I saved 10% in 100-day supermarket boycott

Many people want to buy local but do not know how

30 May 2018
By Brian McCulloch

Buying locally produced food is popular, with polls regularly showing that up to 70% of French people support the idea even though many see it as costing more.

But a journalist has tried it and found the opposite – she actually saved money.

Mathilde Golla
Figaro writer Mathilde Golla

Seeing that many people want to buy local but do not know how, Le Figaro writer Mathilde Golla tackled the question head on, setting a target of living for 100 days without going into a hypermarket, supermarket, or food shop, including organic  food shops.

Instead, she shopped at markets, bought directly from producers and tried out fresh vegetable home delivery services usually run by co-operatives.

Where she could Ms Golla bought locally, something she found possible even though she lived in one of the satellite towns of Paris.

“The big surprise was that I saved money, averaging 10% less on household bills each week,” she told Connexion. “Anyone who has tried to buy food from markets and local producers will know that prices are often higher than in supermarkets but I found that I saved because there was no temptation to buy ready-made meals.

“I cooked more myself, and wasted less because things did not come in a packet which got lost in the back of the fridge. And, because I cooked for myself, I also found I ended up eating out less.”

Above all, she found considerable savings in buying locally-made household cleaning products, or making them herself, and using old tips such as substituting vinegar for anti-lime bathroom products.

Liquid laundry soap can be made by shaving soap into small pieces and mixing it with water and good washing-up liquid can be made with a mixture of water, savon noir, bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar. 

“The cleaning products were the huge surprise, and ingredients or locally-made products are becoming much easier to find,” she said.

“Not only were they much cheaper but they often seemed to do the job better than the products I used to use.”

Her main tip for anyone tempted to try this is to use social media networks. “Whenever I was tearing my hair out wondering how I could cope without something, I would ask the question online and someone would come up with a practical solution. Obviously, being connected to other people who lived locally was a big help and I found my local contacts list grew fast.”

She also found writing down tips, names, addresses and telephone numbers in a notebook helped when wanting to re-order, instead of starting from scratch each time, or having to scroll through her web history and emails.

She detailed her experiences in a recent book 100 Jours Sans Supermarché, which contains a lot of good advice.

She said the big disadvantage was that sourcing local products took more time than doing one big supermarket shop, and attempts to buy local cosmetics or make her own were not a success.

However, she added: “Things have got much better since then.

“Even though I stopped after 100 days, when I went back into supermarkets, I found I did not want to buy as much as before. Buying locally quickly became a way of life.”

100 Jours Sans Supermarché (Flammarion €18, French only)

Buy directly from producers

Find help to buy locally with a range of websites to highlight local producers.

Mathilde Golla suggests:

  • laruchequiditoui.fr – it has 860 sites where 5,000 producers deliver bread, milk, meat, fruit and veg for local pick-up of internet orders
  • lecomptoirlocal.fr delivers web orders of items like the above, plus beauty products, and prepared dishes to your home in 48 hours
  • AMAP Assoc­iation pour le Maintien d’une Agricul­ture Paysanne where buyers offer baskets of fresh, often just-picked, products, for local pick-up across France
  • For meat, okadran.fr and poiscaille.fr for fish eaters
  • Paniers recettes groups such as Foodette or Quitoque that deliver fresh items for a meal that you make yourself
  • Elsewhere, teravenue.com lists good local producers, as does acheteralasource.com and peche-maison.fr offers fish.
  • Use locavore in web search for local suppliers and buy in-season cheaper tinyurl.com/pw62y9t
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