Elsewhere (138)
There May Be Some Swelling

Because Waitrose Eats Your Soul

And so, again, we visit the pages of the Guardian, where Felicity Lawrence looks forward to the downfall of big supermarkets. You know, those dark, forbidding entities that have “marched across our food and shopping landscape,” casting shadows so vast and terrifying that “it seemed there was no part of our consuming lives they did not want to capture.”

Tightening her moral corset, she says,

People are in revolt against Big Retail… The fall of this empire looks as though it will be fast… It is hard to mourn.

It seems I’d missed these dramatic events, this fall of empire and popular revolt. Perhaps, like many others, I was busy buying groceries at a reasonable price in a pleasant, airy supermarket with polite and helpful staff. But apparently the “supermarket model” is not only accompanied by “social destruction,” it’s also a “colossal market failure.” And so we – that’s thee and me – will somehow find both the time and enthusiasm for “smaller baskets” and “more frequent provisioning,” several times a week from righteous local suppliers - where they exist, that is, and regardless of the weather and any scheduling commitments. Their prices may be higher and their supplies less varied and reliable, but at least their moral aura will meet Guardianista standards. And so never again will dark forces “make us buy things we never intended to buy.” Never again will we be seduced by discounted biscuits and that sinful Pot Noodle.

As is the custom at Kings Place, Ms Lawrence then goes on to tell us what it is “we” think:

We don’t want the illusion of “choice” that 30-40,000 lines offer, especially when so many of them are just variations on the same theme of highly processed fats, sugars, and salt disguised by additives.

That’s all supermarkets sell, obviously. Damn their glowing eyes. And even if it wasn’t, we mortals have no ability to make decisions regarding how we spend our money. We, it seems, just drift down those supermarket aisles, no shopping list in hand, scooping things at random into our baskets. Yes, dear reader, we all shop by poundage and volume. Didn’t you know?

If Ms Lawrence’s pieties sound familiar, you may be thinking of Friday’s column by Deborah Orr, who told the nation - or the tiny part of it that reads the Guardian unironically - that the big supermarkets are “in trouble” because they’re,

viewed as having helped to impoverish town centres and are now looking horribly antisocial.

You see, the entire nation – not just a subset of well-heeled Guardianistas – is raging against the convenience of the local supermarket, where cheap food is plentiful and easy to find. Instead, says Ms Orr, we’re all spending our weekends in joyful protest at the nearest out-of-town farmers’ market, where securing a week’s food shopping is a more ambitious task and generally more expensive. And we’re doing this because – yes, because – “people don’t have as much money to spend.” This is what we’re all doing, apparently. Just like her.

Update, via the comments:

The Observer’s Joanna Blythman, who was evidently handed the same article template, is also very fond of the presumptuous “we,” a term she uses repeatedly. She too just knows how “we” feel, thanks to her uncanny mental powers. And amazingly, we all agree with her. Apparently, the nation’s shoppers are no longer interested in convenience or price, or the cost of their time - despite her own article suggesting the opposite - and “we” now favour the “creative independent retail sector,” by which she means, “farmers markets, box schemes, bread clubs [and] food co-ops.” You see, paying more for food and spending much longer finding it, filling our otherwise empty afternoons with more frequent trips and smaller baskets, is “increasingly shrewd and practical.”

As Jen quips in the comments,

More people are shopping at big cheapo supermarkets Aldi and Lidl which ‘proves’ everyone wants to shop at farmers’ markets where food is more expensive. #ObserverLogic.

And on the subject of those legendary farmers’ markets, of which so many Guardianistas speak, commenter Lancastrian Oik steers us to this.