Archive for February 3rd, 2010

I went to the supermarket this morning, laying in with all the good things I can’t get at the local farmers’ market. Such as fruit. And, er, crisps, and cotton face wipes, and washing powder. And random, irresistible bargains from the fresh food aisles, which is a modern, urban version of hunter-gathering or seasonal eating. If in doubt about what tonight’s dinner should consist of, pick up whatever happens to be lying around accessorized in a nice red ‘reduced’ label. Tip: this is a policy best employed in an upmarket supermarket such as the one I frequent (and yes, sadly I do not use the term ‘frequent’ loosely, despite my predilection for the farmers’ market), where the produce is always of the finest and freshest, and the discounts of the very deepest.

Occasionally it gets absurd. I have seen spokes of perfectly ripe brie sold off for 10p (around 15¢) and a couple of weeks ago snagged some delicious mince pies for 29p, and a huge pot of brandy cream (which is, by the way, still fresh at the time of writing, a fact that terrifies me somewhat) for 10p. I’ve had an entire salmon for £5, and fillet steak for about that much per kilo. It is merely a matter of keeping a sharp eye out, and being flexible about the shopping list. The down-side is that on the rare times when I’ve had to do an entire full-price shop, I feel rather more aggrieved than is entirely justified.

So today, I think I hit the ultimate in absurd discounts. Due to the rather strange practice in the UK of selling most fruit and veg pre-packaged (my inner French housewife is not impressed by this babying), it seems to acquire a legal requirement for a ‘best before’ label. Or do I mean a ‘sell by’ label? Or even a ‘use by’ label? All these have different meanings in law, which remains largely opaque to the consumer, and instead of providing the useful health-and-safety guidance that the legislators doubtless intended, mostly just leads to mountains of food being discarded by the supermarkets. I am going to restrain myself from going on a very tempting major rant about this (for fear of striking terror into the heart of all three and a bit readers of this poor blog, and showing at least a minimum of respect for their boredom thresholds). At least my supermarket discounts so sharply because they really, clearly do prefer to sell it than throw it out. But either way, once it hits its appointed day of doom, it must go.

So I present you with Exhibit A:

Yes, folks. You are looking at still green ‘home-ripening’ bananas. That are officially past it.( And therefore half price.)

To which I say, frankly, that’s bonkers.

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