Is Empathy only present if you are well and well fed?

Starvation Diet. What is it?

Mmmmmm chocolate, Mmmmmm sandwich, Mmmmmm doughnuts, Mmmmmm beer. Spoilt for choice. Trying to resist. When I resist I put the money in a pot. When the pot is full I send it (the money, not the pot) to somebody who needs it to survive. The art comes about through the documentation of the process, here and in other places. There is no end to this project.

19 Jan 2016


I've been a long time absent from this blog. In that time I've well and truly fallen off the wagon. If you are new to the blog or having trouble remembering way back when. I set off to try and resist  things I didn't need to eat and give the money saved to charity.  Over the course of the project I dropped 3 dress sizes and gave over £300 to the charity Practical Action.

Since then the weight has crept back on and the convictions dropped off. A spell in hospital saw me loose lots of weight in a very unhealthy style and then put it all back with some extra. I still try not to buy Nestle products but my discernment about other sweet treats has got a little stretched. I don't always shop local anymore. Instead I shop in what a I've convinced myself is the ethically best of  the supermarkets. I still ride my bike as a commuter but not so much for pleasure or challenge.

The main reason I  stopped, what was a pretty good way of life was probably boredom. The idea no longer sparked my intellect and as my focus on it slipped so did the life changes I'd made.

I've joined a new group Transition Northwich and we are hoping to change the world starting with our back yards. For me this has to come with a review of how I live now and how I could do a bit better.

My preoccupation today has been on local shopping and particularly food. Our Veg buying is covered with a veg box from a local farm. About 50% of the time I  buy meat from the town Butchers, normally a place called Birtwistles. The other time meat gets picked up in a main Lidl shop. I have arguments with others and myself where I say things like,
"Meat and Veg are 30% cheaper from local shops" and yet I sometimes don't make it to the butchers. Perhaps its because I don't really know if that fact is true anymore. So today with a bit more time on my hands I decided to compare the prices.

Its complicated for me because I ask the butcher for a pound of mince but the supermarket stuff comes in grams. I'm not that great at maths.

So the butcher (Birtwistles, Witton Street Northwich) told me that 500 grams is just over 1LB, which helps my addled brain a bit.  I bought from the butcher 3lb (1.5kg) of mince for £6.40 about £2.13 for 500g.
I also got some frying steak at £3.40 for 496 g

Off I toddled to Lidl to buy the things I can't get locally like coffee and tuna. Whilst there I compared the prices of the meat I'd bought.

Lidl Mince was £2.99/lb compared to the butcher price of £2.13/lb saving of 86p

Frying steak was in a small pack and of course unlike at the butchers I can only buy the amount they offer. If I'd been looking for an exact amount I'd have to have bought two packs and risk wasting some. But like for like it was:

Lidl price  was £2.99 compared to the butchers price of  £2.44 saving of 55p

Even I was surprised to find that at the supermarket I like the most, because its cheap and seems the most upfront, the local butcher was not only competing but winning. Tricks like smaller amounts in supermarket packs are well known within consumers minds but it's really hard to work out what it actually means. On the surface the supermarket pack looks cheaper but if we're back there next week because the cupboard is bare its not too good a deal. There is a pervasive mythology put about by big business that because they deal in bulk they are cheaper. That makes logical sense. They can afford to be cheaper and they do a good job of convincing us that this is the case. Each documentary which comes out telling how some supermarkets don't pay suppliers, buy at rock bottom prices or work on vast economies of scale confirms our belief that surely they must be cheaper then.

Even if we put all ethical things to one side and just focus on the bottom line my quick and very fallible look around the shops today seems to show that local is often still cheaper. I am still lucky to have a choice of 3 butchers and 2 veg shops in my town center. I enjoy the little chats I have in the shops and walking along a high street. This isn't nostalgia its here for us lucky Northwich residents now.

 I don't yet know how each compares on flavor you'll have to watch this space for that.