I tried this for about a week, but I couldn't do it. I really couldn't.
I live in a small town on the north coast, 110 miles from the nearest city, and there aint much between us and said city. In an ideal world, somewhere as rural as this would have farm shops and local produce on every corner. But this isn't an ideal world.
In the town, we have three supermarkets (Co-op, Lidl, Tee-co), plus four smaller supermarkets (Nisa, Co-op, Mace, McColls). We have one tiny independent grocer, which is tailored more towards tourists and selling interesting/unusual drinks, three butchers, three bakers, two fish shops and one health food shop. That's pretty much it.
I do my bit; I never ever buy supermarket eggs, only local and free range either from local shops or the roadside. I mostly buy meat and fish from the local shops, unless I can get it in the supermarket with a reduced price sticker. I don't grudge paying more for 'proper' butcher meat, which I prefer to eat anyway. I only buy the other stuff to save money now and again.
I buy local potatoes, and local strawberries when they're in season. There's a farm shop near John O'Groats that does sell some veg, and I go there when passing but driving 20 miles for a couple of vegetables just isn't something I'm prepared to do regularly.
There are the other few things I can get locally. Sometimes the butchers have carrots, turnips and onions, and a couple of farms sell handmade jam at the roadside.
I have no idea what my logic was behind this goal, but I think it was more a case of not so much supermarket rather than none at all. There's something desperately sad at how we've become so reliant on the big guns, but I guess the public gets what it wants. Competition, choice, convenience and low prices. Not that these are bad, or indeed good, they just are what they are. I guess they've been taken to extremes, and the extremes have become the norm. One the plus side, for me, the supermarkets up here are relatively small so there's still a local element. And the Co-op sells local potatoes and bakery produce, which is a nice touch.
The bottom line though, is price. They cannot be beaten. End of story. However as much as I love a bargain and I like to save money where I can, I feel I do make a contribution to local businesses, the environment and my health, in the way I shop. I love the fact that, if I wanted, the butcher could show me the tag from the ear of the animal I'm about to eat. He can tell me where it was reared, what it was fed and where it was slaughtered. The fish shop can tell me which of their catch was caught within the last 24 hours and even by which boat. I can visit the farms where most of the eggs I buy are laid. I can see the fields at John O'Groats where the potatoes are grown. This is such a rarity, in a world where our lamb comes from Argentina, our prawns from Thailand, our green beans from Kenya, and our eggs from a miserable, mite-infested hen in a cage that it can't even turn in.
I'm not demonising supermarkets, I would continue to use them for some things even if I had more choices. But sometimes it's nice to actually look and think about the food I buy rather than numbly wander along over-lit aisles with an over-filled trolley (with the inevitable wonky wheel).
Do you tend to use supermarkets only? Or do you prefer to shop at smaller businesses?