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Shopped: The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets [Paperback]

Joanna Blythman
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
Price: 11.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

21 Jan 2010

An elegant demolition of the supermarket miracle, this book charts the impact that supermarkets have had on every aspect of our lives and culture.

Did you know…

• Almost 50% of supermarket fruit and vegetables contain pesticide residues?

• UK supermarkets make 40p on every £1 spent on bananas while plantations workers are paid just 1p?

• Supermarkets instill a climate of fear amongst their suppliers?

• Every time a supermarket opens the local community loses on average 276 jobs?

In the 1970s, British supermarkets had only 10% of the UK's grocery spend. Now they swallow up 80%, influencing how we shop, what we eat, how we spend our leisure time, how much rubbish we generate, even the very look of our physical environment.

Award-winning food writer Joanna Blythman investigates the enormous impact that these big box retailers are having on our lives. She meets the farmers who are selling food to supermarkets for less than they need to survive and the wholesalers who have been eliminated from the supply chain; she travels to suburban retail parks to meet the teenagers and part-timers who stack our shelves and reveals the hoops third world suppliers must jump through to earn supermarket contracts.

This thought-provoking, witty and sometimes chilling voyage of discovery is sure to make you think twice before you enthusiastically reach for that supermarket trolley again.


Frequently Bought Together

Shopped: The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets + Bad Food Britain: How A Nation Ruined Its Appetite + Fast Food Nation: What The All-American Meal is Doing to the World
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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; New Ed edition (21 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007158041
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007158041
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 12.8 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 51,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joanna Blythman is Britain's leading investigative food journalist and an influential commentator on the British food chain. She has won five Glenfiddich awards for her writing, including a Glenfiddich Special Award for her first book The Food We Eat, a Caroline Walker Media Award for Improving the Nation's Health by Means of Good Food, and a Guild of Food Writers Award for The Food We Eat. In 2004, she won the prestigious Derek Cooper Award, one of BBC Radio 4's Food and Farming Awards. In 2007, Good Housekeeping Magazine gave her its award for Outstanding Contribution to Food Award 2007. She writes and broadcasts frequently on food issues.

Product Description

Review

She probably knows more than anyone else about where our food comes from.' Nigel Slater

'Joanna Blythman has bravely and compellingly exposed the corrosive effect of supermarkets on our farming and our food culture. And she has rightly identified you, the consumer, as the only person who can do anything about it. Don't read it and weep. Read it and change the way you shop.'
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

'Shocking and powerful' The Guardian

'She'll fire you up with a righteous fervour that may last beyond your return to the mainland.' The Times

'Blythman has provided a compelling wake-up call' Financial Times

About the Author

Joanna Blythman is Britain's leading investigative food journalist and an influential commentator on the British food chain. She has won five Glenfiddich awards for her writing, including a Glenfiddich Special Award for her first book, ‘The Food We Eat’, a Caroline Walker Media Award for 'Improving the Nation's Health by Means of Good Food', and a Guild of Food Writers Award for ‘The Food We Eat’. In 2004, she won the prestigious Derek Cooper Award, one of BBC Radio 4's Food and Farming Awards. In 2007, Good Housekeeping Magazine gave her its award for Outstanding Contribution to Food Award 2007. She has also written three other groundbreaking books, ‘How to Avoid GM Food’, ‘The Food Our Children Eat’ and’Bad Food Britain’. She writes and broadcasts frequently on food issues.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
63 of 63 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Like I've done, if you ever wondered who paid for those 'buy one, get one free' offers in your local supermarket, this book is ideal. I'm not going to spoil it, it's worth buying the book, but here's a taster:

It explodes the myth that supermarkets offer the customer real 'choice' in the products they offer and that they are being more environmentally friendly, as they waste vasts amounts of fuel with their transportation policies, both at home and abroad. They also throw away perfectly edible fruit and vegetables because they don't meet 'their' standards and 'fine' suppliers 25 for each product returned to them by customers, even if the bag (such as on potatoes) splits by accident.

Stories of apples that are stored for up to a year in special bunkers, which diminish their nutritional value. Fruit and veg farmers paid virtually nothing for their labours and having the prices agreed for their produce cut by the supermarkets even after a price is agreed and they've gone ahead and planted them. Appears to be for no reason at all other than the bottom line....profit and sheer naked greed, although the supermarkets claim this is 'necessary' because of 'competitiors' forcing them to lower their prices, which (of course) they must pass on.

Ever thought about the effect of those tiny trays of mangetout imported from Kenya and other distant places have on the enviromnent? The packaging is transported by air from the UK. Packing sheds of poorly paid local labour tie beans into neat little bundles, seal them in trays and which are then flown back to the UK. That's 2,000 miles for the vegetables and 4,000 miles for the packaging! All that travel can be claimed as a 'business expense'.

After reading this, I stopped buying fruit and veg from suprmarkets and use my local high street grocers more. Better quality, lower prices and they haven't travelled so far. I'm sure you'll think about doing the same.
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97 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IGNORE THIS BOOK AT YOUR PERIL 12 Jun 2004
Format:Paperback
Everyone who shops in supermarkets should read this book. You will end up wondering how we sleepwalked into a situation where the control of 80% of the food retail market is in the hands of a tiny group of greedy retailers who now want to move in on the non-food retail market and have total domination of all retail everywhere.
Joanna Blythman carefully dissects the entrails of the world of supermarkets with the sang-froid of a pathologist in a mortuary, from the way staff are induced into the mindless mantras of Asda Wal-Mart to the way suppliers are mercilessly screwed to the wall and dropped from favour on a whim as in some royal court of the past.
The picture portrayed of the abuse of power employed by the supermarkets conjures up a feeling of complete horror, yet it is done in a completely non-hysterical way, allowing the facts speak for themselves. For example, far from creating jobs, every time a large superstore opens, there is a net loss of 276 jobs; two thirds of butchers have gone out of business in the last twenty-five years; during 2001 one small newsagent closed very day and researchers predict that by 2050 there will be no independent food stores left in the UK - what's that supermarkets are always saying about "choice"?
Whilst researching her book, the author toured around the UK looking at what she calls "the neutron-bomb effect" superstores have on small businesses and how they have contributed to the decline of communities, where all you see are boarded up shops, charity shops, video rental shops and fast food outlets. This all conjures up a depressing vision of the UK where there seems to be very little political will to try and stop the supermarket juggernaut.
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62 of 63 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This book achieved the feat of motivating me to completely re-evaluate and change my shopping habits before I'd even got half way through reading it. And I don't feel in the slightest like I'm denying myself anything -- quite the opposite in fact. Nor am I spending any more money than I was before.
I was pretty much your average shopper, doing at least 90% of my food shopping at supermarkets, and buying other stuff there too (like clothes, CDs etc). I've never been on a diet, I'm not particuarly health conscious, I eat plenty of meat, I went for the cheap deals, supermarket own-brand products, and 2 for 1 offers thinking I was beating the system. Seems strange now, though it was only a fortnight ago.
The book does not hector or preach or seek to make anyone feel guilty (despite what one review here claims) but gives you a clear picture of how supermarkets function, and how they affect food production, societies and cultures. Now when I see those 2 for 1 offers, or the rows and rows of identical vegetables, I don't just see the produce, but the people and systems that lie behind it. And this makes it easy to leave it where it is and go shop somewhere else.
Apart from those with environmental and social concerns, I'd also recommend this book to people who want something to help motivate them to eat more healthily -- after reading this it becomes difficult to pick up processed food without picturing the whole crappy system that put it on the shelf, and my motivation to spend a little time cooking fresher stuff is much increased.
The book achieves this is short, well-written chapters, full of well-referenced facts and coherent arguments. It even gives the supermarkets pretty much a whole chapter of their own to respond.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor & Misleading... I'm sure the book fine
I thought I was purchasing the 2011 updated version of this book. But instead I received the 2004 version of this book which is now 10 years old. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Danny
5.0 out of 5 stars Eyeopening!
When you read this book you have to bear in mind that supermarkets have obviously improved things since this was printed. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mrs J Fear
4.0 out of 5 stars Food for thought
This is a well researched and thorough account of how supermarkets have risen to stardom, and eliminated taste. What a pity the horse meat scandal happened after it was written. Read more
Published 11 months ago by ANG
4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing reading
I saw Joanna on a BBC1 programme recently and was immediately impressed by her knowledge and candour - so I bought 'Shopped'. Read more
Published 11 months ago by thehighrise
5.0 out of 5 stars You need to read this!
Covers a lot of the business of the multiples with very revealing information about the practice of 'big business' and makes the reader think very hard about where shopping is best... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Nick Paul
5.0 out of 5 stars behind the shop
I like the book because of the way it shows what go on behind shop and how it change the England health and food. I like to find out about this food we eat and how it get they. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Ashley Boyd
5.0 out of 5 stars A real eye opener
A very disturbing insight into how we are controlled by the supermarkets. We can only minimize the power of supermarkets by voting with our feeet
Published 16 months ago by fab
5.0 out of 5 stars Read, get angry - and change your shopping
Joanna Blythman is angry about the state of Britain's food - and at the heart of that is the the supermarket behemoth. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Ms. A. Kendal
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
after reading this very interesting book,you will not look at supermakets the same again.this book challenges you to try greengrocers,fishmongers and butchers (if you can still... Read more
Published on 24 April 2012 by D. abbott
3.0 out of 5 stars Good facts - but to wordy
I have just finished reading this book. It has some really interesting facts and good points of view. Read more
Published on 3 Oct 2011 by A. Hurdus
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