Monday, 6 October 2008

Food & Ale Fringe

As part of the Bidwells Norfolk & Norwich Food Festival, The Green Grocers host The Food&Ale Fringe.

It takes place on Sunday October 12th 10am-4pm right outside the shop and is FREE. As well as incorporating the Golden Triangle Farmers Market, there will also be a local beer and cider bar run by the Grain and Humpty Dumpty breweries with beers from all over the county. Live music from local bands will be playing for most of the day. In the food marquee we will have food adventures with Kids Pizza Making; demonstrations on cooking Game, Indian food and a great lamb dish served up by Richard Hughes, chef of the Lavender House in Brundhall. For bread lovers Norman Olley will be showing how to bake well and then we have sausage making for the kids. A great day out. You can find out times here.

The fringe is all about local food and this year we're trying to highlight that local food is not expensive. We've mentioned this in previous posts and we've done another survey that shows, again, that local producers and independent stores are beating the supermarkets in value for money. Have a look here and see how much you can save.

Finally, we'd like to say thanks to all those who attended GreenStock08. It was a great event and well attended after the rain stopped. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves - there were many people who contributed to reducing the effects of climate change by drinking as much of the Adnams Carbon Neutral beer as possible! The music was great we hope that the public and stallholders alike found the day inspirational in looking at practical measures to reducing your own carbon footprint. Many thanks to our funders and sponsors, namely NORCA, Norwich City Council, Lottery Awards for All; and, Toyota Dingles, Anglia Print Ltd, Adnams, Booja Booja and Cut Your Carbon.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008


GreenStock08, sponsored by Toyota Dingles is a climate change festival at Heigham Park, Norwich with music, art, food, drink and children's entertainment.

On the Main Stage sponsored by Cut your Carbon we have music from: a local string quartet; Folk from Andrew Kircham and Misto; Brazilian music from Rabo de Foguete; Cuban music from Guateque; pop from Sargasso Trio and country fusion from The Vagaband. Local poets will read in between the bands.

At 1pm we will stage the Climate Change Question with Councillors Andrew Little (Conservative, Leader of Norwich Conservatives); Brian Morrey (Labour, Deputy Leader of Norwich City Council); April Pond (Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Broadland); Adrian Ramsey (Green Party candidate for Norwich South Constituency, Leader of the Greens at Norwich City Council) - demand answers from them...

Booja Booja are sponsoring the Children's marquee The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts will be offering a Childrens arts workshop between 2-5pm; face painting; yoga; early years music, photography and theatre.

Do skipping with Skip Hop, yoga and shiatsu in the Health Marquee. Participate in the Speakers Corner with Gardners question time, Nutrition Q & A with Glenn Matten, discuss preparing for life without oil with Transition Norwich or ask a question about recycling.

Perhaps you just want to soak up the atmosphere and eat some organic and locally sourced food and drink some carbon neutral beer at the Food & Drink zone sponsored by Adnams.

Stalls include: City Car Club; Cut Your Carbon ; Norwich Friends of the Earth; Energy Saving Trust; Ecotricity; Norfolk Solar; Recycle for Norwich;

Don't forget our GreenStock08 Competition. Five prizes: a First Class Family Return ticket to London; three £50 off vouchers towards a booking of a country cottage in Mundesley and one £50 gift voucher for The Green Grocers. Look on , see the customer feedback and tell us who does Mr B from London feel like he is turning into? (TIP: you'll need to look beyond the front page) If you think you know, email us at . Winners will be announced one week after GreenStock08 on Sunday 30th August.

GreenStock is a not-for-profit event for the local community. Any surplus will be reinvested into the following year's event. NORCA and The Green Grocers would like to thank all those individuals, bands, charities and firms that have made this event possible.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Do we need another supermarket?

We were present at the Norfolk CPRE AGM last week debating whether there was a need for a new supermarket. It's a topic highly charged in parts of Norfolk: there's been a long running campaign in Sheringham to restrict Tesco's ambitions; Tesco have been thwarted in Unthank Road, Norwich and there is concern that Aylsham's independent traders will go the same way as Stalham as, yes, you got it, Tesco opens up.

Tesco's dominance is something to worry about as their financial clout allows them to use legitimate ways to push through planning proposals even when there is opposition from councillors and local people. Local authorities are loathe to pick a fight with Tesco due to the legal costs. Traders, when a new Tesco opens, complain that the supermarket uses predatory pricing - prices designed to deliberately force out a rival - and suppliers have raised concern that they are encouraged to pay for promotions and to accept lower payments. There are also arguments about clone towns, food miles and obesity being linked to supermarkets in general.

So what is to be done? Our argument was that we need to accept some of the benefits of supermarkets: choice, convenience and customer service. In some small market towns, many shops close for half days and on Sundays reducing choice and convenience with many closing at 5pm. Those times were designed for a completely different society when there was no Sunday trading and where traditional gender roles meant that women did most of the shopping when their partners were at work. This simply doesn't happen any more as many households have both adults working making shopping more difficult and requiring more flexibility.

Convenience can also mean parking, disabled access, toilets and so on. Supermarkets provide this. Equally, supermarkets provide good customer service and if enough people demand a product they put it on the shelf.

It looks like I give the impression of being pro Tesco or supermarkets, but it's important to highlight their strengths before we as independent traders and as customers can fight back. The Green Grocers is unusual in having long hours for trading we're open 9-7 Monday to Saturday and 10-4 on Sunday. Originally we were shut on Sunday and Monday, but due to demand we opened on those days and they are now third and fourth busiest days.

Traders need to shout louder about their strengths: we are often cheaper than supermarkets, can offer better service and you will waste less food. Traders need to get the message out, collaborate with other traders and producers - Produced in Norfolk can help here - then get the punters in through the door. Customers need to play their part - keep shopping in local stores, compare prices, quality and service - you will be pleasantly surprised.

Monday, 9 June 2008

What's the point?

Is there any point in going green? Well is there? We think we do enough don't we? hastily haul our green boxes and bins of recycling onto the pavement fortnightly, buy the occasional 'loose' tomato maybe even consider glamping by the sea for our holidays this year. We feel great, but then...despondency can easily sink in. If some of us are making sacrifices but the majority aren't it feels like a losing battle in the attempt to reduce the impact of climate change.

It's the classic free rider problem: what's the point if no-one else is going to bother. It gets worse when you consider the whole world, let alone your neighbours. If we can't get people to re-cycle on our street then how on earth are we going to get China and India to make their sacrifice?

Al Gore discussed this issue in his seminal movie An Inconvenient Truth. He argued that, first, there will be climate change deniers (a summary of their arguments can be seen here.) But when confronted with the overwhelming evidence that climate change is here and happening right now Gore believed that a second shift would occur with many people feeling despondent and apathetic.

It feels that we're beginning to reach this point. We're getting upset with the government about oil prices, food prices and floods and so on, but there's less of the climate change denial and much more anger. And there's a lot to be angry about. As governments fail to show a lead in climate change, the market will do it for them. Insurance claims will rise for those near flood plains, food prices will rise as supply remains static or even falling, peak oil may have been reached. It's hitting our pockets hard.

In many ways the market may quicken the need to change as people looking to save money and resources will look to those that are pioneers in reducing their carbon footprint. It feels that being green is still a minority lifestyle, but saving money and going green will be huge in the next few years and glamping, eating local food, growing your own and electric/hybrid cars will become increasingly common.

This leads us to what we hope will be the third phase: optimism and belief. That solidarity, the harnessing of green technology, the growth of carbon neutral businesses and good governance will steer us through a turbulent time. We're optimistic, are you?

Friday, 30 May 2008

Is Organic and Local food more expensive?

There has been a lot written about saving money on your weekly or monthly shopping basket. Food prices are rising and we’re all noticing.

But did you know that supermarkets don’t hold all the best bargains? A recent article in The Guardian showed that markets and independent shops can be cheaper than supermarkets.

We’ve taken 7 items and compared them to a supermarket shop. All items are cheaper or more or less the same price. Most of the items are available at The Green Grocers, but all are available (and, in some cases for less) at our Farmers' Market and others across the county.

EJ Perowne Free Range Eggs (Norfolk) £1.09
Tesco £1.55(UK)
Sainsburys £1.52(UK)
Waitrose £1.65(UK)

Haughton Hall organic steaks (Norfolk) £13/k
Tesco £12.6/k (Organic UK)
Sainsburys £13.76/k(Organic UK)
Waitrose £13.82/k (Organic UK)

DJ Barnard Organic Chicken Fillet (Norfolk) £12.10/k
Tesco £14.48/k (UK organic)
Sainsburys £17.77/k (UK organic)
Waitrose £18.88/k (UK Organic)

D J Barnard Diced beef (Norfolk)£8.00/k
Tesco £8.39/k (UK)
Sainsburys £8.47/k (UK)
Waitrose £7.98/k (UK)

Ferndale Farm Maris Piper Potatoes (Norfolk) £1.99 for 2k £2.99 for 10k
Tesco £1.99 for 2.5k (UK)
Sainsburys £1.99 for 2.5k (UK)
Waitrose £2.29 for 2.5k (UK)

Norfolk Berry Garden Strawberries (Norfolk) £2.00-2.20 a punnet (400g)
Tesco £1.99/k (origin unknown)
Sainsburys £1.99 (origin unknown)
Waitrose £2.29 (UK)

Dave Morris Salad leaves (Norfolk) £1.40 per 100g
Tesco 94p for 100g (origin unknown)
Sainsburys £1.49 for 125g(origin unknown)
Waitrose £1.79 per 110g (origin unknown)

(prices taken 20th May 2008 from )

There must be other examples of how local and organic food can be competitive - anyone got any other good examples?

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Your special ingredient

We've finally entered the blogosphere - better late than never. We'll be sharing a few thoughts about food, drink and other things.

Great article, today, in the Observer about chef's special ingredients. It was good to see a few classics in there like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's preference for tomato ketchup - it is a good product. Mind you, he went for the organic option unlike Ramsey...

We all have a special ingredient don't we? I think mine is pesto. A good quality pesto on bread, in a sandwich, on white fish, on pasta or even on it's own always makes me happy. I'm a big fan of a raw basil one by Seggiano.

What are your favourites?