Thinking about the supermarkets and what to write led me to start remembering back to how things used to be. I grew up in or near a small country town in Mid Wales. When I say it was small it was the biggest town in the county but the population was only about 6,500 . . . the whole county was only 50,000 so I guess it would qualify as small. Looking back to that time, around the late 50s early 60s, food shopping was a lot different and choices were often limited. But the quality was first class.
There were no supermarkets just individual shops for everything you needed like the greengrocer for all your fresh veg, the butcher, the baker and for your more general supplies there was the grocer, probably referred to as a master grocer*, a rather grand name but usually lived up to. Our master grocer certainly lived up to the name. I can still picture the double fronted shop on the High Street, now home to a well known building society, and the smell that greeted you when you walked in of cheeses, freshly ground coffee . . . just heavenly. And back then there were no Off Licenses so the grocer would often sell wine and spirits. Sherry came in big packs and you took your own bottle in to be filled.
The weekly shop was an easy job, for those that could afford the higher prices, as all you had to do was drop off your order book and everything would be boxed up and delivered straight to your home. Funny how things have come full circle with the supermarkets offering the same service via online shopping.
The grocer has of course disappeared with the advance of the supermarkets and, whilst a lot of us complain about them, supermarkets do provide us with a choice of food that was just not available a few years ago.
So where am I going with all this? Well I think the quality of the original top High Street grocers is coming back only none of us seem to realise it, either because we are too young (not me) to remember grocery shops or because they are under a different guise. It is the new breed of farm shops.
Farm shops used to be housed in small wooden sheds, have a few shelves with home-made this or that on them and large bags of potatoes and boxes of whatever veg was in season. Since then they have come a long way and they are a great source of quality food, selling fresh meat and veg as well as having fine cheese counters and good range of wines to choose from. You will find quality products throughout the range of foods.
If you have not explored the farm shops in your area make it a must as you may be missing out on some great food. I decided last month to see for myself by visiting one I had heard about (through Twitter yes it does work) near Newmarket . . . La Hogue Farm shop.
They say an image is worth a thousand words . . .
Take advantage of your local farm shop.
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There is always something happening in supermarkets - new products, product demonstrations, shelves reorganised so you can't find anything. Not always interesting, quite often boring and sometimes a chore but just occasionally something catches your eye, something is interesting . . .