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Planet-Friendly Food Shopping in Chichester

Today’s blog post is aimed at those people living in and around Chichester but many of the ideas mentioned will be relevant anywhere in the country.

In Hamilton, New Zealand I was able to shop around and find the most eco-friendly places to shop for my fresh food and non-perishables. I was lucky enough to have a fantastic Farmers’ Market every weekend that sold organic, spray-free, locally grown fruit and vegetables along with Fairtrade Coffee, local Wine and a local bakery stall. Hamilton also had two bulk-buy food stores where I could get all my dry goods in bulk in my own containers (earning a 5% discount for doing so) and all my canned and jarred food. This not only allowed me to shop virtually plastic-free but also meant that my money was being invested into the local community rather than large food corporations. In Chichester it’s not so easy to do this but there are ways to buy your food in an environmentally friendly way.

Buy locally

Firstly, you need to rid the idea of buying all your food from one place (i.e. the Supermarket). Not long ago, you would buy your different types of food from different shops: your fruit and vegetables from a green grocer and your meat from a butcher, for example. This meant you were investing your money into local people and local businesses who then reinvested that money back into the local community. Shopping at supermarkets, however, your money is invested in a huge corporation who doesn’t have your best interests or your local community at it’s heart. We need to move back to buying our food from a few different, local food stores.

Buy seasonally

Secondly, we need to rid the idea of being able to have any fruit and vegetables any time we want, and instead buy seasonal food. When we demand to have things like peppers and strawberries all year round it means supermarkets are having to ship these items in from abroad where they are seasonal adding huge air miles onto your food items. Instead we should buy seasonal fruit and vegetables that have been grown locally. A quick google search will be able to tell you what is in season in the UK. Seasonal fruit and vegetables can either be chosen at supermarkets or, even better, from your local farm shop.

Buy ethically

Choose foods that have been produced in a way that matches your moral values and ethics. Look for Fairtrade items such as coffee, tea, wine and chocolate.

Buy vegetarian/vegan

Over my 15 months in New Zealand I slowly transitioned from a full blown meat-eater to a vegan diet. I did a lot of research into the dairy and meat industry and found that eating meat didn’t match with my moral values and was having a huge detrimental affect on the environment. I would urge everyone to do their own bit of research into the industries and challenge their way of thinking and eating. I also found that going vegan has saved me a huge amount of money as meat, fish and dairy are very expensive products, both for your wallet and for the planet.

Think differently

It is really important to remember that you are not entitled to everything. A lot of food items we don’t actually need, we actually only want. As consumers we need to start putting the planet before our desires. For example, if you are craving a Cadbury’s chocolate bar, take a step back and think, “do I need this to survive?”. The answer is often “no”, but what the planet needs for it to survive is for us to stop buying superfluous food items wrapped in non-recyclable plastic only to serve our cravings. Also think, do I need to have things like strawberries all year round or can I just buy them when they’re in season? This change in mindset will change the way you think about your food shopping and your consumption habits in general.

Here’s where in Chichester you can find locally grown and produced, plastic-free food:

  1. Farm Shops: Southbourne, Runcton, Adsdean. These are great little stores that sell locally grown fruit and vegetables at a very reasonable price. Southbourne Farm Shop allows you to use your own containers for loose food and sells:
    • Loose, locally grown fruit and vegetables
    • Locally baked bread
    • Local wines, beers and spirits
    • Frozen fruit and vegetables – these are loose in big vats in the freezer so you can use your own containers (this is the first time I have ever seen this and it’s amazing!).
    • Non-perishable items
    • Local meat, fish and dairy
    • Local flowers
    • Plastic-free bread
  2. Refilled, Drapers Yard: This shop run by a lovely lady called Esther was set-up when she came back also from living in New Zealand and was inspired by their plastic-free shops in Auckland. She sells all sorts of loose, dry goods that you can fill your own containers with. You don’t pay for the weight of your container, only the weight of your food:
    • Pasta and rice – wholemeal or white
    • Coffee beans
    • Spices
    • Flours and baking items
    • Oats and cereals
    • Nosh balls
    • Plastic-free items (takeaway coffee cups, tooth brushes)
    • You can refill your shampoo bottles, conditioner, washing up liquid, laundry detergent, hand soap and more from her dispensers outside.
    • Even if you have forgotten your containers, she provides some containers for you donated by other customers that you can use and then bring back.
  3. Zest for Taste, Drapers Yard: This is great little place where you can refill your Olive Oils and vinegars. They also sell a huge selection of sauces, relishes and spices in glass jars and bottles.
  4. Manuka Wholefoods, East Street: This is an absolute treasure trove. Here are some really useful items that they sell:
    • Loose organic fruit and veg
    • Local dairy products
    • Vegan food, egg replacers
    • Organic jarred food (without the plastic safety wrapping on the lid – amazing) and canned food
    • Plastic-free bath soap, shaving soap, deodorant
    • Home-compostable baking paper and muffin cases
    • Plastic-free cleaning items made from Natural fibres and materials
    • Plastic free baking yeast
    • Organic, plastic-free seeds for growing your own fruit and veg
  5. Chichester Farmers’ Market, 1st and 3rd Friday of each month in the Town Centre: Whilst not all the food at the Chichester Farmers’s Market is actually produced by local farmers, a lot of it is. Some great stalls are:
    • Trish’s Coffee and Tea – Trish will allow you to use your own containers and grind your coffee for you.
    • Loose almonds and Olives – I’ve been able to use my own containers for these.

Whilst this may seem annoying and inconvenient to have to go to a few different shops to get your food items, it’s a necessary change we all need to make to lessen our environmental impact and invest our money back into local businesses. If you’re really pushed for time all you need to do is buy your non-perishables in bulk from these places so you don’t have to come back so often. Granted, you may need to go back for fruit and vegetables more often but for non-perishables you only need to go fortnightly or even less frequently.

The great thing about buying from these shops is that they are run by local people and there’s a familiar face serving you every time you go back. This is something I cherished in New Zealand as I built a real rapport and friendship with the people I bought my food from. They would often give me discounts on my food or even free items for my loyalty.

But what if I’m shopping on a budget?

It is a common misconception that buying locally, ethically and plastic-free is always more expensive that buying from supermarkets. Whilst some items are more expensive, shopping in the way I’ve described changes the way you think and shop, and where you spend more money in some places, you save massively in other areas. Local fruit and vegetables are often cheaper because they’re in season (and therefore in abundance) and haven’t had to travel very far to the shop shelf.

You’ll find that you buy less processed, unhealthy and plastic-packaged food. This saves you money and allows to pay for the items that are a little more expensive than in the supermarkets.

Eating vegetarian or even vegan also saves you a huge amount of money. Granted, many vegan alternative foods like tofu, Quorn and Linda McCartney are quite expensive, but if you also strive to shop plastic-free you’ll find that these foods are not actually an option anyway. Researching into vegan meals you’ll find that you can get all your dietary and nutritional needs from plants and foods such as chickpeas, lentils and beans, all of which are sold either dried and loose or cooked in recyclable cans or jars.

Making these changes to the way you shop for food in Chichester can carry over into anywhere in the UK. All you have to do is a bit of research and some shopping around. The result of doing this will make your wallet happier, you local community happier, the planet happier and you happier.

This isn’t a comprehensive list of places to shop in Chichester; I’m still discovering new places every week. If you have found anywhere that sells plastic-free items that you can’t seem to find anywhere else, feel free to post them below.

Happy shopping!

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