Thursday, May 2, 2013

Shopping (Almost) Locally

It's good to shop locally, right? It's good for the environment and local business. It's even better if you're not just shopping locally geographically but buying local products.

My nearest shopping centre is great. There are two supermarkets, a butcher, baker, candlestick maker and even a library. Okay, I jest about the candlestick maker and have left others out for poetic license! Many of the businesses are independent, too. I live in a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant area in the heart of the mortgage belt so it's a pretty boring and homogenous shopping centre. What it lacks in diversity and "flavour", however, it makes up for with a sense of friendliness and community spirit. I rarely go there without running into at least one of my friends.

Over the past several months, however, Foodland seems to have decreased the number of brands it's carrying. The larger ones seem to be squeezing out the smaller ones and, while the shelves are as full as ever, it's more and more of the same. Furthermore, it's only carrying a fraction of some of the products that some companies make.

In the recent school holidays I ventured slightly further afield. Tucked away in an unassuming block of shops in the heart of industrial Lonsdale, is a treasure trove of a shop called Suntralis. They sell nuts, dried fruit, dry beans, grains, flours, cereals, snacks and sweets in bulk. Teenage Son loves going there so he was the reason for the trip. We had a great time filling bags with products we can't get hold of at our local Foodland. There was an added bonus in that we can reuse all the bags until they fall apart.

Maybe it was because of our trips to Suntralis, I don't really know but today I decided to shop elsewhere. I went to Pasadena Foodland. I read somewhere that "it's more than a supermarket, it's an experience". I've been there before and I'd have to second that opinion. It's a foodie heaven, filled to brimming with diverse brands and products. Interestingly, I went to my local shopping centre first for something and saw no one I knew. I had barely stepped off the travelator at Pasadena when I ran into one of the children's bosses. (Teenage Son is also working at the restaurant where Teenage Daughter works.)

I walked through the aisles finding everything I wanted and more, entranced by the fact that I passed a couple of women chatting in Greek, one of the checkout operators was African and I kept crossing paths with a young woman in hijab. I'm a sucker for cultural and culinary diversity.

The shopping centre also has a bakery, butcher, fishmonger, Target, news-agency and chemist, among other things. It's not local; it is, however, the closest best shopping centre to meet my needs. Furthermore, the Foodland actively promotes local producers. I'm having to go less local to buy more local.


  1. Sounds like a good tradeoff. Remember, the modern petrol engine, polluter that it is, has had as much as 90% of that evil squeezed out of it by tech advances in the last half-century. Squeeze out a little more by consolidating trips, and you can feel good about the whole process.

  2. I love trip consolidation!

  3. When I was growing up the local Foodland was huge. We would travel a couple of suburbs over to shop there because it was the only supermarket which carried all of the contintental goods that my migrant family could ever want. This was in a suburb where the local primary school had 300 students and 80 different languages were spoken within that school community.
    When everyone mixes as children and young families, cultural diversity becomes de rigeur and we all benefit from learning from each other, not the least in which is culinary delights and it is great that local shops also support that market.

    1. I loved it back in high school, mingling with the kids from different backgrounds. It kind of got into my blood then. I still remember one of my Greek friend's mums trying to fatten me up with a really tasty bean dish.
      Then, when I went to uni I made Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysian and Japanese friends and life was further expanded.