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65 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exposing the myths of supermarkets allowing 'choice'.
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,...
Published on 3 Nov 2006 by Markey

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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars flawed but affecting
This book is far from perfect - the style of writing often descends into sneering sarcasm; arguments, expressions and whole phrases are repeated*; and the author's approach is to make lots of small points rather than a coherent argument, which leaves some sections feeling weak.

The strength of the arguments, too, can be patchy. The section on how supermarkets...
Published on 10 Sep 2006 by R. Brightwell


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65 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exposing the myths of supermarkets allowing 'choice'., 3 Nov 2006
This review is from: Shopped: The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets (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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65 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a guilt trip, but a hugely motivating call to action., 21 Feb 2005
By 
G. Bassett (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Shopped: The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets (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.
Importantly, the book also gives plenty of information about alternatives to supermarket shopping, and action you can take at all levels, from changing individual habits to joining campaigning groups.
I really wasn't expecting that I'd change my shopping habits so suddenly and radically in the course of a few days. Now I can't see myself ever going back, or ever wanting to.
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100 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IGNORE THIS BOOK AT YOUR PERIL, 12 Jun 2004
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. However, there are some useful tips at the end of the book on how we as individuals can take action against this unhealthy state of affairs, for example, by using your local shops; by questioning the whole supermarket paradigm; by cutting up your loyalty card; by writing to your MP, to name but a few.
This is an intelligently written, riveting and very readable book which systematically explodes all the myths we have been fed by the supermarket marketing machine. It is not a ranting, political polemic but a strongly-reasoned argument by someone who knows the world of food inside out and who cares passionately that we have allowed this disaster to happen.
If you ever wondered why all ready meals taste the same, why supermarket fruit and veg looks great and tastes of nothing, if you ever wondered about the real cost of "cheap" food then read this book. Get angry. Then DO something about it.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'No Logo' for British supermarkets... read it and weep., 18 April 2007
By 
This review is from: Shopped: The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets (Paperback)
'Shopped' takes the reader on a lively, thought-provoking and incredibly interesting journey through the world of the modern British supermarket, revealing every secret trick and behind-the-scenes truths that they really wouldn't want the public to think about. From screwed-over suppliers to exhausted assistants, corner-cutting to own-label quality, obsessive perfection to global domination; it's all here in candid detail. I work as a shop assistant for one of the 'Big Four' and already, within a couple of months of employment, I can see the truth in some of the topics covered in Blythman's book.

This book has affected me so much that I am determined to do as much of my shopping as possible elsewhere, even if that means taking the time to go further afield instead of choosing convenience. Already I have been inspired to frequent local markets and independent retailers instead, and am even considering leaving my job, such is my disgust at the underhand activities and money-greed that supermarkets shamelessly involve themselves in...

Read this book, be inspired and support local British produce from knowledgable, friendly specialists. This book should be compulsory reading for everyone from teenagers to grandmothers.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This excellent book has changed my shopping habits, 14 Oct 2004
Although I was vaguely aware of the power of the supermarkets I hadn't imagined quite how much control they have. Their treatment of suppliers, third world producers and lack of environmental concern is shocking. How shoppers are manipulated by the supermarket publicity machines was also very enlightening and I have to confess that I have fallen for several of their marketing gimmicks in the past.
This book is extremely well written and very thought provoking - so much so that I now avoid the supermarkets and shop elsewhere. Highly recommended.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good investigative journalism, does not go far enough, 26 July 2005
By 
Mr. J. W. Parkin "JWP" (Surrey, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Like another reviewer here, I could not put this down - and I am not a big book reader either. I come from the angle of being a retailer, so it was interesting for me to see the tactics employed by the big supermarkets and from this point of view the book gives clear examples of how they have succeeded in increasing their market share. But at what cost? Changing my hat to that of a consumer, this book is seriously alarming in pointing out to us how much the supermarkets have stifled innovation and choice, driving us shoppers down the road they want us to go in blissful ignorance. It's aim is to make us all aware that it could well be cheaper to shop elsewhere, and likely resulting in us eating better quality food - and to that extent it succeeded with me.
I would liked to have seen more examples of the "suffering" side of the story. The author mentions supermarket suppliers that have suffered and gives percentage examples of how their prices have been cut, but omits to quantify in monetary terms. Many suppliers are so big that a few percentage points here and there would not hurt them - whereas others have been driven out of business and it would be good to understand their full plight and see how nasty the supermarkets really are. Even if the suppliers had to remain anonymous, this would have completed the picture for me.
While the investigative journalism recorded in the book is impressive, I felt that the focus is also too much on food - look closely at how supermarkets are driving book and CD shops to close by only stocking the "top 20" at prices cheaper than the other shops can buy them for. Consumers will lose as we won't be able to go to a CD shop to see anything outside the "top 20" because the supermarkets will have driven them to fail commercially.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shopped - A MUST Read, 25 Nov 2005
By 
Susan Davies (POOLE, Dorset United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Shopped: The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets (Paperback)
Over the last couple of years I have become more disconcerted with the food that I have been feeding my family and have been looking to change. I have taken time to watch "foodie" programmes one of which was the programme about Supermarket practices. I read the book after watching this horrific programme and have made the final steps to try and remove all need to go to supermarkets from our lives. It is frightening the "Big Brother" power these multi-national giants have over our lives and so is the prospect that in the future we will not be able to buy food that they don't have a hand in processing and fiddling about with. The tide needs to turn now and the general public needs this information rammed down their throats to make them see the need to cut up the "loyalty" cards (just marketing tools) and step away from the processed rubbish that supermarkets want us and subliminally get us to buy. We need to go back to finding good wholesome food that we can taste and enjoy from local independent shops. I urge anyone who is interested in food and the health and well being of themselves and their loved ones get a copy of this book, and find the time to read it. It will be an epiphany.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More frightening than any Stephen King horror film, 16 Jan 2008
By 
Linda Kennedy "daisy-day" (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shopped: The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets (Paperback)
This is a superbly well researched and written book which exposes the dirty tricks that UK supermarket bullies employ.

I could not believe what they are allowed to get away with and how they can put our farmers and growers out of business with one phone call. Amazing that they actually expect fruit and veg to conform to their own colour chart and measurement table and if a supplier's fruit or veg was out by a couple of millimetres the whole consignment was rejected and sent back to the supplier who usually couldn't sell it on because it had been in the supermarket's warehouse too long.

As a result of reading this book I have destroyed all my supermarket loyalty cards, sourced two local farmshops and a farmers market where I will be buying all of my fruit and veg and cheese and I have persuaded my friends to do the same.

This book should be mandatory reading for anyone who has ever shopped in a supermarket. However in the long run it is down to us the consumer to vote with our feet and support our farmers in the UK before they disappear for ever.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars flawed but affecting, 10 Sep 2006
By 
R. Brightwell (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Shopped: The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets (Paperback)
This book is far from perfect - the style of writing often descends into sneering sarcasm; arguments, expressions and whole phrases are repeated*; and the author's approach is to make lots of small points rather than a coherent argument, which leaves some sections feeling weak.

The strength of the arguments, too, can be patchy. The section on how supermarkets treat their suppliers is worthy of a book in itself. But when you read the parts on the quality of the food itself, there is no hiding the fact that the author is more often found writing restaurant reviews! At one point she records conversations where she harangues supermarket mat-counter staff with queries like "I have a Nigel Slater recipe that calls for grilled, spatchcocked chicken. If I buy your pre-packed chicken, can you bone it out for me?". Of course the staff are bewildered, probably rolling their eyed and thinking Ms Blythman is pompous, bourgeois and probably a Guardian food writer.

That said, it has changed my view of supermarkets entirely. I can't look at a pack of Sainsbury's vine tomatoes, individually packed in clusters of six (two rows of three), without thinking about the tonnes of produce that will have been rejected and not paid for because it didn't grow in this convenient formation. Say one fell off the vine, on account of having ripened. That's a whole branch rejected. And I live in the city centre, where the tiny Sainsbury's Local doesn't sell tomatoes that aren't in a plastic packet.

This book will change the way you shop and the way you think about shopping, will make you angry and determined to do something about supermarket's dominance and manipulation of our shopping habits. It will make you yearn to find a decent independent grocer within walking distance. And if there isn't one, you'll know why.

I just wish it was a bit better written!

*for example, a quote about Tesco's international strategy appears on p235, and then again seven pages later on p242! One of many occasions where you find yourself thinking "do I have déjà vu? Or have I already read this?!"
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read and take on board!, 22 Jun 2004
By A Customer
I couldn't put this book down once I'd started. It reads like a good fiction book but the horrific realisation that it's factual makes it even more compelling. I'm absolutely stunned that these issues aren't constantly in the papers/on the news. The book has totally changed my attitude to shopping and I'm not going to support supermarkets any more. I realised that by 'taking the easy option' and shop in supermarkets we are destroying not just smaller independent businesses but also encouraging food production and attitudes that will ruin our health long term! Please read and take on board.
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Shopped: The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets
Shopped: The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets by Joanna Blythman (Paperback - 21 Jan 2010)
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