One week with no shopping... a fishy business!

So I have now been shop free for just over a week. I have been tempted - I even added a book to my amazon cart at one point - but I stopped myself and shan't be checking out with it until April 10th.

The one thing I am still allowed to buy is groceries, but over the last few nights Gary and I have been learning from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and Dispatches about the terrible world of fishing! The fish on our fish counters is, it seems, rarely what one might call 'fresh', and is sometimes not even what it's label says it should be! And then there is the fish that doesn't even make it on-shore. While it is essential that fish stocks are protected, the practice of dumping tonnes and tonnes of over-quota caught fish, now dead, back into the sea because it is illegal to land, just can't be the best way to protect fish stocks. Dead fish aren't helping anyone's stocks, although I'm sure they're feeding something in the sea, they aren't helping maintain cod numbers for example. This really seemed like another example of gross Bal Tashchit (wasting) which is so much a part of our consumer behavious these days, whether it is how our desire for the latest fashion is fed with cheap, almost disposable clothing, or how our food is mass produced, factory farmed, and pumped full of who knows what!

I remember at university a curry sauce came out of a jar - it was only when I met Gary that I learnt it was a few simple spices and onions that form the basis of most good Indian food. Being able to cook from scratch has been a skill I've enjoyed empowering myself with over the last few years, and it's a wonderful feeling to know one can make things without stuffing ourselves full of products and preservatives. But there is also a sense of disconnect from our food sources. Living in central London it isn't practical to grow all my own food (although when I finally had a garden last April I planted as much as I could that was edible on our tiny patio and borders), but I am also searching for ways to feel more confident that what I am buying is what it should be, and is a green and ethical choice.

There's so much to consider on each shop that it can feel overwhelming, so I thought it might be intersting to gather together here a list of your ethical considerations when going shopping: how do you make your weekly shop make sense?
I was conscious last night that I was attracted to a punnet of cherries that said '25% extra free'. On closer inspection I discovered the cherries were from Chile. The food miles and plastic packaging were enough to stop me in my tracks, so I'll just have to wait for cherry season! That's my initial contribution to the list - please do add yours below...

And while you're at it... why not sign to help stop discard of dead fish


  1. Shopping ethically is tricky business, partly because it depends on what one means by "ethical". My sisters and I have more than once agonised (and argued) over whether one should buy the Fairtrade bananas from countries further away (ie more airmiles, but hopefully better for the workers) or the organic ones shipped a much shorter way. Environment or people, essentially. Moral dilemma. - sf

  2. Yup, absolutely agree! What side do you fall down on? I tend to end up going for fairtrade - I guess I am prioritising people's quality of life and equality, but am arguably doing so at the expense of the environment. Perhaps all bananas, wherever they're shipped from, should be fair trade! One of the biggest problems with our consuming in the west, is that it so often comes at the cost of the poorest in the world... Thanks for getting involved :)

  3. Well, it's one I grapple with to the point of simply cutting bananas from my shopping list ;) No, seriously, I tend to put mankind's immediate needs first, and thus I usually go down the Fairtrade route. My youngest sister on the other hand puts long-term sustainability first. Good arguments for either choice. Hopefully one day consumer power will steer the industry towards a combination of both fair trading AND ecological awareness. - sf


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