News and views from north Bristol's urban village

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Co-op, Somerfield and the Future of Food in Westbury

If, as the Evening Post has confirmed, the Co-op is attempting to buy the Somerfield chain, the future for food shopping in Westbury on Trym looks, well, interesting to say the least.

When the new Somerfield convenience store opened on Falcondale Road earlier this year, I asked the duty manager whether the old Somerfield in the village could survive. She gave me one of those scripted answers that we all know have come from head office when asked an awkward question - which confirmed my view that the Canford Road Somerfield was under threat.

Now, with the Co-op interested in taking over Somerfield, things look even more complex. Co-op have, of course, a successful store on Stoke Lane. Will they really want two others within a mile of that one?

Beyond these economic and business issues, however, is the more fundamental question: how will we continue to feed ourselves if our strategy for doing so is so dependent on oil? From the use of intensive farming methods to the transportation of food around the world, to the industrial processing methods, the plastic packaging, the congestion on our roads from supermarket lorries and the drive to the supermarket to buy increasingly expensive food carried home in plastic bags, the whole way we feed ourselves is increasingly being seen for what it is: unsustainable.

There is an alternative: eating locally grown food in season.

The monthly farmers' market at Westbury on Trym Primary School is a small step towards that model. The next step is to grow some of our own.

I know it sounds crazy but that's how good ideas often start - at the fringe of society. Eventually they appear obvious solutions and everyone takes them for granted.

At least, that's how I see it.

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1 comment:

Market Manager said...

The Monthly Local Produce Market has moved to the Staff Car Park next to the new Medical Centre. If you arrive early enough by car you can load bulk purchases in the boot. Alternatively the position puts the Market within easy walking range for many residents.
The Country Market is in the Methodist Church every Friday Morning and they also return on Produce Market days with additional stalls.
Allow for prejudice as I am the Market Manager responsible to the locally based organisers but I think you will find it well worth a visit. Jim

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