Normally, I have a reasonably good attitude and relationship with my local supermarket. Yes, I dislike it for edging out my favourite tiny greengrocer on Bold Street which I loved, and with the general dislike of a food professional towards the multiple retailers, but on the other hand, it is a decent supermarket most of the time, the fresh produce is fresh, they often have things I like on offer (nice tomatoes, fruit, nuts, butter, cheese, etc.), and it is close and has good opening hours. So, it sort of balances out. I have one of those advantage cards for it, and I have signed up for their weekly emails with offers with the thought that it never hurts to see what they put up on sale… or does it?
I have received one such email last night, and being on a tighter budget this month, trustingly and curiously went to click through it. “Stock your cupboard for half price!” Great, that sounds fantastic – and I click the link to be taken to a page which details which products are actually included in this great pantry-stocking offer. I scroll through the page, and as I do so, a sense of dread slowly overtakes me: all the products on this “cupboard-stocking” offer are, in fact, cookies, biscuits and cheap chocolates in large packs!
What the hell?! Leaving aside the obesity and diabetes epidemic sweeping the Western world, and the governments’ attempts to do something about it (ineffectual as they are, knocking on the wrong food groups), since when it is the practice to stock one’s pantry with chuffing sweets?!
What is worse, is the insidiousness of this: what it does, is teach people (because let’s face it, even when we do not mean to, we do tend to internalise what we read, hear or see in the media – that is what most advertising is based on, after all) that “storecupboard favourites” should, in fact, be boxes and bags of chips (what the locals call “crisps”), cookies, chocolate biscuits and candies. And it is doing it in the times when what we really ought to try to teach the general public is that these things do not, DO NOT! belong in your everyday food consumption, and should be only purchased occasionally and in small quantity as a treat. (Unless you are striving for obesity and related diseases, of course. Then by all means, do stock your storecupboard with all this, and eat it daily. It’s your funeral!) This goes against any attempts (including the token “diet club” run by the same supermarket!) of teaching people better and healthier lifestyle in terms of food quality and consumption.
After said email, my supermarket has, again, made it to the list of my less-favourite people. And I hate feeling disappointed in businesses I had, against all odds, actually learned to respect and like.
So, in short, after resisting a strong urge to throw the nearest shoe into the nearest wall, I resort to this: the electronic equivalent of public screaming and shoe-throwing – in the hopes that perhaps writing this and making people aware of the insidious dangers of the supermarket and advertisement jungle, I might undo at least a little bit of the harm emails like the one I’ve received (sent out to millions of consumers, I am sure!) are doing day in and day out.