Tuesday, May 5, 2009


A little vignette of consumer Britain this afternoon - I went out on foot into Stoke Newington to buy a chicken to roast tonight and came back empty-handed.

The two shops that sold them within walking distance were Whole Foods Direct and Tesco Metro.  I baulked at paying over £12 for a tiny specimen in WFD ("What Fucking Daylightrobbery"?).  And then in Tesco, the price tag of £2.90 for a chicken that was, if anything, slightly bigger, was just as off-putting.  

According to the label, the chicken meets "all the production standards that Tesco requires."  What an insulting, patronising, meaningless statement.  Of course it meets Tesco's standards, otherwise it wouldn't be on the shelf in fucking Tesco would it?  But there is not one shred of information on what those standards might be.  It would be a true statement if Tesco insisted chickens were played chamber music and allowed to sleep on soft cushions every day of their lives.  And it would be equally true if Tesco insisted that every chicken was pumped full of toxins and subjected to waterboarding for three days before being killed by having its intestines ripped out through its little beak.  Ridiculous. 

The chicken was, of course, in their value range.  Stokie Tesco only stocks value range chickens because their stock seems to be dictated on a demographic profiling of Stokie that probably uses census data, which is now almost a decade out of date.  If you notice, Tescos in nice middle class areas stock lots of lovely fresh fruit and veg and fresh herbs.  In poorer areas they fill the shame self space with nasty cheap shit and food they know is unhealthy for people, because that's what the plebs will buy.

Stokie is gentrifying, so the stocking policy is wrong.  But what's particularly insulting is that the working class population round here has a high proportion of Turks - go into one of the Turkish groceries across the road and it's bursting with bunches of fresh herbs and lots of exotic veg (the problem being they display it outside in the traffic and it's all droopy and grey) .  But Tesco has no room for these ethnic idiosyncrasies and so does a disservice to both its posher and poorer catchment area.

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