After the last three weeks, I have a greater appreciation of how a baby feels – depending on someone else to feed you. Well, perhaps it is not quite that bad, but rely upon friends to bring you whatever you need from the store is not easy. I am incredibly thankful for the wonderful friends that we have who are helping us out during this crisis. But this experience has changed forever how I will shop from now on.
Neither Alan nor I drive, so, since moving to Swansea, I have relied upon delivery, primarily Tesco and Amazon Pantry.
I have not been able to book a slot with Tesco since two weeks BEFORE quarantine began. I ended up making two big shops in-store in the ten days before our self-isolation. I got quizzical or nasty looks from people. And a genuinely vicious comment, ‘That’s ridiculous,’ from one woman. No, it was NOT ridiculous. If I had not topped up our staples, things would be much worse than they are now. In fact, we would either have little to eat, or I would have to risk infecting Alan with a deadly pathogen to feed us.
As for Amazon Pantry, after two or three weeks of nothing more than fancy chocolate being available, they have taken it down. Yes, taken their Pantry option completely off their site. The food that is available through other retailers on their website is exorbitant. Over a pound for a can of beans that would have cost half that before this crisis. And honestly, other things such as my gardening supplies are getting harder to come by with Amazon too.
And the milk delivery company that we have used for years, the one that we thought would be a viable option for staples like fresh fruit and veg, bread, butter, and cheese? We rarely get more than one item here and there from our list. Oh, we still get our milk and orange juice on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but not much else. On Monday, we got a loaf of bread, and yesterday, we got a block of cheese. We have not received fruit, veg, or salad except once that first week.
And while Tesco and all the major retailers are claiming they are prioritizing those who are self-isolating, there is NO mechanism for those like us – those who received the letter from their GPs to self-isolate but are not on any other social services list – to get a slot at all. Not even one a month. Nothing.
If I were not such a prepper or we did not have our friends and neighbors, as I said, my choices would be to go hungry or go against doctors’ orders and break self-isolation.
I am very grateful to our small local suppliers – our rare meats people from the local market and the hardware store (in Texas, we called ’em Feed & Seed stores). We were able to place a meat order and have it delivered – following proper social distancing procedures. And I have ordered over a dozen big bags of compost from the local Feed & Seed, also provided following proper social distancing.
But this situation has made us all more aware of how vulnerable our supply chain actually is. Incredibly fragile, in fact. As illustrated by this BBC News report about farmers pouring thousands of liters of milk away. While some of our most vulnerable children and the elderly go hungry?
The government and businesses are not responding fast enough or doing enough in this crisis. Period.
But this is not a political commentary. It is practical advice. So, once this is over (will it ever really be?), what am I going to do differently?
I am going back to shopping like I did when we was poor.
What do I mean by that?
I had no brand loyalty. I did not shop just a couple of stores. I went from place to place, looking for the best bargains. In fact, in the US, circulars (glossy adverts) came out every week, either in the Sunday paper or through the mail, sometimes both.
I usually only shopped once a month, though. When it was payday, I spent a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon going through each of those adverts, circling what I knew were good bargains, and comparing them against one another. Then, I took those with me shopping, making certain to purchase the best items at each location.
Since we don’t drive, I have gotten lazy. I only go as far as the city center. I do M&S for meats, Icelands for frozen foods, perhaps a bit of stuff at the market, then a Tesco shop, if I have not ordered delivery. No more.
Whether it is paying for taxis or asking our friends, I am going back to smart shopping. Those out of the way places like our local Asda and Morrisons. Maybe even the Lidl and Aldi that are as far away as Neath. And one called Farm something that my friend always brought me stuff from before she moved to America. We might even join Costco. Once a month, I am hitting them all.
Never again will my stock of non-perishables fall below six months. Never!
And of course, ya’ll know my plans for turning our @HomeCrazzyHome into an urban farm. Our fresh vegetables are easy, but the fruits may take me a bit longer to get up to speed on. Even my strawberries that are growing beautifully now need to have the blooms snip off of them this year, to produce more in the future. I can’t afford to do that with all of them, but I am going to with at least half of them.
As for cleaners, washing up liquid, and beauty products (ha-ha), I have been going to the environment center to refill old plastic bottles. No more, they were one of the first to close. I will order those same 5-liter bottles that they have and refill myself.
And I won’t forget those suppliers that have been so loyal to us during this time, either. Even if they cost a bit more every day. I will return that loyalty with my custom.
Of course, we have more space than lots of other people. But my plans stretch even that. I am taking over the one stable garage as it is, for my gardening supplies.
The truth is that we all get into auto-pilot mode. We do things just because they have become a habit. But times like these can show us the weakness in those behavior patterns. They certainly have for me. Of course, then it is up to us to course-correct, to make the necessary changes.
I’m gonna! How about you?
Okay, I need to get an early start to the garden today. I did not finish my work yesterday. So, now I have to do that before I can even begin today’s jobs. One thing I have learned from this whole thing…
We don’t pay enough for our fruit and veg.
Farmers deserve lots more money for what they do. So do…store clerks, nurses, and delivery drivers. Those are the people we need when the shit hits the fan.
Goddess bless and provide for you and yours,
From our @HomeCrazzyHome to yours