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gourmetpimpernel

Today's The Irish Times has spurred me into blogging life once more. In it there is an article entitled Can a cheap Christmas dinner pass the test?. Four journalists were asked to try an Aldi €25 "festive feast" and report their findings. There was a starter of smoked salmon, the traditional main of turkey and ham with all the trimmings, a desert of plum pudding, a cheese course and chocolates, which fed the four for €103.

All four journalists were impressed with the quality of the meal. They also were happy to note that, other than the bottle of wine, the whole dinner was produced in Ireland. For me it doesn't matter what the outcome was. We know that Aldi sells food cheaply and that the quality of this value food is always improving. I was not surprised when they reported positively on the taste of the food. What I was surprised by was the lauding, yet again, of a cut price supermarket chain that is decimating our country. I realise that this is an expensive time of year for people and that a five course Christmas dinner for €25 a head is a tempting offer. This is not the answer though. If Aldi are managing to sell a 5.5kg turkey for €30 someone is suffering, and you can be sure it's not Aldi. The margins for the producers of these value Irish foods are so tight that their livelihoods can only be sustained by producing enormous amounts. I would advocate the buying of a free range, preferably organic, turkey that is produced locally and is sold by an independent local butcher. This will cost more but would it not be better to keep our streets alive and ensure our butchers and other food sellers don't go out of business because of the impossible-to-compete-with prices of supermarket chains? Would it also not be better if rural Ireland was full of many small, quality, food producers who keep the local economies going and fill our country with activity rather than a small few large scale food producing monopolies? To afford a quality Christmas meal bought form local sellers people might have to sacrifice one or two of the sides or trimmings that Aldi offers. I know I would prefer to spend more on my turkey and veg and forego the cheese course, for example.

This morning, on my mad dash to work, late, I bumped into my local butcher, I hardly recognised him out of his butcher whites! He stopped me to say that he had over charged me the last time I was in and that he'd give me the money off my next meaty purchase. I hadn't even noticed the small over charge but I thought how lovely to have such friendly relations with my local butcher and how essential it is, for the good of our city centre, to support such small businesses who know us by name and remember our credit.

4 replies
Replied on

Mark,
Don`t say things like that,i have a rump steak in the frying pan simmering away now,
£26 a kg you said,what price was their fillet steak then?
Out of interest what was mince or stewing steak prices,trying to work out their average through price.
Don`t worry,i`m not putting mine up.

Replied on

This is a difficult and sensitive topic.

I think the quality of the food in Aldi is very good. Sure, it's not homemade so will never compete with that but, pound for pound, it is excellent value.

We moved back from Mayo this spring so i know the benefits of a local butcher and the excellent product and service that he provides. I also know fully well what a rip off country Ireland is and that the likes of Supervalu and Tesco pretend to be good value yet bump the prices up just because its Eire.

You can be sure that Aldi buy at the same price as the other big boys but aren't as greedy; hence the lower price.

I was in a farmers shop today and nearly fell through the floor when i saw the cost of their produce. Potatoes at £1.90 a kilo and a similar price for leeks
Rump steak at £26 a kilo.

Now ask me again why the supermarkets gain ground.....

Replied on

I don't think the answer is to make food cheaper, that's how we got ourselves into this situation in the first place. People's priorities have changed over the years and food is now lower down on the list of must-haves. Clothing, technology and holidays all seem to come before our food and the livelihoods of food producers.

I read a biography of Dickens and in it it said that the people of the time spent 90% of their income on food. I don't believe that we should have to revert to the lifestyles of Dickensian people but I do think that our current society believes that they can have it all. If quality food was made a priority once more I believe it would start a real regeneration of our countries.

Replied on

I can only agree with you, i hate the supermarkets with something approching passion. And personally i do not buy anything from any supermarket any longer. However i can see and understand the desire at any time but especially at christmas to give one's family all the trimmings and therefore i can see that the majority of families have little choice than buy from supermarkets and not worry about the high street.

I think that there must be another solution in that free range or even just properly reared food must become cheaper. Many of my friends who might well be clasesd as well off are also in that same boat on that same stormy sea. With all the fuel price hikes and transport costs that now bear little scrutiny they are also feeling the pinch. It s a difficult dilema and i am thankful that i dont have to live that dilema.


David

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