Having lived in Acocks Green for many years I’ve managed (at least in my own mind!) to purchase food with a fairly ethical slant.
Of course this means visiting a variety of shops to achieve this, not just the supermarket (the existence of which, of course, being the main reason for smaller, ‘specialist’ shops closing down over the years).
One unexpected benefit of this is the rapport you build up with shop keepers and assistants. Something that just couldn’t happen in a long queue at the till of a supermarket.
Acocks Green doesn’t enjoy what you might call a fully ethical shop like Indigo Wholefoods in Moseley or Revital in Solihull, and I do sometimes use these two places if I’m in the vicinity of either of them. However, I’d rather not make special journeys to these places, racking up travel costs and contributing to polluting the air. ‘Shop Local’ is the watchword, (or words!) for me, and walkable from home.
The only supermarket in Acocks Green centre at the moment is Aldi, as the Sainsbury site is currently being turned into a Morrisons (long story, and it’s taking ages to complete).
Anyway, as I say, Sainsburys is closed so I’m now getting my MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) fish from Aldi and beans and tomatoes from the newsagent or The Spa by me. Not organic unfortunately, but supporting local business which keeps money in the area.
Other places I use are as follows:-
HUGHES GREEN GROCERS.
Owned and run by a lovely guy, most things are sold loose and you fill up the brown paper bags yourself. This is my favourite place to food shop. Way more choice, particularly fruit wise, than your average supermarket. Of course some things come in a plastic punnet but most is loose. So you are supporting the local shop and pretty much avoiding single use plastic. I grow my own veg so half the year I’m pretty much just buying fruit here.
HOLLAND AND BARRATT.
Only been in Acocks Green for 2 years, but have quite a nice fridge and freezer selection of veggie and vegan food (‘beef’ and ‘chicken’ alternatives, falafels, pies, milk alternatives and organic porridge and muesli). They are keen to give you things for free that are near the sell by date too, rather than throwing them out, thus reducing unnecessary waste.
Not what springs to mind perhaps for an ethical shop, but they have an unprecedented set of workers benefits and profit sharing for a large UK wide company, and do sell lovely veggie three cheese pizzas and vegetable pastry slices. Not to mention fresh wholemeal bread.
These shops pretty much cover my needs, and as mentioned above, if I need a few tins or a loaf of bread, I’ll support my local newsagent. MSC fish from Aldi (unfortunately). There is a lot of debate about the true environmental worth of MSC fish, but it’s certainly the best option out of the ethical fish labelling options (‘Freedom Food’ and ‘Dolphin Friendly’ are very vague and have weaker rules).
Slightly off the subject, it’s also worth mentioning the fantastic clothing repair shop, JUNE’S ALTERATIONS, who even make cuddly toys and JEFFRIES hardware shop, who always support all the local initiatives of the Acocks Green Neighbourhood Forum like the Village In Bloom award and Christmas Lights fund and also sell things loose like brackets, nails, screws and so on.
To sum up, wherever you live, try and support your local small shops, avoid plastic wrapping and look for the words organic and Fair Trade.