My year without Coles and Woolworths

I don’t much go into New Year’s resolutions, but this time last year a friend of mine suggested I resolve to not spend a single dollar at Coles or Woolworths for the entire year. Given my view of these two monolithic stores, and my food ethics, it was a challenge I wanted to accept. The year is almost done and I’m now taking the time to reflect on how I achieved the challenge.

The greenhouse emissions of the transport system that takes fresh food and other grocery items from their country or place of origin, to a wholesale market, to a warehouse, trucked to a grocery store, and sometimes onto a second or third store are huge. Products criss-cross the country, and sometimes the world. If you try buying a locally grown mango in Darwin, and it will have been shipped to the wholesale market in Brisbane, before being trucked all the way back to Darwin for retail sale. Then there’s the food miles of importing foods like garlic (commonly imported from China), lemons (often from the USA) or asparagus (from Peru) into that system for them to be bought to you in the off season. On top of that, there’s the hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) and hydrochloroflurocarbons (HCFCs) used in the refrigeration of all that food throughout its journey. Many of these chemicals are potent greenhouse gases. HCFCs also deplete the ozone layer. HCFC-22 is the most common refrigerant in Australia. 

I also have social concerns with both businesses. Farmers have been complaining about unfair prices for produce, and unreasonable contract requirements for years. The $2 milk wars were a very visual example of some of these practices, but similar complaints have been made by vegetable producers including those producing potatoes and onions. Indeed, in 2013, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission undertook an investigation of the major supermarkets. They began with over 160,000 complaints, took a deeper look at over 3,000 of those and commenced about 550 individual investigations. Around 140 of these progressed to in-depth investigations, resulting in more than 30 court proceedings, over 30 court enforceable undertakings, and the payment of numerous infringement notices. Most recently, the watchdog launched major legal action against Woolworths for unconscionable conduct toward suppliers. In November and December last year, it is alleged that Woolworths developed a strategy to demand payments totalling $18.1 million from its suppliers simply to increase the supermarket’s profit margin.

Woolworths is also the largest owner and operator of high loss poker machines in the country. The majority of these machines are located in low-socio-economic neighbourhoods. Responding to recent government calls to reduce harm of poker machines, Woolworths took the opposite approach, facilitating and exacerbating the behaviour of addicts.

Fresh food

Before the challenge began, I already bought the majority of my fresh food from my local farmers market. This resolution meant that I needed to better plan my food needs, so I didn’t need to dash to the shop for just that one thing to make dinner complete. The market is a cash only (pretty much) zone, so I go with my $50 and get all my fresh food for the week. I can also get locally grown dried chickpeas, rain fed rice and rice flour and olive oil. I know the name of the person who produced every item in my market bag each week and that’s a great feeling. It is the polar opposite of the Woolworths/Coles shopping experience. I buy locally produced, gold medal winning, free range eggs; heritage beef; biodynamic lamb straight from the farmer; delicious free range poultry; high quality cheeses; locally produced and bottled Jersey milk from a family business; seafood from people who own the boat, catch the fish, and bring it to market for me to buy. I buy the freshest, tastiest vegetables from organic and ‘conventional’ farms within 200 kilometres of my home.

I recognise how lucky I am to have such a good quality farmers market so close, on such a regular basis. I firmly believe that weekly farmers markets are the way to change people’s shopping behaviour, with this regularity there is a viable shopping alternative that can be relatively easily incorporated into a routine. A fortnightly market may be OK, but a monthly market will only lead to specialty and luxury items that people might buy for a treat. A monthly market does not provide a serious alternative for daily food items. I urge market organisers, and communities considering the beginning of a farmers market to plan for a weekly market, containing as much locally produced food as shoppers would reasonably consume within the seasons.

I would highly recommend upcoming markets look for inspiration from the Capital Region Farmers Market. They take great effort to get good variety of produce so that it is possible for shoppers to buy all their food there each week. This does not mean that everything on offer at the supermarket is available at the farmers market, but with due consideration of seasonality and what actually grows in the region, you can easily buy food for a balanced, healthy diet.

In spring and summer I also do a lot of foraging for wild greens, edible weeds and a variety of fruits that I eat fresh and preserve. There’s not much better than walking downstairs to the nature strip to pick some purslane, wild brassica or sheep sorrel to go in your salad. It’s far tastier than shop bought greens, packed with nutrition, and doesn’t cost a cent. It’s also a wonderful excuse to get into nature and relax outside. It’s certainly a superior experience than a peak hour visit to the supermarket.

Dry goods

I buy my flour, nuts and dried beans from my local food co-op. The prices are very reasonable, the range is quite extensive and there are a lot of organic options. The co-op is on my bike ride from home to my office. I take my clear cubes and reusable tins into the store and weigh the containers before filling them up. If you volunteer your time once a month, you get a reasonable discount on your shopping items. They have a good supply of other local fresh produce including fruit and veg, vegan cheeses, tofu and fermented foods. They also have bulk liquids like honey, vinegars, and molasses that you can pour into your own reusable jars and bottles.

My pantry

A post shared by Susan (@susansumptuousuppers) on

Household products and toiletries

I buy most of my cleaning products, soaps, shampoo, toothpaste and such from my local IGA. I am happy to buy items from them because the store is walking distance from my apartment, the service is friendly and personal, and I prefer to support independent and family owned/operated business. IGA stores are always stocked with items that are reflective of the locals and the owners, providing a community feel that I prefer to the nationwide grocery chains. While IGA still has some power of collective purchasing, stores have more flexibility to buy from local suppliers and don’t have the same power to force unreasonable expectations on suppliers.

I buy my household cleaning products, including soap powder, dish detergent and shower cleaner from IGA. Although, I have just started replacing my shower cleaner with a natural vinegar solution. I often use bi-carbonate of soda for cleaning items such as the stove top, but I buy that from IGA too.

I buy all my laundry products from IGA. I use Aware soap powder to wash my clothes, it comes in a recycled cardboard box, is good to use in a front loader, and is free of the optical brighteners that fade coloured fabrics over time. I have however, discovered that my local food co-op sells bulk laundry detergent, which I may start to use instead of the boxes I buy at IGA. I buy a eucalyptus based wool wash by Earth Choice and the very occasional block of Sard soap for hand washing stubborn stains and grime out of whites.

Shampoo and conditioner were the hardest items for me. I like to buy in large containers, to minimise the packaging I’m responsible for. I like to use a silicon and paraben free shampoo. My IGA doesn’t stock the ‘natural’ version of the brand I like to use. In Canberra, we are lucky have a third supermarket chain, Supabarn. Supabarn does stock my Tresemme shampoo, but the stores are entirely out of my way. This has led me to consider changing brands, to a more ‘natural’ gentler shampoo that is available at my local chemist. The bottles are not available in as large a size as my Tresemme products, but they are organic, made in Australia and smell great.

I buy my shower soap from the farmers market. I love that the market rules only allow food and fresh produce stalls, but several of the olive producers have been allowed to sell olive oil soap alongside their other products. I buy a bar of olive oil soap produced by Homeleigh Grove just on the outskirts of Canberra. It has minimal packaging, is lovely and gently on the skin, and I personally like the people who produce it. I also buy the mini soap bars to put on the towel of my AirBnB guests, as a personal little, local touch.

I recently watched a great little video about how much change you can bring to the world by changing your own behaviour. It makes such a difference. Not only are you reducing your negative impact on the world, by choosing a better way, buying into better, more ethical and sustainable systems, you are making a constructive difference. You are modelling that positive behaviour to your friends and community, and supporting others who are working and living in similarly positive systems.

Will you give it a go this coming new year? Can you do a year without Coles and Woolworths? I would not be surprised if you find it as enjoyable as I did.

If you’d like to read more about the food portion of this shopping challenge, you can head over to my food blog: Susan’s Sumptuous Suppers.

This post was kindly republished by 1 Million Women.

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75 thoughts on “My year without Coles and Woolworths

    1. Hey Cathy! Alas, I’ve never shopped at Aldi, so they don’t really factor into my equations. I do know that they were included on the latest ACCC case about conduct to suppliers though. I presume their shipping and refrigeration practices will be the same too.

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    2. Well done Susan!! I’m also avoiding Coles & Woolworths & Aldi for smaller grocers etc. Because I have found out how they use their buying power to screw small Australian farmers and suppliers into very difficult contracts… they show no humanity or responsibility for other Australians, who actually make or grow our food. Plus I dislike how they keep nudging out so many check-out staff for cold computer machines. The invasion of the check-out computers is also bad for our youth – who have traditionally started their working lives in such jobs. Lets face it; the boards of these giants supermarkets don’t care to hire anyone anymore, and would be happy to cut further costs until it is all automated, except their jobs in senior management of course. So I and my family now shop at the few remaining smaller butchers and grocers for fresh food from real humans. If we all are out of jobs who will buy their groceries!

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      1. Well said Nino! I’m so glad to hear you avoid them too! The checkout/staffing situation is very problematic and came up in a discussion today. Thanks for your comment.

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  1. Susan, what are your thoughts on the fact that IGA’s are owned by South African’s and Coles and Woolies are owned by Australian shareholders? Although they are ‘locally owned’ businesses, at the same time they are passing money out of the Australian economy.

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    1. I don’t know about being owned by South Africans, my intetest is in individual, local ownership of the stores. As for Australian shareholders of Coles and Woolies, I’d care more about them if they had their company behave in more ethical and sustainable way.

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  2. Great post! I have to say that I really miss the Capital Region Farmers Market since leaving Canberra. The farmers markets in suburban Melbourne are much smaller, generally more expensive (compared to Canberra) and, in my area, less accessible since the markets rotate between various suburbs each week, rather than being in one place every week. It’s much harder logistically…
    The larger produce markets at South Melbourne or Prahran are pretty good, although you can still find plenty of Mexican or Chinese garlic to get upset about!
    On the topic of shampoos and conditioners, I buy from Back to Basics in Williamstown, Victoria (http://www.back-to-basics.com.au). They can post Australia-wide (although I’ve not tried to mail order their 5L bottles!). I’m not sure if they supply any Canberra health shops or co-ops.

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  3. Thank you for this article 🙂 I’m on the same path of conscious consuming.
    I buy shampoo bars from biome.com.au. Or there is a “lush” store in canberra city, but they use sls in some of their products, so I’m a bit jaded with them at the moment. They are amazing, and no plastic packaging. And good for your hair!
    And I don’t use any chemicals for cleaning since finding Norwex. Easier than bicarb soda too 🙂

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  4. a heartening warm fuzzy account,nice writing,.. like a comfy old jumper and so nice to feel less guilty about the impact of the middle class Western lifestyle on the planet and the poor. I wholeheartedly agree supporting local markets and food co-ops is great for their growth and longevity, especially if you can get there regularly, (and yes all the better if they’re weekly – unless on a day you work…… but may I play the devil’s advocate and argue that opting out of the mainstream is not the fastest way to change the world… and buying at the big stores is not all negative. in fact being a regular customer means you can influence the behaviour of the supermarket. the more people choosing local, free range, organic and ethical products (eg recycled toilet paper, phosphate free clothes washing liquid, organic cotton tampons etc) the more they are stocked which in turn helps those businesses grow. changing the products available in supermarkets also influences the wider community who may not previously have considered such options. I can remember when I could only buy herbal tea and organic brown rice in a specialty health food store and for the special price. I often joke about the hipster generation but they are to be congratulated for bringing ancient grains, kale, chia seeds, goji berries, etc to the big supermarket chains

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    1. I’m glad you liked the piece Alegria. While it is nice the supermarkets now stock more of these items, until they show they can be trusted to do the right thing by the producers and suppliers of food, I will not be convinced. The nature of the nationwide food distribution and retail system will also not be changed. The emissions from refrigeration and transport will remain in such a system, but are greatly reduced by localised food systems.

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      1. HI susan, its been interesting ready your bits and peices. I live in werribee, and close to all supermarkets. Which i’m not sure if thats good or bad!
        Before they built up the homes and supermarkets, it was a farming community, and still is to a degree.
        they grow lots of cabbages, and broccoli here and garlic, and perhaps quite a bit more that i don’t even know about i’m sure. We also have our smaller stores, and i’m not sure where their foods come from.
        But a bit like yourself, i’ve tried to buy from markets, and food the prices way over the top, and unaffordable, unfortunately. but where i can i will be free range. I’m confused about a few things tho, i’ve bought free range, from one, and i found the yokes to be rather sort of orangey. then from another and they yolks are yellow……Which is really the Free Range!!!
        but okay i’m off the beaten track, i also tend to think that not only refrigeration causes the ozone problems, but, the wars going on in other countries, this would be so bad for our ozone also! Also perhaps each time an asteroid blows past our planet, it put us off our access, and changes the weather world wide…
        So who do we really blame! It could very well be a number of things stuffing up our ozone!

        Okay enough about that one. but i do believe we should be helping our local growers, and be eating their foods, and why should our foods be travelling miles and miles back and forth before we can get at them. Obviously those that are doing that, sure must know they are wasting fuel, and time, and the fruit and foods in the meantime are not getting any fresher!!! Its certainly a problem indeed.
        anyway i try to do my bit, and i found too that i can grow some parsley, and some fruit, and herbs of my own, and at least know i’m getting that fresh :). Personally sorry I wouldn’t shop at IGA for all the teas in china, they are way too expensive.
        Okay i think best to leave it at that. i could chat about this for days on end.
        good reading your blog, cheers from victoria

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  5. Sorry to be a grump and rain on your parade Susan, but I stopped going to farmers markets, as I found them far too expensive. Especially when I ended up throwing most of it out unused, due to bugs in the middle of greens etc. Also, $50 wouldn’t go very far, especially in IGA or the chemists, even for two oldies with a small appetite and not much hair 😀. Congratulations for trying though.

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    1. Well it feeds me for a well Arleen. Although my budget is tight, I eat very well. If your priority is to throw food away rather than cut around bugs, you will continue to waste food, another great source of emissions in developing countries. I can’t say I’ve found such a problem with the food I buy at the farmers market though, and I usually waste very little.

      Although my budget is now tighter than it was then, quite some tiem ago I wrote a post about how I eat so well on the money I spend on food each week. Perhaps you’ll find that interesting. As I said, I wrote it when I was shopping for two people, and spending a little more per person than what I do now. Now my food budget is $50 a week. https://susansumptuousuppers.wordpress.com/2013/06/08/susans-sumptuous-suppers-savings-tips/

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  6. I use local Supermarket chain Foodland here in SA and find it excellent – a whole new concept in the brand new McLaren Vale store. They make a point of stocking locally produced items. There are a number of ‘natural’ shampoos etc these days such as “Uniquely Natural”. Also do a whole range of cleaning products. Lucky enough to have the oldest Farmers’ Market in the country nearby as well, plus some very enterprising producers who deliver to the door. I feel I live in a food bowl and am blessed with such a range of options. I’ve set up ‘Food, Glorious Food’ a page for those who enjoy cooking, eating etc here on FB – pop over if you’re interested! Posting and sharing welcome.

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  7. inspirational Susan, just not sure I can do it on my budget for 4 people, being on the gold coast I have a weekly farmers market, but the prices are astronomical $8 for one pumpkin for example and the organic meats / chickens would lead me to become vegetarian for their expense. Such a shame that natural food is so much more expensive than processed garbage in coles / woolies. As for freshness, an apple from coles is always brown in the middle, so I do buy a few select fresh apples and bags of lettuce from the markets when I can get there.

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    1. Well Vicki, as I said in the piece, my budget is very tight myself. I spend $50 a week on food. I just made a choice to do with it the best I can. I’m glad you liked the article.

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    1. Zoe – your information is a little off. My father owns a Supa IGA in a small town of 2000 people in Seville. It’s a great store and was adequately supplying the town’s needs, including lots of local produce and speciality items. However Woolworth’s with their huge market share and ability to profit off the back of their poker machines decided to build a huge supermarket right across the road from my father, nearly driving him out of business. AND they are making a loss too. But that is OK because they can sit their until they drive him out of business.
      He is fighting, but is 70 years old and does not have the energy to do too much. This is a long story, but the bottom line is it is very hard for him to sell his business now that is worth much less than the loan that he has on it.
      This is not a unique situation, it is happening right across the country and you need to support local businesses otherwise you will no longer have a choice.
      IGA stores are owned by individuals, Metcash sometimes support stores to get them up and running or to help them out when things are tough (which they have done for my Dad). I’m not sure about shares in Woolworths… that is not something I can comment on but MOST people have shares in WW and Coles in the superannuation. Unless you opt for ethical shares.
      Not many people realise that 80 cents in every dollar you spend goes to “the big two” in some way or another: petrol, take away food, hardware, mining, chain department stores, pubs and the list goes on.
      Try to make choices that support your local community… at least some of the time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Kate, thank you so much for sharing this story. It means a lot and is a great contribution to the discussion. I hope you liked my piece.

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  8. Excellent work! Showing what is possible when all the stars align is very laudable, but I dont thing “good, weekly” farmers markets are the norm, nor accessable by many at this stage.
    I think the real, hidden point here is that although the “local farmers and producers who are so downtrodden by the big bullying supermarket chains are actually part of the problem themselves and are a little cheeky for complaining about big corporate greed business practices when that is precisely the business sector THEIR volumes and methods cater to!
    Intensive, industrialised, chemical-dependent monoculture farming is not at all sustainable BY DEFINITION. If you perpetially grow a single crop on a large scale you WILL deplete the grounds nutrients AND encourage and enable pestillence specific to that crop. (UNSUSTAINABILITY)..so in come the fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides(Hello Monsanto). Then you get modified crops (hello Monsanto) which CONTAIN pesticides, or are herbicide resistant to enable MORE chemicals to be used(hello Monsanto). And the volumes they produce are surely suitable for giant international markets and supermarket chains only?
    Smaller, diverse farms with rotating crops and organic practices are surely the future…because they are out of the past…before farm industrialisation that is how it was done for many centuries because it woorks, and that IS the definition of sustainable.
    And of course local farmer’s markets are where you meet this sort of neo-traditional farmer.

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  9. great item .. most people are bombarded with ads cheapest etc.shop carefully the yellow card deal at leading supermarket an absolute rip off. they have added the discount on to the price then given discount.have a look and you will see ..tomatoes are grown up in top of western australia shipped to perth and then dispatched back north takes up to 35 days for it to be sold.woolies shares are mostly now owned by chinese. they want big divi hence the increase in prices..get back to aussie owned then will be better coles bunnings well run and very price effective

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  10. In abt 2 years I have only been into Coles or Woolies 5-6 times – there is odd things I buy which i can only get at Woolies – Coles I usually give a total miss because i can’t get a specific brand i need in their shops. I have excellent individual corner style shops all within a short distance of my place, butcher/greengrocer/local small foodworks shop where i do all my shopping and I save at least $100-$150 & at times more, on a monthly bill – and i know where all my food comes from when I buy.

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  11. Susan, one big way people can make a big difference for the environment is to go vegan/vegetarian. In that way you can reduce the amount of Greenhouse Gasses produced plus reduce the impact on local water resources.

    “For the epicurean traveler, discovering new landscapes also means discovering new foods. And no doubt, new tasting experiences are one of the highlights of going places, yet I’m going to suggest something a bit radical, yet simple—that perhaps we all consider abstaining, at least sometimes, from dishes containing either meat or dairy, even while we’re abroad in new lands with exotic cuisines to explore. Don’t panic at the suggestion—just listen: An abundance of science analyzing the impacts on the earth of livestock farming has concluded that humanity’s appetite for meat and dairy products is having serious environmental consequences. Livestock species contribute directly and indirectly to deforestation, water pollution, air pollution, greenhouse gases, global warming, desertification, erosion and human obesity, and virtually anywhere you go in the world, the damage done by ruminants, pigs and poultry, and those who grow feed crops for them, is visible on the land. Dry and scrubby Greece, once a nation of woodlands, has gone to the goats. In Brazil, forests are falling before the advance of soybean fields, cultivated largely as beef fodder. In New Zealand, the banks of wild streams are frequently found trampled and muddied by grazers.”

    Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/is-the-livestock-industry-destroying-the-planet-11308007/#8f7YCcCizHJ1rQGz.99
    Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
    Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

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  12. Thanks for the article it helps me to re educate myself about why I go to great lengths to buy our obscenely expensive food . We do buy meat from a farmer in the local are who prepares it as well at bulk . We also buy directly from Honest to Goodness bulk orders for nuts and seeds to make flour and alternative mils . Although grown organically I still think it travels to far but it wouldnt need refridgeration i guess. We also go either directly to each grower (time consuming ) to get the fruit and vegies as each farm has different type of maybe one or two products .Or we go to a great orgainic commercial growers farm .I do this so the kids know where food comes from and they eat anything I put infront of them as they pick it or know the person who grows it . Still It Costs a LOT . It really does .I can only buy whats in season at the time . My kids love Kale and found it at a supermarket and couldnt understand how its not in season but its at the shops she is young . The vast majority of our income is spent on food and it does make me question what I do . We dont ever afford to buy take away or anything pre made.Its a choice I hope ive made the right decision .

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      1. The problem with ‘bad eating’ is that the results don’t show up for years. All your efforts will be hard to monitor and the judge Roslyn but at least you will know you’ve done your best.

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  13. I love that you are walking the talk and I find it inspiring to change some more of my habits. You mention favourite shampoos and body soaps…I have used nothing but a face washer and water for almost 2 years together with a crystal deodorant. I do not smell and my skin is healthier than it has ever been. I have more recently started “no poo” shampoo and I am in day 13 of washing my hair with nothing but my finger tips and water. It too looks better than it ever has, it looks like day 2 of my previous wash cycle…every day! So there’s a few more products you may be able to remove from your shopping list 🙂

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  14. Hi, Interesting. Its amazing how you DONT support Australian Companies but yet you live here. What a ridiculous half baked article.

    So in reality besides IGA you support overseas companies and the fact they PAY NO TAX HERE and dont pay anything in regards to our greenhouse effect…

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    1. Kat, it seems as though you didn’t read or understand what was written. There are plenty of links to research supporting Susan actions. Just to make it clear for you, by purchasing most products from local businesses and farmers markets, Susan is supporting those small businesses who not only PAY TAX but also provide employment. In regards to purchasing locally grown and distributed food she is NOT adding to the greenhouse effect as the food is not travelling a gazillion miles before it is sold to the consumer.

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  15. This video is worth a watch. There are many more like it on Youtube.
    By the way IGA Australia has no affiliation with the American one as posted by one of your readers. Susan I think what you have done is admirable. Not many people are prepared to go out of their comfort zones to stand up for their beliefs. Keep it up!

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  16. Great article, thanks.
    I am lucky enough to live around the corner from the local shops and enjoy buying my bread and milk from the independent local baker, using the local post office where the post master knows everybody’s names (and of their families) and especially the little independent pharmacy where I know the pharmacist and his family and can trust his advice. He also regularly sells Tresemme at very good prices 😄 Perhaps you might find it at your local pharmacy (rather than one of the large discount chains)?

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  17. Hi Susan
    Its very reassuring that there are other people out there who understand the impact of coles and Woolworths (Monopoly) has on our future. I am 24 and constantly making myself aware of the impact I have on the earth. I love going to the EPIC markets most sundays… We are so lucky to have something like this nearby. The price really doesnt bother me and honestly i dont think it is that much more plus the farmers usually ‘give you extra’ or round down the price. I wish more young people would also get on board and stop labelling it as expensive. We would have to be one of the most richest generations so factoring this as well as the quality of the produce its a no brainer to choose it really. Everyone has been convinced that BIG BULK shopping is the way to live but I couldnt disagree more, i think this approach contributes to that household average 30% of groceries ending up in landfill. I hope your message goes long and far!

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    1. indeed Renee. Like I said in the piece, you don’t need to spend more when yougo to the market, I do all my food shopping for a week for $50. I’m glad you like the piece.

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  18. Supa Barn are no better than Coles and woolies, I have seen them push out a local grocer just to get more space for their liquor section at kaleen. I did see the manager stand out the front of the grocer and write down all the prices and then go in to supa barn and lower all their prices. Sad to say the grocer couldn’t compete.

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  19. Great article! I was a bit concerned recently hearing about possible (or was it confirmed?) poor conditions & pay for workers of IGA suppliers. But sometimes I’ve not been sure where to get some items if not an IGA (unfortunately can’t think of recent examples).
    The Friends of the Earth shops & the Richmond Farmers Market in Melbourne are great; now that I live in the Ringwood area it’s a bit more difficult.

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  20. Thank you so much Susan for an awesome initiative!!! I just wish this message get out to the broader community. Your Article, yes sorry, I don’t call any writing a Piece, it just sound weird, was amazing!

    I understand that some people have an issue with the prices on Farmers Markets. Here on the Sunshine Coast we have Farmers markets in the same spot every weekend, and some charge a fortune for their products. One of the growers had an interesting comment though. He said, compare the weight of my capsicum to the weight of a capsicum in wollies. So I did. His capsicum weighed nothing compared to wollies capsicum. So the kilo price difference made his cheaper. He said Wollies tell their producers to grow their produce in a certain way to make them heavier. It sounded like a conspiracy idea but when I checked it he was right.

    In terms of meat prices in my Farmers market it is way more expensive than wollies. But take bacon as an example. Wollies get much of their bacon from Denmarks meat farms. It tastes nothing compared to the bacon from my local butcher or Farmers market. So I need much less in a carbonara of the quality meat so the meat price is not that much more expensive in a dinner.

    As a single dad of two girls for 16 years I know all about food budgets. So this is not just about what I believe in, like not wanting bacon made in a meat factory in Denmark and then transported across the world with all the pollution that will cause. I also believe in staying away from Coles and Wollies because you can use less of good quality food and have a superior taste, so it doesn’t have to cost more. You just use more of the cheaper ingredients

    I have also found both Coles and Wollies to discontinue good quality brands like Soya sauce, dish washing liquid and other products and replace them with crap products and bring up their prices. I now have to pay double the price for Soya sauce in wollies and get a really bad product.

    And products like their Chips have gone from 250 grams a bag to 220, to 200 to 180 to 175 and now its down to 170. And the best part-they charge more fore it!!!! If you really want chips, and can bring yourself to go to Aldi, they have 250 gram bags of chips cheaper than wollies 170 gram bags. And they taste better!

    When I do have a lazy day and go to wollies, the worst experince of it is to see all these people lining up to the automatic checkouts. It makes me soooo sad to see all these people thinking it being okey that no young people have the chance to get a job in the Supermarket checkouts. How can they not see the stupidity in that?

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    1. Hey Steve! I’m totally with you! I’m so glad you liked the piece! Thanks for your great comment and responses to other comments. I’m stoked with how many people have read the piece, so far it’s over 13 000! I was really glad that 1 Million women republished this post on their website. When they shared it on facebook it got 1000 likes. Out paper here in Canberra, The Canberra Times, also published a reworked version of the piece I posted on my food blog, Susan’s Sumptuous Suppers. So I’m pretty glad with how much coverage it’s gotten. Yahoo Finance did a new sstory on it, so did the Daily Mail!

      Anyway, you keep looking after yourself, those girls and the planet.

      Cheers
      Susna

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  21. Great article! It bemuses me to hear people claiming that farmers markets are too expensive. If one looks at the average price of the majority of produce sold at FMs ( veg and fruit) it’s around $5 per kg give or take a few bucks. Look at the price of the majority of food items sold in supermarkets (packaged, processed products) and you can calculate (or just look at the price tag info on the shelf) that it’s around $20 + per kg mark (you often need to add a zero to the unit price as they’re often priced per 100g). And, guess what? If you spend more of your budget at the FM and less at supermarkets you’ll automatically be eating healthier 😜

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  22. As an American living in Melbourne for nearly 9 months, I love shopping at the local markets like Prahan, Queen Vic or South Melbourne. I live in the CBD area so these markets are easiest for me to access. By far, I’ll always get better quality and prices at these markets vs Woolies or Coles. I cook nearly every day and we can live off about 100aud/per week for food-related groceries. It’s certainly doable to shop at your local markets if you put your mind to it! 🙂

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  23. ❤ Thank you. I too took up a monthly challenge in Nov 2013 not to shop with the duopoly. I did it easily and then pushed through December. While I must admit I have shopped at these two for odd items every couple of months or so since, I have made a point of looking out alternatives to use. Now 95% of everything I purchase is from markets, food co-op, bulk wasteless pantry, butchers and small, family owned stores who stock items from locals or Western Australia. I really enjoy being able to talk to the people who supply my food regarding their produce, telling them why I shop with them and encouraging others to do the same. As consumers we need to be heard by the producers so we get what we want. Three cheers to you 😀

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  24. Hi Susan, I’m a university student doing a study on food sustainability and I find your story incredibly inspiring. Could I possibly interview you about your experience?

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  25. Hi Susan, my name is Lizzy Hawk and I’m a university student doing a study on food sustainability. I find your story incredibly inspiring and I would love to incorporate it into my project to use as an example for people trying out farmers’ markets and local businesses for the first time. Could I possibly interview you about your experience? My email is hawk@iwu.edu.

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