Shop local – now more than ever!

shop local organic vegetables

Shop local – now more than ever. The rise of supermarkets during the second half of the 20th century (which has continued unabated into the 21st) has been phenomenal. The convenience of a one-stop-shop is undeniable, but at what cost?

I came across this interesting article from the Sustainable Food Trust and thought I would share some of the important points with you here.

Is this progress?

As of 2019, independent food retailers made up a mere 5% of the sector, with supermarkets and convenience stores accounting for more than 75%. Such dominance of the sector has seen a severe impact on local, independent food shops.

Consider this:

  • Butchers: in 1960, there were approximately 43,000 butcher’s shops in the UK; this figure had fallen to around 6,000 by 2019
  • Fishmongers: 1940s – 8,000; today – 950
  • Greengrocers: 1950 – 43,000; 2018 – 2,500

A devastating impact. Over this period, the average household spend on food fell from 33% of income in the late-1950s to just 16% in 2019.

Shop local for integrity and quality

Once upon a time, we knew our local farmers, butchers and bakers and could trust the integrity and quality of the food they produced. We cooked from scratch and with the seasons and knew what to do with a chicken, a piece of brisket or a whole fish. Meals were planned, shopped for with a list and cooked ahead.

We saved money by making meals go further and used delicious leftovers creatively. We knew how to choose good fruit and vegetables and what to do with them. It was a priority to nourish ourselves and our family with delicious home-cooked meals.

Apple pies and special treats were saved for Sunday teatime. Our food was good, we respected and enjoyed it and we certainly didn’t waste it!

Today we eat for convenience and speed, not for flavour and well-being. Our staples are ultra- processed, food-like products, made with unpronounceable ingredients, by people we don’t know.

“As consumers, we opt for convenience, but the trade-off is that we know almost nothing about how our food is grown, where it comes from, or whether it’s good for us.

If we are what we eat, then our bodies and souls are largely at the mercy of agribusiness, commodity traders and advertising executives thousands of miles from our homes and a world away from our real needs.”

– Sandor Katz

The Art of Fermentation

But are supermarkets really all that bad?

Getting everything we need in a single, convenient place, usually at lower cost, must be a benefit, right? Wrong! Fine if we treat food merely as fuel, but it’s so much more than that and in terms of cost, buying our food this way is appalling false economy – pay the farmer now or the doctor later?

And also consider this:

  • Supermarket staff often have little knowledge (or interest) in where the food comes from, how it’s produced or the impact on the environment
  • Food miles – the way mass processing and distribution works, meat from a farm 20 miles away can easily travel ten times that far just to end up in the local supermarket – madness!
  • Our choice is compromised – supermarkets will only stock the most in-demand (driven by their interests, btw) types of apple or cuts of meat, denying us the opportunity to buy and cook nutritionally-superior products
  • The impact on local economies – short, local food chains generally see money staying local, boosting employment rather than flowing out to large corporations based elsewhere

Lockdown – a catalyst for positive change?

In the past few years, we are increasingly showing an appetite for change. Farm shops and farmers’ markets have seen robust growth, while artisan bakeries and the popularity of authentic, slow-rise sourdough bread has also been steadily rising (if you pardon the pun!).

The coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown restrictions we have faced have only served to accelerate these shifts in our shopping habits. A recent study showed that 40% of people in the UK are using independent shops more than they were pre-lockdown.

Independent butchers have seen sales of beef increase by almost 50% since 2019, while farm shops have also seen a significant rise in new customers – 92% in a recent survey.

#Covid and the lockdowns have given us the opportunity to hit pause on our helter-skelter lives, and the chance to rediscover the forgotten #food wisdom of Granny and her fore bearers. Click To Tweet

Hit pause on stress and overwhelm

Modern life can be overwhelming. We are all too busy, stressed-out and distracted to reach for a saucepan when there is always something more important to be done. Instead, we reach for convenience and vow to make it up at the weekend. Sadly, each successive generation is losing the ability, the confidence and the will to cook real food from scratch.

My mum worked full-time in a tiring factory job in the 1950s, but she cooked every day and always put something delicious and nourishing on the table. In her day, there were few refrigerators, no convenience foods, no ready meals, no takeaways and eating out was a treat reserved for special occasions or holidays.

Thinking ahead, planning and preparation were the order of her day and they can be ours too, with a little food wisdom and the will for better and more sustainable living for ourselves and our families.

We have lost our way in our ‘modern’ lifestyles. It can be no coincidence that as we have come to rely on convenience food products and have come to experience these products as mere ‘fuel’, the important social aspect of family mealtimes has become outdated for many of us.

As we seek to refill our tanks as quickly as possible, eat on the hoof (or alone, or in front of screens), the impact of eating a nutritionally impoverished diet in a culturally impoverished environment has taken its toll on our physical and mental health.

Source: Sustainable Food Trust

Covid and the lockdowns have given us the opportunity to hit pause on our helter-skelter lives, and the chance to reconnect with real food and rediscover the forgotten food wisdom of Granny and her fore bearers.

Healing foods = powerful medicines

No matter where we live on this planet, Mother Nature has provided us with nutrient-dense, healing foods that are powerful medicines if they are grown and farmed in traditional, time-honoured ways in healthy, unsprayed soils. We just need to start buying them again

Real food, properly prepared, cooked with love and eaten together, reconnects us with ourselves, with each other and with our planet.

Don’t you feel it’s high time we all reclaimed our food, our kitchens and our heath?

The Real Food SolutionThe Real Food Solution

Reclaiming our food wisdom and culture is what inspired to me to write The Real Food Solution.

Your path to good health starts in the kitchen with home-cooked foods made from real, whole ingredients (plant or animal) that are grown or raised in clean, healthy, chemical-free soils. Food is much more than a filling fuel for our body; it’s data for the body. Real, whole ingredients carry life- and health-giving molecules of information that tell our cells how and when to work.

I care deeply that the traditional, time-honoured foods, the powerful medicine that kept generations before us fit and free of chronic disease, are incorrectly demonised and side-lined by poorly designed, biased and misinterpreted science and often, no science at all.

I care about our future generations and I care about you. The Real Food Solution is a call to take action, to empower yourself with real food wisdom and make real food choices for better health and a sustainable planet.

All the evidence I have found is pointing us in one direction: we have to change what we are eating and how we are producing our food. The time-honoured, traditional real foods of our grandparents (and theirs) are the ones we must put back onto our dining tables if we are to reclaim our health and support a sustainable planet.

My book will equip you to ask questions, to make demands and to get rewards and I hope it will inspire, support and motivate you to take action on a journey towards a healthier, more energetic and better quality of life.

The Real Food Solution is dedicated to supporting the British Association of Holistic Medicine and Healthcare’s Real Food Campaign UK, a health-led collaboration of doctors, health practitioners, educators, farmers, growers, food producers and suppliers who want to join the dots between our food quality, our health and the sustainability of our food systems and our planet.

* Profits from the sale of the book will be donated to supporting

the important work of the Real Food Campaign.


* The Real Food Solution *

Main image: Daria Shevtsova/Pexels

Izabella Natrins

I'm here to inspire and support women at midlife and beyond to re-ignite purpose and meaning to take back control of their health and create the radical, resilient heath they want and deserve. As a whole-health expert with over 30 years experience in the field, a qualified Health and Wellness Coach and Ballymaloe-trained nutritional chef, my real food nutrition and lifestyle medicine programmes support women fighting fatigue, struggling with overwhelm, weight gain, sleep, energy and niggling or multiple diagnosed health issues. As an advocate for real food nutrition, regenerative agriculture and whole-health, my book 'The Real Food Solution' is an evidence-based treasury wisdom for energy, vitality and better health for people and planet and a call to action to change the way we grown, source and cook our food. As the CEO at The UK Health Coaches Association, I'm proud to continue the task of leading the first professional association for Health and Wellness Coaches in the world and the gold standard for the UK and Ireland.

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