry about. So for now I'll stick to recycling whatever gets picked up by the local council.

JoshandJamie Mon 26-Feb-07 16:26:26

Glad I'm not the only one Sugarmagnolia. I spoke to my sister about this and she felt that I 'shouldn't try to be a perfect mum'. But I don't think I am. I just think I have a social conscience but am finding it a bit exhausting really.

misdee Mon 26-Feb-07 16:28:54

if someone you usually buy suddenly states 'new improved' then you have the check the ingrediants all over again, if it contains anything that is likely to cause an allerguic reaction, then put it back and look for an alternative.

lionheart Mon 26-Feb-07 17:32:49

Dp says he does.

Issymum Mon 26-Feb-07 17:44:59

Ah the 'Kenyan Snow Pea' dilemma. Do I buy the snow peas because they are green and therefore healthy and the DDs will eat then. But is there too much packaging around them? And what about the food miles associated in getting them to my local Sainsburys, which means that I should refrain from buying overseas produce and buy only locally produced food? But if we don't buy them from Kenya, what will happen to the Kenyan balance of payments and all that foreign income required by the Kenyans to buy, for example, pharmaceuticals? Would FairTrade snow peas be better? But will that fail to encourage the Kenyans to be flexible to competitive market forces which they will need to do if they are to thrive in a global open market? And should I buy organic snow peas? But then I would want to bear in mind that organic vegetables require more land for the same crop yield which could contribute to damage of native vegetation?

Aaaaagh! At that point I normally have a quiet lie-down and gibber in the vegetable aisle.

There was actually an excellent article last month in The Economist about the complexity of food economics and politics.

janeite Mon 26-Feb-07 18:15:58

Yes. And that's just at the coffee section, before even ocnsidering anything else. Usually bu Clipper or Percol but occasionally allow myself to be seduced by Carte Noir or special offers and then feel bad!

FrannyandZooey Mon 26-Feb-07 18:21:31

LOL yes I do know what you mean

I tend to have my own mental rules which I more or less stick to (these change depending on what my priority is at that time) and then when I get sick of being so righteous I send dp into town and he comes home with asparagus and raspberries out of season

Sugarmagnolia Mon 26-Feb-07 18:23:47

LOL Issymum, the global snow pea dilemna - I love it!

Sugarmagnolia Mon 26-Feb-07 18:24:11

Sorry, Kenyan Snow Pea dilemna.

Gobbledigook Mon 26-Feb-07 18:27:27

Not really.

I usually buy organic and I try to buy British. However, if getting a range of fruit for the boys means I have to buy out of season then I do and I don't stress about it.

I don't really buy 'ready made' stuff so I'm not really checking 'ingredients' of things.

I buy all my meat from my local butcher who sources everything from within a 20 mile radius.

I must admit I don't really consider packaging too much but I do recycle paper, tins and glass - I know I could do more.

I don't really consider the cost of things.

I don't know, I just haven't got the energy to consider every little thing but I have certain things I do that are 'socially conscious' and I accept that I can't do everything.

WideWebWitch Mon 26-Feb-07 18:30:18

lol at Issymum and also at the thread title.

Yes, I do. I'm pretty happy on the not processed front since I mainly buy veg, fruit, meat, fish, nuts, bread, loo roll and that sort of stuff and not much processed stuff.

BUT, I am aware that really and truly I should be getting an organic box full of local and seasonal produce and if I did I would be

a) supporting local farmers/producers
b) cutting down food miles
c) stopping using nasty multinational Tesco
d) still be mostly buying organic

I have got in touch with the local co we have that does tihs but haven't got around to using them as they've only just answered my quesiton on delivery times. We do have a company that does this though, which is good. They show you food miles for every item and a lot is organic/seasonal.

I hesitate everytime I go to use deodrant: on non work days I use a poncey organic green one and yet on work days I use mens Sure, which I'm sure is full of parabens and other nasties. And that's before I've used soap or shower gel which has probably got sodium laureth sulphate in it. I skim The Ecologist guiltily and put off reading articles which will make me feel I have to do something.

Likewise, I have a Mooncup but have so far failed to use it despite having had THREE periods since I bought it where I was on leave from work and could have easily got boiling and using it.

In fact that sums me up: I bought a damn Mooncup but haven't used it. I really need to put my money where my mouth is (or, well, er, you know, won't go any further with the Mooncup analogy!)

Sugarmagnolia Mon 26-Feb-07 18:39:01

How do you buy nothing processed? Even if you never ever ever buy a "ready meal" (which I don't) there's still plenty of stuff I have to check the labels of - biscuits, crackers, breakfast cereal, crisps etc to make sure there's no dairy in them for DS, things like yoghurts for DD to make sure there's no gelatin in them....???

WideWebWitch Mon 26-Feb-07 18:43:03

SM, I don't buy biscuits or crackers or crisps (Wotsits very occasionally! and I had a rosemary cracker today but that was in a food hamper I was given for my birthday) or ready meals or cakes or anything like that really. I do buy cereal, Granola, Shreddies and yoghurt (Rachel's organic mostly, sometimes petit filou which aren't that great re sugar) for the children but that's it really.

JoshandJamie Mon 26-Feb-07 18:59:40

Issymum - you summed up my point perfectly.

What about bread, Wicked waterwitch? Do you make your own bread - I know with a breadmaker it's easy enough to do. But for example, I wanted to buy some tortillas/wrap thingies so that I could make some chicken fajitas this week.

I first picked up old el paso and promptly put them down due to hugely scary hydrogenated fat levels. Then I picked up the new lower salt and fat Discovery ones and the Sainsbury's healthy choice ones - both still laden with salt and fat. And these are the supposedly healthy wraps. It's not like I'm buying doughnuts for goodness sakes, it's a wrap. Now I don't even want to eat the bloody things.

wheresthehamster Mon 26-Feb-07 19:14:11

I could have written the opening post.

I don't eat much packaged food but when I do all I think about is the fat content solidifying in my stomach.

WideWebWitch Mon 26-Feb-07 19:15:33

I have a breadmaker but mostly buy Tesco organic wholemeal bread, not ideal. I don't buy wraps so haven't ever had that dilemma!

beanie2bump Mon 26-Feb-07 19:17:21

tesco.com fantastic they deliver... its great

charlieq Mon 26-Feb-07 19:18:28

Wickedwaterwitch mooncups are fine really! Do try it, I bet you will prefer it to the old 'plugs' (sorry)

I get an organic box but half the fruit rots as my dh doesn't eat fruit and ds doesn't eat much of it.

I try to follow the rule that very cheap usually means processed/unethically sourced (unless it's greengrocer produce)- also avoid supermarkets when I can- but that bit gets exhausting. Visiting small shops especially when pg and the size of a house, and/or accompanied by fiddling small child, is really time consuming.

I would be a lot more ethically sound if I could actually cook rather than relying on made-up stuff (even if 'healthy') and takeaways so often even though I do usually recycle the plastic containers...

bea Mon 26-Feb-07 19:30:37

my daft shopping dilemna is...

organic or british/local???

i.e. do i go for the organic carrots flown all the way from spain (or wherever) carbon emissions etc?? or do i go for the carrots grown down the road in worcester (but not organic!? ) ????


what do you do???

charlieq Mon 26-Feb-07 20:00:44

bea I think the conventional 'wisdom' now is go for the local at all costs- but then if you are the type who has to be chemical-free, you'll go for that over the non-global-warming veg...

Furball Mon 26-Feb-07 20:09:21

Sainsburys do organic wraps!

I try my best to buy local and healthy but pushed the boat out last week with a Sainsburys boxed curry. Went to throw the box away afterwards and saw by the ingredients. 'This Chicken is either Thai or Brazilian' [puke face] bleugh nearly made me want to throw up on the spot like that WI lady in Little Britain!

portonovo Tue 27-Feb-07 12:07:30

I have a few basic rules to stick to, which gets me through most dilemmas.

Organic/local/seasonal - sometimes I can tick all these boxes, otherwise I go for the local & seasonal. Some of the growers near us farm 'organically' but can't afford the certification, so that does for me. We grow loads of our own veg anyway, which is even better!

Fairtrade wherever possible and as long as it doesn't conflict with any other rule - e.g. some Fairtrade biscuits have hydrogenated fats in. Not a huge problem because we rarely buy biscuits.

Absolutely no hydrogenated fats or artificial sweeteners. Not ever.

To be honest, I don't find it exhausting in any way, perhaps because we have a routine as to what and where we buy. We don't tend to buy much except fresh or unprocessed ingredients, so that speeds things up in terms of looking at labels etc. I make all my own bread/wraps/rolls etc, all cake-type things for lunchboxes and probably about 90% of biscuits - try not to make too many of those anyway, they are too yummy!

In the last couple of years we've refined our shopping processes and got to a routine we're happy with:

we grow lots of fruit/veg in our garden and allotment

We visit a farm shop once a week for more fresh produce, dairy, some meat

get a weekly box from Abel & Cole with mainly fruit, a little veg, some milk and occasional extras

a few times a year order a bulk lot of organic meat from Sheepdrove farm (lasts us a long time, we only eat meat 1-2 a week)

once a month visit town farmers' market

every few weeks visit a healthfood shop a few miles away for dried goods (we get through loads of pulses, flour, grains etc)

and occasionally visit a supermarket!

cremolafoam Tue 27-Feb-07 12:20:49

it's the packaging that gets me.
we have 3 different bins and it is my mission NOt tto fill the ordinary waste one- but it is well nigh impossible.
we are unable to recycle cardboard and the bin is full of it And plastic.
i cook all mels from scratch and don't buy ready meals but still many veg( organic or not) come in a flipping tray.
Also cat food boxes cereal boxes and the cardboard sleeves take up room.

Agree with JandJ about going straight to exploding head in the supermarket.It's also the fluorescent light that gives me a headache. We are trying to avoid salt ( i have elevated cholesterol)at the moment and it takes me at least 2 hours to get round the shop at which point i am ready to drink an entire bottle of gin on my own in the dark

charlieq Tue 27-Feb-07 13:24:50

cremola yes the veg trays and individual wrapping are a red rag to me too

can you get an organic box? nothing much is wrapped in those and you can return the packaging to them for recycling.

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