Why you should NEVER buy your vegetables at the grocery store:
In this article we will discuss the three reasons why you should never buy your vegetables at the grocery store. We will also see what are the alternatives available to get better, cheaper and more sustainable vegetables.
1) The Vegetables sold at the grocery stores are in general Tasteless:
OK so first of all, as a full-time Foodie and taste explorer i have one thing to say: The vegetables you buy at the grocery stores are in general Tasteless! Bland, insipid, fade, unsavoury, boring, call it whatever you want but they are basically lacking flavours.
I still remember when i used to buy vegetables from Tesco or Sainsbury’s and be shocked by the fact that, they simply have no taste… I mean eating cardboard would probably be the same. You could buy carrots, asparagus, or whatever you like, do a blind tasting, they would all have the same non-existent cardboard taste. So what’s the point? (Not that i have tried Cardboard yet, but you got my point here)
Bland food should be reserved to one type of person, Astronauts, those guys being paid thousands by the NASA to work in space stations and eat special processed Space food because it is the only food they can eat up there. Space food, should be the only insipid food that we should agree to eat; For the rest there is no reason to settle for the trash we are being sold at grocery stores.
2) Controversial impact on Health:
Do you believe that the vegetables sold at your average grocery store are healthy? Vegetables are (or used to be) living organisms, right? So why the vegetables i get at the grocery store do not spoil?!
Do the test, buy a courgette or a bell pepper, leave it for a month in your Fridge and Tada! Nothing has happened, it still looks good, and fresh, one word: Scary!
Also, thanks to the super powerful food and health wizards such as Monsanto and Syngenta in charge of the production of most of the seeds and crop worldwide, we are not only being sold tasteless veggies, but harmful ones as well.
We all know the health risks associated to GMO such as Immune problems and infertility issue. Take a closer look, especially for the one we call the Dirty dozens.
Without going too far with the GMO vs Organic debate, one thing we can say is that the efforts put in place by the giants of the agricultural industry to grow vegetables faster, bigger and stronger, have compromised their ability to develop nutrients. The vegetables might look better and more appealing but in the end, it is just a sweet disguise to mask a lack of nutrients.
The last point does not mean that the vegetables you buy at the grocery store will not provide you with key vitamins and nutrients, but what if you could get more just by switching your purchasing habits?
3) Impact on the environment:
If you walk in central London and ask people around about the vegetables in season these days, most of them won’t probably have any clue about what to answer.
We have a large variety of vegetables available all year round in our dear grocery store. Why is that? They are produced and shipped from all over the world. Spain, Italy, South America, Asia,…
It creates a huge environmental issue. To ship such large quantities of vegetables from all part of the world means their CO2 impact is huge. Pollution, global warming, carbon dioxide, you are all familiar with these problematics of the 21st century. In fact, as we speak we have already exceeded the Overshoot day which is the day when we have used more from nature than our planet can renew in the whole year.
Also, from a personal point of view, in terms of traceability and regulation, i am not sure about the production method for the vegetables coming from some part of the world. One example is the breathtaking investigation from Jean Baptiste Malet about the industrial tomatoes. I think his book is only available in french but it is a must read for the ones who can.
Where should you buy your vegetables?
Grocery stores are easy target to criticise and you will probably ask me, LeCaptain what should we do then?
Thankfully for us, Human beings are pretty good at solving problems and creating alternative solutions when needed. Over the years people have started to organise themselves in order to get around the system and tackle all the issues listed above.
Nowadays we have a lot of alternative channels to buy our vegetables and avoid going to the grocery store: Farmer’s market, local producer, food delivery company or even growing your own! I personally use most of them and i could not see myself going back to the grocery store to get my veggies (unless it is a last minute emergency).
1) Farmer’s Market:
It does not cost an arm to buy at the farmer market. I repeat, it does not cost an arm to buy at the farmer’s market! Just know where you are going, and what you are buying. You can easily be tempted to buy all kind of great and exotic things at the local market but it is not the idea. The idea is really to substitute your usual groceries with the same basket at the farmer’s market. (tomato, lettuce,….). Keep the fancy stuff away and your wallet will thank you for that. In fact you will make some interesting savings.
One advice also, know where you are heading, some Farmer’s market in London can be really posh and targeted to a specific audience let’s face it. So try a few before settling and saying “My gosh these farmer’s market are just too expensive!”.
Farmer’s Market is a must do if you have time, especially during the weekend. In addition of getting better products, the benefits of buying at farmer’s market are huge: It is a direct relationship with the producers, which means you are encouraging local economy and farmers remuneration (it also means you are reducing the profit of the industrial giants playing with our health). Also, it encourages sustainability in many ways, less transportation and better production process.
You are not convinced yet? Here are 10 reasons to shop at farmer’s market.
For Londoners, there is a great website dedicated to Farmer’s market in London where you will find plenty of useful information about where to go: https://www.lfm.org.uk
2) Specialised Food Delivery company:
This one is my favourite one (I can hear you say Lazy!). Specialised food delivery company are my alternative of choice when it comes to vegetables simply because i do not have the time to go to the Farmer’s Market every week. It is a matter of convenience and it is working well.
In big cities such as London, we have seen plenty of specialised food delivery companies emerging over the years. Especially for organic and local vegetables: Abel and Cole, Farmaround, Eversfield, Riverford, Farmdrop or my favourite one Farm-direct.
There is a lot of choices which means you can trial, compare, benchmark and have a look at all the interesting review online (and even YouTube videos) related to these companies and their subscription boxes.
These specialised food delivery companies are, for most of them, all about transparency, sustainability and obviously eating better products.
My personal recommendation for the ones living in London is Farm-Direct (an article will come later). The products are good and the team at Farm-Direct is super accessible and responsive. It is not a big player like the ones able to pay hundreds of Sales Rep to harass you at the tube exit in order to subscribe to their boxes (You know the ones i am talking about; And yes i am worried about how much they are spending for their marketing campaigns). Farm-Direct is a small business with great products and great transparency regarding their producers. They offer seasonal vegetables and it comes cheaper than your average shopping at the grocery store.
Also, one thing to keep in mind; Shopping with food delivery companies has a constraint. You can’t see / smell / touch / the products you are buying. It is a huge disadvantage i have to admit. For that, it is better to head to the Farmer market. However, once you have tried a few companies and vegetable boxes you will easily spot which one provide quality products and which one does not.
For most of the usual items it should not be a problem, but if you are really picky about how your Cabbage or Tomatoes should be, you might take the risk of being disappointed by this solution. (Personally, it has never been the case for me).
If you do not know where to start, the Telegraph made a comparison: The Great British Box Off: which veg box is best for quality and value (I don’t agree with everything but it is a starting point).
3) Grow your own:
Last but not least, if you are lucky enough to have a garden or a small green space, you can always grow your own vegetables. It is probably the most time consuming option, but also the most Rewarding one! Think about it for a minute, how proud will you be to eat vegetables you took time and care to grow? It is also a super sustainable solution and our earth will thank you for that.
However, let’s face it, as romantic as it sounds, everybody does not have the space to organise a small garden and grow their own vegetables. If it is not the case, you can always try to organise yourself with your family (if they have one) or organise something with your neighbourhood. If your parents have a house in the countryside it might be a good opportunity too (and it will be a good reason to visit them more often!).
Otherwise, for some vegetables, you always have the opportunity to grow them indoors.
If you do not know where to start the Royal Horticultural Society has a great website and lots of articles dedicated to this topic.
In conclusion, i can already hear some of you argue: “All the grocery stores are not created equal and some of them sell decent products.” “I do my shopping at Waitrose, Whole Foods and Planet Organic, i am a conscious shopper….” Ok, fair points, there are few exceptions; But they will usually put a high price tag on their products. So why bother when all of the alternatives listed above allow you to buy better and cheaper.
Also, on a separate note, i am not a health guru of any kind, but i have noticed that since i do take care of what i put into my mouth and where it is coming from, i feel less inclined to fall sick. Just my 2 cents….