REFLECTIONS OF A SHOPKEEPER
This was an interesting little find today so I thought I'd share it with you. I've been rearranging the pantry again. Yes, it seems to happen in our own house almost as frequently as it happens in the shop (my poor husband ). In doing so I came across these plastic wrapped dried porchini mushrooms. So you see, no we aren't perfect either, but that isn't the point.
I remember when these came into our lives. Will had taken the boys for a walk some time last year and stopped by a local cafe. He didn't have enough cash to pay for the hot chocolate treats that had been promised, and so he bought an extra something to get him to the minimum spend for a card payment. And so, this bag of dried porchini (Cep) mushrooms was added to the array of jars and bottles in the pantry and sat there. I finally decided to use them up today and was pretty horrified with what I found. It's a reasonably large bag and so I assumed that it had in it a reasonably large quantity. On closer inspection the bag says 30g. Entirely reasonable for the £3 they cost us because as a bulk food shop owner I know how much these things cost. They aren't cheap! But it raises a couple of important points.
1. The amount of plastic used to house this handful of dried mushrooms (about half a mugs worth) was so disproportionate to the amount of product inside. You don't get that when you buy on refill so please do take this as a new year reminder to check how much you are taking as you go along so that you don't accidentally overfill (especially when using our paper bags which can carry a huge amount).
2. Since we opened we have sold over 18 metric tonnes of product on refill. Just stop to think about how much plastic that has saved if this giant bag was used to house just 30g of dried mushrooms. Well done you guys!! Thank you so much for making such a huge difference.
3. For the most part we are commended on keeping our prices accessible. People are usually pleasantly surprised with their basket tally but (as with all things in life), there are some outliers. For the most part we have the same margin across most of our refill products and so if something does seem particularly expensive compared to other items there is very likely a reason for that. Take these mushrooms as an example. It takes 530g of raw mushrooms to end up with 100g of dried mushrooms and as you will know mushrooms are light. So that's a heck of a lot to harvest. Secondly, did you know that there are a relatively limited number of species that can actually be cultivated (I learned this recently from our excellent staff member Cheryl so I've been doing some more research). So for those packs of dried wild mushrooms you see on sale, just have a think about the number of person hours that must have gone into finding, foraging, harvesting, cleaning, drying, and packaging them. If you then make sure that everyone along that supply chain gets a fair wage, £3 for 30g of mushrooms suddenly seems extremely fair.
So on that note I'm off to make something with our delicious mushrooms and knowing what I now know I'll enjoy every mouthful even more.
Happy New Year folks! With the R rates rising as fast as they are please do stay at home if you can. We are now fully open again but also have deliveries available. So pop on over to the website if you'd like to order: www.grainandsustain.co.uk
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- Tags: ethical supply chain, fair trade, food, foodie, grain and sustain, mushrooms, plastic free, plastic reduction, sustainability, zero waste