Why I broke up with the supermarket

supermaret mumIt’s been two months since I split up with the big supermarkets and, you know what? I’m okay. Great, actually.

I still have toilet paper and toothpaste, there’s food in the fridge and cupboards, some of it’s even in packets. It’s taken a while, but I’ve found almost everything I need from other sources. And, although I am yet to really analyse the money side of things, I don’t feel I’m spending more than I used to, as I’ll explain in a moment.

So why ditch the supermarket?

There are three main reasons I decided to stop shopping at supermarkets and they all come back to this quote by author and sustainable food guru Anna Lappe: “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” This is the motivation behind my decision:

  1. I’d prefer to support local businesses than faceless, nameless corporations.
  2. I’m uncomfortable about the fact that two mega companies control more than 80% of the food and grocery market in Australia. Why? Because together, they control how much we pay – and that can be too high, or too low (in the case of the $1 milk scheme that has put numerous Aussie dairies out of business).
  3. Supermarkets are designed to make you overspend, buy unhealthy food and cheap, toxic cosmetics, cleaners etc

Where do you get all your stuff?
Coles and Woolworths only began to dominate the food and grocery market in Australia from 1995 (source). Before then, most people shopped at independent stores and specialists like butchers, bakers and candlestick-makers. Today, of course, you can buy candles in Coles and these independent stores are few and far between. But they’re still there.

In my area, a small peninsula of 50,000 people, we have three Woolies and two Coles, with another on the way. But even in an area so heavily dominated by the Big Two, there are plenty of smaller shops. And of course, there are other ways to buy what you need that doesn’t compromise your ideals (too much).

Here’s a snapshot of where our food and groceries come from:

  • Veggies: Food Connect box, delivered to our organic store.
  • Milk/yoghurt/butter: delivered by Food Connect  Aussie Farmers Direct or from locally-owned IGA that stocks local milk (Cooloola)
  • Meat: awesome local butcher and Mitchell Grass Meats
  • Grains & nuts: organic store or in bulk from Go Vita, muesli from Aussie Farmers Direct
  • Juice: Aussie Farmers Direct
  • Spices, tea, beans/pulses: Sunday market stall
  • Cheese: the Cheese Man at Sunday markets and 1kg blocks of Kenilworth cheddar from an independent supermarket
  • Cleaning supplies: organic store or Go Vita
  • Personal care products: chemist, market, organic store or Go Vita
  • Night-time plastic nappies, wipes: Go Toddler (online store)
  • Toilet paper: Who Gives a Crap
  • Oils: Olive oil in 5kg containers from our Sunday market (olives from SEQ and Northern NSW) coconut oil from the health-food shop, peanut oil from Kingaroy [updated]
  • Asian essentials (soy sauce, sesame oil, black-bean etc): Asian supermarket

What have I missed? Put it in the comments and I’ll tell you where I get it!

Written like this, it looks like I spend all my days schlepping around, gathering. This is absolutely not the case. With a freezer full of meat and vegetables delivered weekly, I only need to go to one of these sources per week depending on what I need. The point I’m trying to make is that there are alternatives to the big supermarkets.

The benefits of shopping locally and more widely
When I talk to people about how I shop, they focus on what I’m missing out on: the convenience, the cheap own-brands, the variety, the specials! Here’s what else I’m missing out on: the shopping centre, those parent-hating “rides” that swallow $2 coins and cause massive tantrums, the carpark jammed with angry people, the absolute tedium and monotony of traipsing up and down aisles with two kids and a trolley.

My kids come with me when we visit the “vegetable shop” or the “peanut butter shop”. We visit Go Vita on the bike, or stop at the bakery or butcher on the way home from day care. We talk to the proprietors, the kids are often involved in what we buy – choosing it, carrying it, paying for it. It’s a better experience in every way.

Isn’t this a really expensive way to shop?
In my experience, no. Why? Because I have a small list, and I tend to stick to it when I go to smaller shops. The minute I get into a supermarket, my defences are down and I become a mindless a consumer, lulled by all those marketing trickeries. While it’s true the acutal pricetags on certain items are higher, I simply don’t spend money on stuff I don’t need. DVDs, clothes, magazines, cheap snacks – they practically leap into your trolley at the supermarket. This is far less likely to happen in an independent shop.

Final words (I promise)
I went cold-turkey and can honestly say that I will happily never shop at a non-independent supermarket again. But I’m not suggesting  anyone boycott the supermarkets, and I get that they are very convenient and that we’re all crazy busy, but I do ask that you think about where you’re spending your money and what kind of a world you want for your children – one where you can ask your butcher for a recipe, or one where you can read it on the back of the packet?

Thanks for reading this post. If you’re inspired to break up with the supermarkets, click here to read the follow-up, “How to break up with the supermarket.”

UPDATE: It has now been four months since I wrote this post and I am completely gobsmacked by the response. I had no idea so many people felt trapped on the hamster-wheel of supermarket shopping and have been thrilled to hear your tales of going supermarket-free. I no longer source my oil and fish from Aldi and now keep it strictly local. I can honestly say I do not miss the perceived convenience of the big supermarkets and can’t imagine I will ever go back to them. 



103 Responses to Why I broke up with the supermarket
  1. Bronwyn Bennett
    September 9, 2013 | 12:18 pm

    Fabulous article, nice to know there are like minded people in this world.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. Kirsten McCulloch
    September 9, 2013 | 3:00 pm

    This is a great post. Thanks for the link to Who Gives a Crap, I am about to go order some of their toilet paper!

    I have not broken up with the major supermarkets I’m afraid (I know, you said you’re not suggesting that, but still…), but I do frequent a butcher, the markets and a health food store quite frequently. It is true, that every dollar spent it is a vote, so I also try to buy more ethical options even at the supermarket, though I’m by no means perfect at it.
    Kirsten McCulloch recently posted..What Do Laundry and Coffee Have in Common?My Profile

  3. narelle
    September 9, 2013 | 6:16 pm

    For all your grocery supplies, organic as well, delivered to your door and so much cheaper than any health store I have found….. You order bi-monthly


    supporting a local (Brisbane family) business.
    Got to love that!

    and just while I am dropping names…..

    For all “women’s needs” another local (Brisbane) stay at home mum helping us be greener….


    So many wonderful stay at home mums, creating a business, to make living in a cleaner, greener, healthier environment easy…..
    narelle recently posted..Raspberry JamMy Profile

    • (dt)em
      September 9, 2013 | 6:39 pm

      Thanks Narelle! I’m thinking of trying Green Caravan this month, just got to find the funds…

  4. Sonia @ Natural New Age Mum
    September 9, 2013 | 8:23 pm

    I am moving more and more away from the supermarket too. Local organic delivery and co-op buying is so much nicer.
    Sonia @ Natural New Age Mum recently posted..Supercharged Pizza (plus a giveaway!)My Profile

  5. Nicola
    September 9, 2013 | 10:09 pm

    Love it! You have inspired me, I have been wanting to ditch the big supermarkets for a while now… it’s not a fun or ethical way to shop. Plus it’s super expensive.
    Nicola recently posted..10 ways to keep your child healthy – and a giveaway!My Profile

  6. Emily
    September 9, 2013 | 11:16 pm

    Narelle: I just looked up GreenCaravan. They look awesome. Dies anyone know of a group doing a similar thing in Melbourne?

  7. Deb @ Home life simplified
    September 10, 2013 | 7:55 am

    Great resource. I am still shopping at the big 2, but do buy meat at my local butchers, go to health stores and the farmers market. I have never been an online shopper but am looking at that – I was going to do it with one of the big 2 but now that i have these resources (including in the comments) i will check them out first and see what I can come up with. thanks
    Deb @ Home life simplified recently posted..Turning a cornerMy Profile

  8. Rachel @ The Kids Are All Right
    September 10, 2013 | 10:07 am

    Thanks to Sonia from natural new age mum for pointing me this way! I also rarely visit the big two supermarkets, although I do shop at Aldi every week. My f&v come from local grocers, and I get meat delivered through Feather & Bone (Sydney delivery only). We have fantastic markets around here which I enjoy buying bread and F&V at when I get there. I love my local community and love making connections with local store owners :)
    Rachel @ The Kids Are All Right recently posted..Safe driving course – what to expectMy Profile

  9. Jane
    September 10, 2013 | 11:35 am

    Yes, I totally agree with you! I’ve been going down this road for a while now – it started as a gradual transition but I find I much prefer shopping this way and don’t get trolley rage anymore!!! I did try and do a price comparison once and as you say, not much in it, providing you buy fruit and veg in season and not digress too much from your shopping list!
    Jane recently posted..Interview: Louise Hall and her Upcycled JewelleryMy Profile

    • (dt)em
      September 14, 2013 | 8:48 pm

      I do not miss trolley rage – my three-year-old insists on getting into the trolley, then wants to get out, then in, then out. AAAARGH!

  10. Simon @ Who Gives A Crap
    September 10, 2013 | 2:17 pm

    Everyone at Who Gives A Crap loved this post, so we created a coupon to help people break up with the supermarket!

    If you enter “DownToEarth” at check out you’ll receive 20% off the first month of your feel good toilet paper subscription! It will only work until midnight Friday, so get in quick :).

  11. Miranda
    September 10, 2013 | 2:39 pm

    Great Post. I agree the supermarkets are getting so big it’s scary. I buy most of my groceries and health foods from Aussie Health Products.


    My fresh produce I get from the markets, and I only buy a couple of things like toilet paper, and a little bit of organic dairy and meats from the supermarkets now. I try to go to the IGA whenever possible for these.

  12. bernadette eden
    September 10, 2013 | 3:39 pm

    Love this post, it says everything that is lurking in the back of my mind. I immediately become stressed when I supermarket shop and am always snapping at the kids. I am slowly moving to buying more local things and having a ‘quick trip’ to the supermarket rather than a huge shop which seems to take up a lot of our day. Would love to one day be supermarket-free!
    bernadette eden recently posted..Can You Can Trust Your Purchases 100%My Profile

    • (dt)em
      September 14, 2013 | 8:47 pm

      You can do it, Bernie!

  13. Rachel
    September 10, 2013 | 4:02 pm

    I love this post! I feel the same about the giant supermarket duo and we shop a lot at IGA as well as health food stores, markets, etc. Thank you for this inspiration!
    Rachel recently posted..New Videos: More Kids? Homeschooling?My Profile

  14. Sue Foster
    September 10, 2013 | 4:04 pm

    would love to hear more I hate supermarkets to

  15. Tricia
    September 10, 2013 | 5:48 pm

    Yay for you Jo!

    We skipped supermarkets (and shopping malls and super centers last year) and it was one of the best things we’ve ever done. We found community, changed the way we cooked, and saved money. I now visit a local independent supermarket every now and then – but only for a handful of things. I much prefer the alternatives :-)

    And following on from your comment on my post about finding joy in less – we do similar for Christmas presents – one from us and one from santa.
    Tricia recently posted..Finding joy in having lessMy Profile

    • (dt)em
      September 14, 2013 | 8:46 pm

      Tricia, it was probably you who planted the seed in my mind! so thank you!! xx

  16. katepickle
    September 10, 2013 | 5:54 pm

    Great post!
    I’d rather avoid the big two supermarkets if I can, and it isn’t that hard, even for those of us in rural areas.

    I don’t have as many shopping options as you (unless I want to drive for an hour or more to get to them) but I can still choose our local IGA over the others and farmers markets. I also shop at Aldi which I know is still a big chain company and not Australian owned, but I hope it is at least contributing to competition and breaking the duopoly.
    katepickle recently posted..Five Currant Buns Free Printable PuppetsMy Profile

    • (dt)em
      September 14, 2013 | 8:46 pm

      It’s a bit ironic that many rural areas were the first to lose local food-buying options, don’t you think? IGAs are a good option, there are also bulk-food buying opportunities, which at least provide all your whole foods. As for Aldi, they are the lesser of the evils! As I said, there are still some things I buy from Aldi. We’ve all gotta just do what we can with what we’ve got.

  17. Chelsea
    September 10, 2013 | 6:47 pm

    You inspire me! I need posts like this to get me out of the habit. At least we usually walk to the grocery store though, right? :-)
    Chelsea recently posted..Free Ebook: Games for PreschoolersMy Profile

    • (dt)em
      September 14, 2013 | 8:42 pm

      Start where you are, do what you can :)

  18. Brenda Janschek
    September 10, 2013 | 7:19 pm

    I ditched supermarkets long ago. Great post!

  19. Danya Banya
    September 10, 2013 | 7:26 pm

    We boycott Woolies because of their poker machine stance and only buy toilet paper, cleaning stuff etc from Coles and get all our other stuff from green grocers or butchers or whatever. Yes we shop several times a week, but its fresher that way…
    Danya Banya recently posted..Orange Faces!My Profile

    • (dt)em
      September 14, 2013 | 8:42 pm

      Of course, Danya, there’s that whole side of things. The companies that own our big two supermarkets are HUGE and have all kinds of other interests. I suspect that “serving the greater good” is not high on their mission statements…

  20. Kirily
    September 10, 2013 | 8:38 pm

    Don’t forget to support your local indi bakery! If they don’t have what you are after, ask. Most bakers are strange and passionate creatures who would love to help you with whatever you need.

    (Yes, I’m married to one of these strange creatures…)
    Kirily recently posted..All for a good cause.My Profile

  21. Jackie@My Little Bookcase
    September 10, 2013 | 10:05 pm

    I love this post. Breaking up with the supermarket appeals to me. I manage to get to the grocer, butcher and fishmonger but then I’m exhausted.

    I’d love a follow up post on how you logistically manage your shopping. i.e. a week by week run-down.
    Jackie@My Little Bookcase recently posted..Print Explorers: Developing pre-reading skills and Concepts of PrintMy Profile

    • (dt)em
      September 14, 2013 | 8:40 pm

      Will do a follow up just for you, Jackie! x

  22. Mother Down Under
    September 11, 2013 | 12:18 pm

    Great post!
    I find myself buying less and less from Woolies.
    We get fruit and veg delivered from Home Fresh Organics and I am lucky that my local shops still have a fruit shop, a butcher and an independent bakery.
    I go to Aldi for most household basics.
    And then the health food store rounds out the rest of my shopping!
    I used to go to the markets weekly and I would love to get back in the habit of going again.

    • (dt)em
      September 14, 2013 | 8:39 pm

      Good on you luv! It looks like a lot written as a list, but don’t you agree that it’s no more arduous shopping this way than in a supermarket?

  23. Abbie
    September 13, 2013 | 1:10 pm

    Great post, I did this “goodbye to supermarkets” a while ago. I find that I probably make the same number of trips now to all the different places as I did before to the supermarkets, but it’s less stressful, more personable, more friendly, and more enjoyable. The shop owners/assistants I see know my name, greet my kids, are helpful, chatty, pleasant, and there is no stress or overstimulation for the kids that you get in a Supermarket.

    To manage the different shopping options, I worked out who sold what I bought (as with all shops, some are cheaper on this, others are cheaper on that, some stock this, some stock that) and so who was best for what. Now, when I need meat, I get my fruit and veg (as much as the butcher has – Cherry Tree organics in Beaconsfield has organic meat and f&v) that they have there, then go home via the closest cheapest organic fruit and veg place. Otherwise, i stock up when in a certain area near an organic shop – if it’s a non-perishable that say, Kallista biodynamic, has cheaper, then I stock up when there, and get my usual bits and pieces from there if that’s where I am in the day. If I make the special trip to the butchers, then I buy enough meat for the month and freeze it, as well as whatever relevant fruit and veg they have there). I do buy some bits and pieces online (going green solutions allow me to buy bulk boxes of recycled paper tissues – not perfect but guests don’t usually bring their own hankies and tend to baulk when you offer them one ;) ) and I’m about to order from who gives a crap to avoid the supermarkets on that one too.

    Once you know who sells what, and where they are, it takes a bit of thinking to start with, but after a while, it’s no more trips than you took to the supermarket, and without all the extra “specials” you do spend less, despite paying more for your goods etc.

    • (dt)em
      September 14, 2013 | 8:38 pm

      Fantastic tips, Abbie, thanks for contributing. I’ll be sharing your comment in a follow-up post x

  24. Rachelle
    September 13, 2013 | 1:47 pm

    You have to admit, when things are on special at the Big 2, it is considerably cheaper than going to independent shops. I almost never pay full price for anything. When something is on sale, especially 50% off, I just stock up on it. So basically, what I eat and use depends on what’s on sale. I don’t know how anyone would want to pay full price on something that regularly goes on sale. I guess it would be harder if you had kids who had specific needs and whatnot. But markets are great for fruit and veggies though

    • (dt)em
      September 14, 2013 | 8:37 pm

      Hi Rachelle, it’s true things are cheaper when on special, and if you can be self-disciplined enough to only buy what you need and not get sucked into overspending, then you’re a champion! In my experience, it is mostly processed foods that are on special and nothing that I really need (as opposed to want). I am hopeless when it comes to staying strong against marketing tactics like “loss leaders” (those heavily discounted items); I always overspend at the supermarket, which is one reason I quit it. Thanks for joining the conversation!

  25. Simon @ Who Gives A Crap
    September 14, 2013 | 3:39 pm

    We’ve just extended the Who Gives A Crap subscription discount to help you break up with supermarkets.

    Enter “DownToEarth” at check out you’ll receive 20% off the first month of your feel good toilet paper subscription! Now valid until midnight September 21!

  26. Lin
    September 14, 2013 | 5:07 pm

    I buy very little from the supermarkets – and I used to work for one! Loo paper was one of those things – but have just placed an order with Who Gives A Crap, thanks for the discount Simon. Now, I just need a supplier for grain free dog food and I can just about give the supermarkets the divorce papers :)

    • (dt)em
      September 14, 2013 | 8:33 pm

      Lin have you heard of BARF? We get it from our local pet store, I’m pretty sure it’s grain free. Here’s a link: http://www.barfaustralia.com/

  27. Jolene @ Yummy Inspirations
    September 14, 2013 | 7:54 pm

    Love this! We do weekly Farmers Market Shops with the kids and I visit a couple of local health food shops a couple of times a week, just takes a tiny bit of effort to look into local options, but it’s SO worth it!
    Jolene @ Yummy Inspirations recently posted..Pumpkin French Toast Recipe & Muffin Tin MealMy Profile

  28. Liz @ I Spy Plum Pie
    September 16, 2013 | 10:34 am

    Great article! I get my fruit & veggies delivered from a local, organic supplier and then try and buy everything else from health food shops, the Turkish grocer or other independent stores. It’s definitely do-able, it just takes a bit more thinking ahead to begin with!
    Liz @ I Spy Plum Pie recently posted..Recipe: Orange and Hazelnut SaladMy Profile

  29. Colin Krycer
    September 16, 2013 | 11:01 am

    I tried the “Who gives a crap” paper. Never again. It’s awful paper. Sorbent is the only one I buy now. I tried it but it’s very weak paper.

    • (dt)em
      September 16, 2013 | 12:41 pm

      Sorry to hear that Colin. For what it does, I think WGAC does a pretty good job, butt each to their own :)

  30. Bronnie
    September 16, 2013 | 11:45 am

    Great post, very inspirational. We buy from farmer’s markets wherever possible, and have discovered our local IGA, which has good prices. I’ll check out the other places you mention here too. It’s definitely nice buying direct from the proprieter/producer, and getting the kids involved too.
    Bronnie recently posted..Our 15 minutes of fame!My Profile

  31. Millie
    September 16, 2013 | 3:54 pm

    I think what you are doing is great. I went organic for 6 months but it got too expensive for a family of 5. I try to bake most of my own bread now but I have always got a $2 wholemeal loaf in the freezer from Coles for “just in case”. I never have the problem of over spending as I don’t seem to get affected by advertising. My kids don’t misbehave, apart from laughing too loud, in the supermarket but I do see a lot of parents who have trouble saying “no” when the kids beg for sweets but in my house no means no and I will not hear them ask again!! (- but if someone has a great tip on how to get an 11 year old to stop talking back to you I’m all ears)
    Your article inspired me, I think I will try to do my weekly shopping from local businesses from now on, we have the best little green grocer, baker, butcher and grocer all in one little street.

  32. Lin
    September 18, 2013 | 10:48 am

    Thanks (dt)em – will check them out.

  33. Donna Watson
    September 18, 2013 | 6:25 pm

    No one has mentioned Aussie Farmers Direct, that I can see… Bread, milk, fruit and veg, meat and seafood, bakery items and an ever growing list of locally produced (where possible) and all Australian fresh produce, home delivered to your door for no more than you would pay at the Supermarkets over-all. So convenient and you know you are supporting Aussie Farmers. Milkman delivers before 7 am twice weekly and veggies arrive in the late afternoon weekly. Order and pay on-line. Look them up and give them a try. Unfortunately, they are not in all areas yet but there are other companies doing veggie boxes etc too.

    • (dt)em
      September 19, 2013 | 12:32 pm

      Yes! I have used Aussie Farmers Direct and they certainly do the job. I had a couple of reservations about the service: the produce wasn’t local in the organics box (but I understand that this might be unavoidable). And there was no system to reuse the boxes. BUT these are small issues that will surely be ironed out and AFD is a good solution for anyone looking to break up with the supermarkets.

  34. kim
    September 19, 2013 | 11:15 am

    So pleased to see more people doing this. I have stopped going to the major supermarkets for a while now, just using a co-op,growing our food on the farm and cooking. Last week I had to go there for the first time in I don’t know how long- the first thing I felt was just how confronting the advertising is and what a completely unnatural solution to buying food for our families these supermarkets give us .They also sneakily use little advertising options to make them look ‘home made ‘ /’natural’/’organic’.
    You really need to get away from them for a while and then walk back in and see them for real with the veneer peeled away!
    kim recently posted..All About Milking Goats- A Post With Farmer Liz!My Profile

  35. erin @ she cooks, she gardens
    September 19, 2013 | 3:38 pm

    Some great advice here and links to some great stores that I wasn’t aware of. While I haven’t completely ‘broken up’ with the supermarket I have definitely reduced the amount of shopping I do there and we only shop at Foodland (an independently owned company in South Australia).

    I really love the quote too.
    erin @ she cooks, she gardens recently posted..Kale PestoMy Profile

  36. Grant NOWELL
    September 19, 2013 | 9:59 pm

    I enjoyed your yarn, I also avoid Coles and Woolworths like the plague. I go out of my way to buy local, buy food that s produced close to Adelaide and I enjoy the relationships that develop with local business owners. When I need to visit a supermarket, I’m happy to go to the local independent Foodland.

  37. Linda
    September 20, 2013 | 6:50 pm

    I gave up Coles and Safeway (as it was called then) about 5 years ago, because they were depressing me. We only shop at Leo’s, Aldi, various local IGAs and organic shops, Queen Victoria Market and farmers’ markets. Shopping is now FUN! There are loads of fantastic products from smaller suppliers that just aren’t available in the Big Two. The people who work in the shops and markets are friendly. We’re supporting local suppliers who make lots of interesting products. I live walking distance from two Coles supermarkets and I avoid them like the plague!

    • (dt)em
      October 1, 2013 | 10:58 am

      I Love Queen Victoria Market, although I would spend every last cent we had if I were allowed to shop there regularly!

  38. Jen
    September 21, 2013 | 7:47 pm

    I too avoid the Big Two supermarkets like the plague and even their offshoots where possible. I shop at Foodland – SA based – and from other local butchers, seafood places and occasionally the farmer’s market. When I do shop in the Big Two there’s really not that much choice anyway or they try and make you buy more than you really need.
    Jen recently posted..What an interesting 16th birthdayMy Profile

  39. Jennifer Avventura
    September 23, 2013 | 7:47 pm

    Great post! I live in a small town in the mountains of Sardinia. The supermarkets are fierce with their pricing but every Monday there is a local farmer’s market where I buy all of our fruits and veg.
    Jennifer Avventura recently posted..Weekly Photo Challenge: From Lines to PatternsMy Profile

    • (dt)em
      October 1, 2013 | 10:50 am

      I want your life!!

  40. Emma-Kate
    September 24, 2013 | 8:48 pm

    This is a wonderful post. So practical and despite being embarrassing late to read it, have shared it widely on our facebook page as the practical tips are so excellent! If any of your readers are interested in knowing exactly where their money goes, then they might like to check out this event coming up in October. “Delicious Development: How Local Food Creates Community Prosperity” – you can book here: http://michaelshuman.eventbrite.com.au/

    Thanks for your support!

    • (dt)em
      October 1, 2013 | 10:39 am

      Thanks so much for sharing Emma-Kate, HEAPS more people saw this post thanks to your efforts!

  41. Cynthia
    September 24, 2013 | 9:02 pm

    Great article. I too have broken up with the major supermarkets. When I shop for cleaning and personal products I use saveonbrands.com.au and for other fresh food grocery items I use Aussiefarmersdirect.com.au who deliver fresh direct from the farmers.

  42. Pavel
    September 24, 2013 | 10:24 pm

    If you were a bit further south, Organic Farm Share would be a great option too – http://www.organicfarmshare.com/
    Pavel recently posted..Traditional ArcheryMy Profile

    • (dt)em
      October 1, 2013 | 10:36 am

      thanks for the link, this is a great initiative.

  43. Allan
    September 24, 2013 | 10:28 pm

    ALDI????? ALDI?????? I thought your article was about how you are NOT shopping with the big supermarkets. You go on about Coles and Woolworths and how nasty they are etc etc yet admit to going on a “special trip” to ALDI (the world’s biggest supermarket chain) to buy cheap olive oil.

    Can you not find a local olive oil? I live in the Riverina and we are blessed to have fine local oil producers. Yes a bottle costs three times as much as what it does at Aldi, but it travels less miles, is much fresher, and more flavoursome, dependent upon oil type.

    Give yourself an uppercut for being so hypocritical!

    • (dt)em
      October 1, 2013 | 10:25 am

      Alan, I have been waiting for someone to pull me up on this. You’re dead right – I should not be buying cheap olive oil from Aldi (or fish for that matter), but I am yet to find a source that I can afford. I’m not expecting to pay $20 for 3L like I do at Aldi, but something that comes close. I’d happily buy it in 10L drums.
      I have given myself a wee uppercut, but in my defence I am in the process of divorcing the supermarkets all together and Aldi does at least make an effort to be the environmental choice. Some effort – I’m not saying Aldi is a “green” supermarket.
      If anyone out there knows where I can bulk buy olive oil for $8-10L, preferably near SEQ, please let me know and help me vanquish supermarkets forever.

    • (dt)em
      October 1, 2013 | 10:26 am

      Sorry, I forgot to say, the olive oil I buy at Aldi is quite good quality – it’s green and fragrant and grown in Oz. Still looking for an alternative though.

  44. Rara
    September 24, 2013 | 10:50 pm

    Great article. And the reason I am so passionate about Farmers’ Markets. Everyone, please support your local farmers, growers and producers. Get fresh seasonal food and regional delicacies.

    It makes sense for all of us. Supporting community, supporting family run and sole traders.

    Farmers’ are doing it tough… Let’s show our support and eat fresher, more healthy produce while we’re at it.

    • (dt)em
      October 1, 2013 | 10:19 am

      Here here! Everyone wins with a decentralised food system.

  45. Simon @ Who Gives A Crap
    September 24, 2013 | 11:22 pm

    We can’t believe how crazy this post has gone! We’ve just extended the Who Gives A Crap subscription discount to help you break up with supermarkets one last time.

    Enter “DownToEarth” at check out you’ll receive 20% off the first month of your feel good toilet paper subscription! Valid until midnight September 29!

    • (dt)em
      October 1, 2013 | 10:18 am

      Just want to say a big thanks to Who Gives a Crap for helping with the Great Supermarket Breakup, and to you, lovely readers who have supported this social enterprise (not mine, WGAC, but mine too :))

  46. Kathie
    September 25, 2013 | 8:38 am

    Yes this is great for all you girls…..but we live in rural Victoria….we do have woolies, coles and aldi AND an IGA….we shop between all 4….my butcher shut up shop :( now can you help me out with where I can get some of the stuff your talking about without a huge delivery cost??? Many thanks

    • (dt)em
      October 1, 2013 | 10:14 am

      Hey Kathie, it sounds to me like a bulk buy or co-op would be the best option for you. I have post coming up on alternate places to shop and I will be thinking of you as I do my research! In the meantime, google “bulk buy wholefoods” and your location. Failing that, you’ll need to tap into your local hippy fringe (I’m sure they out there somewhere) and find out about co-ops. Does Aussie Farmers Direct deliver to you? They can take care of milk, cheese, fruit and veg. Hope some of this helps.

  47. World Consious | lookupnsmile
    September 26, 2013 | 10:14 am

    […] And then I read this, and its inspired me to go further; Why I broke up with the supermarket […]

  48. Alice Cordwell
    October 1, 2013 | 11:45 pm

    Thanks, it was a reminder that I needed.

  49. Bree
    October 7, 2013 | 1:52 pm

    I live in regional WA, where we only have coles and woolies.. and its horrible! I’d love someone to deliver fresh produce that is actually FRESH.. or better yet pass through town even monthly so at least one wk p/month we cld eat real fresh food.. but alas our far northern and very hot desert climate leaves us without the great options all city and closer regional dwellers have available to them.

    • (dt)em
      October 8, 2013 | 9:51 am

      Wow, Bree, I don’t know what to suggest! I think you’d have to be a super-gardener to grow your own in that climate :(

  50. […] one is bombarded with advertisements and marketing strategies that have made some even “break up” with their supermarkets and attempt to only buy from local and independent stores. You could […]

  51. Supermarket rewards programs are a scam
    October 14, 2013 | 10:53 am

    […] I broke up with the supermarket, I have been inspired and interested to hear and read about other people’s efforts to shop […]

  52. Turning YUK into Motivation | nella inspired
    October 22, 2013 | 12:05 pm

    […] when I came across a little blog called “Down to Earth Mother” and a little post about breaking up with the supermarket I began to form an idea. Could I too break up with the supermarket? Oh for so long have I had all […]

  53. Monica
    November 17, 2013 | 8:45 am

    I don’t think we could avoid the big 2 altogether but i know we could shop there a lot less. I could happily break up with Coles & Woolies (even though I am employed by Woolworths Ltd, i hate them but i am not in a position to leave right now) my problem is my husband & i have very different views & he is very set in his ways & won’t even entertain the thought of giving up the brands he knows & loves. I buy all our meat & veg from the butcher & green grocer or markets & most personal care products from the health food store but we would still do about 60% of our shopping at the big 2. I may be able to c onvince him to try IGA but it’s not that much of an improvement. Any advice would be appreciated.

    • (dt)em
      November 17, 2013 | 12:05 pm

      Hey Monica, my husband thinks I am deranged for my little protest, and when he needs food for lunches etc, he goes to Woolies. I’ve read the corporate responsibility report for both Coles and Woolies and can say that Woolworths has a better profile and is more committed to operating sustainably. As for brands of food, many of the most popular are still available through small independent shops, although they usually cost a bit more. Do you buy lots of packaged foods? Is it an option to try making your own versions? Another option is stealth – no-one likes big changes, they’re always stressful or painful in some way. Over time you could slowly incorporate alternate versions of the foods he loves and in time you’ll have weaned from the big two. Hope this is helpful, if anyone else has any tips, jump on in!

  54. Monica
    November 19, 2013 | 4:40 pm

    Thanks for responding! He eats a fair bit of packaged foods like cereal & 2L flavoured milks & soft drinks & sakata rice crackers. Most of the food for my 13 month old daughter & i are fresh & made from scratch. I have started baking my own bread but he still prefers his bread rolls to come from the supermarket bakery. We’ve always done the grocery shopping together so it will be hard to change our shopping habits without him noticing but i’ll try to sneak more stuff in :)

    • (dt)em
      November 20, 2013 | 9:01 pm

      Jealous that you shop together! We used to do that, but since number two came along, it’s all gone out the window. Maybe the best tactic with him is to talk about the environmental and social impacts of shopping at the big supermarkets and slowly, slowly suggest alternatives. He might realise before long that he’s happy to have those foods sometimes rather than all the time. Certainly with my hubby suggesting bacon and eggs instead of cereal was a winner!

  55. Corrine
    January 4, 2014 | 3:46 pm

    My husband and I broke up with the big duopoly months ago but occasionally visit for some items. I just found ur blog mentioned in green lifestyle magazine. U have inspired me to truly divorce from these supermarkets… I really don’t enjoy walking thru their doors at all. We use Aussie farmers direct and find their products fantastic. Thanks Monica !!

    • (dt)em
      January 6, 2014 | 9:50 am

      Thanks Corrine for letting me know where you saw the blog, I love Green Lifestyle mag. Good on you for ditching the big supermarkets. After only a few months I am able to source just about everything I need from local suppliers and it feels great. I had to go to Woolworths to pick up an order for a community group and just being in there made my skin crawl. It’s such a disconnected way to shop. x

  56. Corrine
    January 27, 2014 | 6:31 pm

    Yes makes my skin prickle too…. We do go very occasionally for things I can’t get elsewhere or that cost a bomb elsewhere! For example, taco powder mix, australian olive oil in a big can, loo paper, washing detergent, frozen berries, mop refills, scourers. Any suggestions how to avoid these without paying thru the roof would be great! Good job to u!!!

  57. Sharon
    February 9, 2014 | 3:59 pm

    Great post – I’ve shared on FB. We are most of the way there already with food but you have inspired us to make a conscious effort to push on, especially with non-food items. It is terrific that so many people have enjoyed your blog.

    • (dt)em
      February 14, 2014 | 3:07 pm

      thanks so much for sharing!

  58. […] realise not everyone is up for cloth nappies and breaking up with the supermarkets, but if I could ask everyone to make just one little change, this would be it: ditch the plastic […]

  59. […] Guacamole. I had NO idea when I wrote about why I broke up with the supermarket that it would have the kind of response it has […]

  60. […] I first wrote about breaking up with the supermarkets, I’ve spoken to a lot of people who want to do the same, […]

  61. Fiona
    March 25, 2014 | 12:56 pm

    Just come accros your site and love it! Especially this article. Will be following you for sure. Just ordered my toilet rolls. So excited!

    • (dt)em
      April 3, 2014 | 8:58 pm

      Thanks Fiona! I do hope you enjoy WGAC – I still get ridiculously excited when my delivery arrives. It’s due tomorrow, hoorah!

  62. […] to Earth Mother: Why I Broke up with The Supermarket and How to Break up with the […]

  63. […] It’s been a whole year since I stopped shopping at the Big Two supermarkets. Can you believe it? Me neither. In the past 12 months Coles and Woolies have done absolutely nothing to lure me back in. In fact, they have carried on behaving just as badly, confirming the reasons I broke up with them in the first place. […]

  64. Linda
    July 24, 2014 | 2:31 pm

    Hi. I am interested to know where you buy baking ingredients from, vanilla extract, flour, sugars etc. thanks in advance!
    Ps I ordered toilet paper today.

    • (dt)em
      September 14, 2014 | 7:14 pm

      Hi Linda, Yay for Who Gives a Crap, I hope you really love the service! I get aluminium-free baking powder from my health-food store, you can also order it from Honest to Goodness or Bulk Wholefoods. There’s also Basic Ingredient (http://basicingredients.com.au/), where you can get all kinds of flours and baking stuff. My vanilla, quite randomly, comes direct from Vanuatu as my mum lives there!

  65. […] those of you who are kinda keen on the whole breaking up with the supermarket thing but can’t imagine life beyond Woollies and Coles, why not try it out for just a […]

  66. Top posts for 2013 - Down to Earth Mother
    November 10, 2014 | 7:30 pm

    […] was really surprised when the post Why I broke up with the supermarket went completely crazy. I happened to be at the ProBlogger conference and the whole mind-blowing […]

  67. Ros Wathen
    December 7, 2014 | 8:06 am

    So happy to say that since completing our range of 100% natural handmade cleaning products, Jonno and I are able to skip the ‘stinky’ aisle in the supermarket completely. Our products are handmade in small batches by ourselves in our laundry and are based on just four oils – olive, castor, rice bran and coconut. We don’t use anything ‘nature derived’, we make from scratch. Our products clean beautifully, and are proud to disclose all our ingredients. A blatant plug, I know, but I hope it’s appropriate for this discussion.

    • (dt)em
      December 8, 2014 | 8:00 pm

      happy to share, best of luck with the new range!

  68. Katie
    December 20, 2014 | 9:13 pm

    It’s wonderful to read a piece like this – it makes me feel more positive about my rather slow sideways sidle away from supermarkets. In the suburb where I live, we are lucky to have an incredible bunch of local shops – two greengrocers, multiple bakeries, a great butcher, just to name a few – as well as a little IGA that stocks the sort of products you won’t find at the supermarket (Murray Breweries Cordial, all the way from Beechworth!). Even better, I can walk to the local shops and if I happen to be tempted into one of the op shops while I’m there, well that’s good for the community, too. In short, breaking up with the big two supermarkets can be a delightful experience!

    Thanks for writing this and for inspiring me to make some more advances in my slow break-up with supermarkets.
    Katie recently posted..The Handmade Present DilemmaMy Profile

  69. Choosing the best eco laundry detergent
    January 29, 2015 | 2:22 pm

    […] don’t know about you but I get seriously bamboozled by choice. Before I gave up supermarkets, there were two departments that completely paralysed me: the milk fridge and the laundry aisle. […]

  70. Sarah
    February 4, 2015 | 5:12 pm

    Inspiring Jo! I so love this blog :) xx

  71. Lauren
    March 21, 2015 | 7:05 pm

    Loved this post! I’ve been working towards breaking up with my local Woolies for awhile now, but often fall back into the trap of convenience. The quote by Anna Lappe and you’re three reasons in the article really made me pause to think about what was important to me. Thank you!

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