Thursday, 14 May 2009


As part of its expansion plans, Tesco revealed that it has a £30 million turnover compared to 17 million for all other retail businesses in Lewes, including Waitrose. That means that about two thirds of our total retail spend is spent at Tesco. That overdependence makes our food supply hugely vulnerable to the ‘perfect storms’ the world has started to experience. It takes ten calories to get one calorie of supermarket food to your plate. Plus, it’s bad for our health and the planet’s.

Friends who shop at Tesco tell me it’s cheaper and more convenient. Those are partly myths: various recent surveys have shown that local wholefood is cheaper than Tesco’s. And in terms of convenience, you can redesign your habits to make local shopping easier, getting most of your food delivered.

The average family spends only 6% of their income on food compared to 30% a generation ago. That’s roughly what our family now spends on food, which is almost all organic wholefood. We make up for it by doing less on other things like expensive holidays. I’ve shopped like this for our family of six for some years, including years when I was holding down a demanding full-time job. Friends say they can't imagine how to wean themselves off supermarkets. Here's how I did it, including weekly costs for a family of 6

Bulk delivery (including loo rolls and the likes) from Infinity Foods three times a year £35
Weekly veg boxes delivered from local farm Ashurst Organics £15
Organic goats and cows milk delivered £10
Occasional meat from Boathouse Farm; fish from Riverside £20
Additional fruit, cheese, bread, butter, tofu and other fresh staples, mostly from May’s, Laportes and Barefoot Herbs, and Waitrose when I’m lazy: £80

That’s £160 a week, £27 a week each on food, or £3.80 a day, including lunchboxes. We could even cut that budget in half if we had to.

Tesco already gets two in three of our retail pounds. It wants to expand in Lewes by 50%. The application goes to the District Council’s planning department in early June. If you object, stop shopping at Tesco. And write to the Lindsay Frost, the director of planning and the councillors below, referring to planning application number: LW/08/1395.

See the Tescopoly website for the issues that the planning committee will consider. Though personally, I think being a major contributor to the destruction of the local economy, communities, the environment, the creatures such as honeybees, our national farming and our health should be good enough reasons to object.

Cllr Bob AllenCllr Rod Main (Chair) Cllr Sharon Davy Cllr Ian Eiloart Cllr Peter Gardiner Cllr Barry Groves Cllr Tom Jones Cllr Ron MaskellCllr David Mitchell Cllr Robert Worthington (Peacehaven)

UPDATE May09: The committee decided to postpone the Tesco decision while gathering more information. It's due for decision autumn 2009. I now grow most of our vegetables on our new allotment but still use the veg boxes and some veg from Barcombe Nurseries' stall in cliffe most saturdays.

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