By Nora Johnson • 11 May 2023 • 10:40
Credit: Davizro Photography/Shutterstock.com
With many struggling to buy food, pay electricity bills and heat homes, there’s a lot of coverage in the UK press currently of budget supermarkets in competition with more traditional ones. And during a cost-of-living crisis, shopping at Aldi or Lidl can be one practical solution to save money.
But what about farmers’ markets? Can savings be made there too?
For some, these markets are merely a marketing scam that add a shallow veneer of artisanal authenticity to otherwise basic food items and rarely offer more than marginal improvements over cheaper brand name items. They are mere entertainment, a theme park for the upper middle class to pretend they’re country folk and being eco. Supermarkets (though often accused of screwing farmers) offer better value and efficiency and are one of the great successes of modern supply chains.
The reality of these markets is then, for some, a superficial facade, a delusion and a rip-off. Yes, some of the sourdough breads, cheeses and sausages are terrific. But in the end, it’s a lifestyle choice. It’s entertainment and the wealthy buyer is getting more of an experience than a tangible bang for their buck.
However, not all farmers’ markets are the same. Doubtless, the ones in affluent areas of London are merrily trying to fleece customers with more money than sense wherever they can. In my experience here in Spain, though, there are many great places where the overall quality of food is indeed higher than at the supermarket, you’re less likely to buy stuff you don’t need and there’s way less plastic involved. It’s just a shame, not everyone has the budget or time (or inclination) to shop there.
But what gets me is ‘artisanal coffee’? How is that artisanal? It’s grown, picked, imported and roasted and bagged just like any other. There must be a word like greenwashing for all this. ‘Artisanwashing’? Artisan, my ****!
And as for Aldi and Lidl, let’s look at some of the advantages and disadvantages to consider before making the switch. These supermarkets offer products at significantly lower prices than traditional ones. And despite their low prices, they offer a wide selection of high-quality products, from fresh produce to household essentials. A simple, efficient, no-frills shopping experience with sustainable options, such as organic and locally sourced products.
On the other hand, Aldi and Lidl are often smaller, making it difficult to find specific products and the selection is often more limited. They’re known for their long checkout queues, they generally don’t offer loyalty programs or rewards for repeat customers and, typically, have fewer staff members, making it difficult to find assistance when needed.
So, to put it bluntly, shopping at Aldi or Lidl low-price supermarkets during a cost-of-living crisis can be a smart way to save money, but the limited selection, long checkout queues and lack of loyalty programs may not work for everyone…
Or for one of my neighbours. “The problem with Aldi,” he moans, “is that you go in for some carrots and come out with a chainsaw. Or in for a tin of tomato soup and out with a mini generator.”
Couldn’t have put it better myself. And, you may have noticed, I didn’t!
Nora Johnson’s 12 critically acclaimed psychological suspense crime thrillers (www.nora-johnson.net) are all available online including eBooks (€0.99;£0.99), Apple Books, audiobooks, paperbacks at Amazon etc. Profits to Cudeca cancer charity.
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