Choosing to buy direct can help more of the price reach the primary producer and help forge community connections.

Reader letter: Every little counts

Reader and Riverford co-owner Alice Lewthwaite on why she chooses to buy direct from a network of independent ethical businesses.

Driving home I caught Richard Curtis of Four weddings and a funeral fame talking about his work with the Make My Money Matter campaign, to get us to challenge how ethically our pensions are invested.  Our money and how and where we choose to spend it is a powerful tool for change and when related to the food we eat, one which rather than being a chore can open up a whole new sense of connection.

Thanks to the internet and other digital tools we can now choose to buy more directly from farmers and growers in the UK or even further afield and have it delivered to our doors. My reason for doing this is because I want to know that more of my money is going to the people who grow and rear my food with love and care so that they, not the supermarkets, are rewarded for their efforts. 

I want to know that more of my money is going to the people who grow and rear my food with love and care.

Supermarkets are built around offering us a one-stop-shop of convenience and low price. Gone are the days pre-supermarkets where you might buy different things from different shops, unless you are lucky enough to live near a vibrant high street of independent retailers. Of course, for many the supermarket offer is vital due to tight budgets, but for others there is a real opportunity to make their money matter for their local communities, farmers and wildlife. 

Thinking about what you buy and where else you could buy it is a first step, then all you have to do is pick a place to start. For me, it started with buying a veg box to share with my mum and a friend from a wonderful local market garden, Spindlebrook Farm near Modbury, in south Devon, where Hen, Leo and Elliott grow amazing vegetables without the use of pesticides and are obsessed with encouraging wildlife to flourish on their site too.

Next, I discovered that I could buy my organic milk and dairy direct from How Now Dairy, which also partners with other local suppliers to offer bread, cheese and meat as part of the delivery. I don’t each much meat so coping with a whole meat box, such as those from Farm Wilder, was not for me, so I visit the honesty fridge at Newton Down Farm to buy what I need as I drive by on my way home. Moving beyond my local area I buy British grown pulses and flours from Hodmedods, staples and cleaning products from the Ethical Superstore and loo paper from Who Gives a Crap. True – you need to plan ahead a bit more and need space to store 48 loo rolls when they arrive, but that is definitely a first-world problem.

Oddly enough it is my cats who send me on my rare outings to the supermarket as they have a preferred brand, perhaps one of the insect protein based brands will entice them one day.

Share your own positive stories, people or projects from food and farming and be in with a chance of winning a month’s worth of Riverford veg boxes. Find out more here.


Leave a Reply

  1. I try to buy as little as possible from supermarkets, preferring to use a company like Riverford. I also shop at a couple of local independent shops, which I also like to support. I think about how shops of this type are going to survive and I know trading conditions are hard. I know I could buy more on line and this would be easier for me but not good for the additional amount of cardboard boxes and packaging it would generate and to an extent the wellbeing of those shops!
    I think on balance if the local shops were not there I would buy more stuff on line as otherwise I would spend a lot of time travelling to another suitable shop. It’s a dilemma!

  2. This article almost sounds like me talking, except that I have always had dogs rather than cats and try not to eat meat at all. The last time I went into a supermarket proper was on the day before the very first lockdown in March 2020 (we have a supermarket link to Waitrose in one of our local petrol stations so I have been through that, though it’s not somewhere I shop, exactly). I had done some of my shopping at our local farm shop for some time and I switched to wholly that and then that with Riverford in the years since, with an occasional collective shop from our local village shops via Trove, and, of course, my own garden, when the time is right. The last has done really well this summer, even though, to remove the need for digging and weeding, these days I grow everything in deep troughs and pots, so I’m feeling quite proud of my own produce, including an abundance of herbs, some of which are going in the freezer for winter cooking each weekend. I do plan ahead and buy online and in bulk things that I can’t get from these main sources, and I haven’t missed the supermarket trolley at all. Quite the opposite, I feel the freedom of making my own choices and hope I’m helping a bit in the overall scheme of life as well.


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