Posts From London 1

They say variety is the spice of life. Well, shopping in England in what is in my mind a supermarket, is like the proverbial indecisive child at a birthday party-table eyeing all the goodies from one side to the other.

The diversity of foodstuff is mesmerizing. Take coffee for instance. I’m used to having a choice of two or three brands, simple; but yesterday my mind was overwhelmed by eight, and paralysis began set in. I just stood there wondering how the simple act of buying coffee could become so complex and challenging.

I was also struck by the listed ingredients, painstakingly inscribed on everything you buy, as clear and complete as the recipes in my Mother’s old recipe books. Then, the marvellous creativity in the packaging doing its psychological work on me by transporting me in to a world of art and appreciation. There was a moment, while eyeing all this, that I suddenly forgot why I was there. The thought, that I was perhaps beginning to look a little stupid, quickly brought me back to reality.

Waitrose, Sainsburys, Tesco and even the little Co-op down the road, I salute you and I look forward to much joy and gastronomical pleasure in my future wanderings among your shelves.

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About Don

I love life. Sometimes it makes sense, other times not. Discerning its underlying patterns and beauty always provides great reward and meaning and is a passion I ineptly follow. I feel deeply attached to nature and love the sea with its distinct moods and colour and find walking along its beaches wonderfully inspiring. Writing, sketching and photography is a sheer joy for me and the blog is one of the places I am able to express these pursuits.
This entry was posted in Life, Posts From London, Shopping and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to Posts From London 1

  1. Dan Antion says:

    I’ve written about the frustration of too many brands. It’s interesting to read from the perspective of someone who is enjoying the choice (or perhaps the frustration).

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Dan Gilbert did a great Ted Talk on this very subject several years ago…

    Like

  3. nrhatch says:

    A profusion of choices can be both tantalizing and paralyzing.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Hariod Brawn says:

    Welcome to the oh-so seductive and mesmerising world of cutting-edge corporate marketeering Don, and do try to keep your wallet in your pocket as best you can old chap – we need not encourage the reptilian manipulators. 😉

    Liked by 4 people

  5. RMW says:

    When we moved from England to the US I had the same experience… on top of the overwhelming choices I was astonished at the giant sizes… the smallest can or box of any product was what we would have considered large in England. Now I am used to it and don’t notice it. I try to stay out of supermarkets as much as possible and rarely eat processed food!

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  6. Haha Don, thanks for the visual of you perplexed at choosing a coffee! You’ll get used to it. ❤
    Diana xo

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The little Co-op down the road can be the real gem – less choice maybe but almost always just what you need. We like their South African Chardonnay!
    Happy days. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Val Boyko says:

    Enjoy exploring new options and finding new favorites Don! M&S food is still my favorite for eating in!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Susan Feniak says:

    It must be overwhelming!

    Like

  10. QP and Eye says:

    So interesting Don, when our supermarkets, managed by offshore investors, is furiously taking choice off the shelves. We are going from a great range from which to choose to home-brands.

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    • Don says:

      Interesting. How do you feel about that, Linda?

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      • QP and Eye says:

        Well, Don … the soap box is pretty big but long story short – annoyed. Probably a post there but something I feel quite powerless to do anything about. Another post would be that healthier foodstuffs are sold at a premium; a loaf of wholemeal (which surely requires less processing) is more expensive than the highly processed white loaves with near to zilch nutritional content.

        Liked by 2 people

      • This other Linda doesn’t like it one bit! The supermarkets are bringing out more and more products in their own brands (Coles & Woolworths).
        They are cheaper, yes, but they are gouging the producers – especially food producers in Australia – and paying them a pittance for the produce that would normally go to a recognised brand.
        The recognised brands are having to pay the supermarkets for favourable shelf space, or they get placed high or low – away from eye level. The supermarkets are also carrying less of other brands’ stock and replacing them with their own.
        What I hate is how growers are given little option but to supply at low prices or lose their market. I also hate that more & more foodstuffs that we used to produce here are replaced by imports from Asia & S-E Asia, where health & safety are real problems. Lots of Aussie canneries & other processors have closed down because of that.
        Okay, that’s my rant over & done with – blame Linda at QP and Eye for that! 😉
        I hope you continue to have lots of choices in your shopping, Don. I’m sure you’ll soon get used to it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Don says:

        Yes, I have never been able to understand that kind of price difference. It just makes no sense, Linda.

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      • Don says:

        Linda you certainly have a pretty good grasp of what is going on. Did you work in retail?

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Don. Do I detect the early signs of shopoholicism? I love their dairy, cheese and yoghurt. Low fat of course!!

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  12. Darrel H says:

    This is brilliant! Love it. I remember all those stores and love how you have viewed the simple act of buying coffee. We flew my mom over in 2010 and I loved seeing London (again) through her eyes. Eyes of childlike wonder and renewal. She noted the huge red buses, the flowers, the skyline. the people, the various stores. it was brilliant!

    Like

  13. Interestingly, studies have shown we actually blink less in super markets. There is so much to see and stimulate we stop blinking. So it’s not just you, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Rhonda says:

    I enjoyed this trip to the market with you very much. My experience was the same at first…not with the amount of variety, but different in that it tickled me to ooh and ahh over products I found there only to realize, they are the exact same ones we have, it was just the names and packaging that were different. A line from an old TV Cop show when I was young kept running through my head…”The names have been changed to protect the innocent.” The major difference, as noted by RMW, is the sizes…apparently, we are gluttons here in the US. That, and we have bigger refrigerators. 🙂 Glad you’re enjoying yourself.

    Like

  15. We appreciate multiple choices such as you’re describing, Don, especially coffee brands (we have 14 to choose from in our favorite store). But you’re way ahead to have such excellent, complete listings of all ingredients. Wish we could say the same thing.

    Like

  16. ladyfi says:

    Oh, I remember this feeling so well after living in China for three years! And even going into a British supermarket now can overwhelm me as the ones in Sweden don’t have the vast choices of those in the UK.

    Like

  17. I can go to the grocery store for a box of washing powder and spend hours wandering down the aisles – it’s one of my favorite forms of entertainment. It turns out to be expensive entertainment – since I can’t resist the temptation of buying something on every aisle!! Enjoy!! 🙂

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  18. Don says:

    For you to do that Sheila means there must also be an incredible variety of foodstuff. I can certainly understand the temptation. I couldn’t help thinking of you with the wonderful and liberating news that came out of the USA. So uolifting.

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  19. Mary says:

    Overwhelming even for us in the USA. Going to a grocery store is an adventure these days, the choices are too numerous, take for instance bbq sauce – try 25 to 30 brands and that’s just the beginning. You have to schedule time, not for a quick stop but one that sometimes last a couple of hours. And then where we live, there are 7 major food chain stores all within 2 miles of each other – yup overwhelming.

    Like

    • Don says:

      I can just imagine how overwhelming it must be, Mary, especially in the USA. Twenty five to thirty brands, wow! Hard to imagine.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mary says:

        So guess what, it overwhelms my senses and I end up not buying anything and sticking to the basics, LOL. Marketing 101, don’t overwhelm the customer. I’m happy for your Don, bet you are loving being by your family.

        Like

      • Don says:

        You’re pretty strong then Mary. We are so enjoying being with our children. Thank you.

        Like

  20. amoralegria says:

    Your post reminds me of visiting stores in foreign countries. I went to a supermarket in Costa Rica and was fascinated by the myriad of jars of things I’d never heard of. Not to mention the variety of tropical fruits! In Spain, there was a store with a little of everything, which was called by everyone “The Chinese Bazaar” – it was a Chinese family that ran it, and it did indeed look like a bazaar – I could’ve spent hours in that place! I’d go in there for a specific item and end up half an hour later wondering what it was I had gone in there for! Here in my area we have a supermarket chain called “Shop & Save” – it’s fun to go in there occasionally and look at all the different products they have, many imports from Eastern European countries, especially Poland and Russia. There is a large variety of candy and cookies which you cannot find in other American supermarkets.

    In general, I think we have too many choices in the USA. I am a person who gets easily overwhelmed with a lot of choices, so I like to have a specific product in mind and zero in on that so I don’t have to look at all the others, or stand there doing math in my head to figure out which “unit price” is a better deal.

    Like

    • Don says:

      Your comments are a sheer joy to read. Thank you. You obviously travel a lot. That’s marvellous and I agree with you, too many choices isn’t always a good thing

      Like

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