A Return To The Way Things Were
In a world where for the most part we seem to be loosing our souls to large chain supermarkets and mega-stores, there does seem to be a massive new up-serge in businesses that are trying to break that mold and once again provide a service that is local, personal and ethical.
When I was a kid, just up the road from my family home was a small shopping village. The village had a grocery store, a corner dairy, a fruit and vegetable shop, a butcher, a haberdashery a small hardware & garden store and that was about it. Very simple, but everything you needed. My parents would walk into each of those stores and would be greeted by the shop owners by name. The shop owners became your friends, they were a part of your community. 20 years after he closed shop, my parents still remember that the local butchers name was Steve and that he would donate sausages to help support our local play-center.
In the face of so called ‘progression’ we have lost so much of this. It’s been swapped out and replaced by large, bulk-buy, impersonal supermarkets and mega-stores. Places that you have to (normally) drive at least 15 minutes to get to, that are situated near motorways so they can service all people from miles around, where staff changes over daily and where all that seems to matter is providing cheap food to lots of people regardless of quality.
This is why, when visiting my Mum this afternoon, I was so excited to see a new local butcher opening up in the village again. The last one closed down when I was about 5 years old, not long after the first supermarket in the area opened. Even better though, this butcher is a free-range, ethical produce butcher. You will be able to walk into this store, and ask where the meat comes from. Ask how it was produced. Ask what is organic, ask what is free range and what the animals were fed. You haven’t been able to do that in Torbay for over 20 years.
Even better, it means that people can walk to get the majority of what they need again. When I was little, my parents had one car which they shared. My Dad would use that to drive to work in the city (he busses now). My Mum would walk up to the shops with both my brother and I in a twin pram. She didn’t need a gym membership then.
Somewhere in the mix of making food cheap and convenient, we have lost so many other things that are really important. Buying local, fresh produce. Ethically produced, free-range organic meat, building communities around local stores, knowing your neighbours and the people that you pass on the street outside our homes. Most of us don’t know our neighbors names anymore. We wouldn’t recognize them if we did ever pass them by in one of those mega-stores.
More and more local stores are being opened again and are being supported by communities that care about where their food comes from and how it is produced. I hope that people continue to support this movement and do whatever they can to help it grow. I think that if we really push this, then we might re-discover many things that we didn’t even know we had lost.