City Hippy

The diary of our struggle to live a green and fair life.

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CityHippy has posted its last post now (I now work for EMP plc, run At Home magazine online and more and personally blog over at Why? Click here to find out. We might be back. Keep our RSS feeds, keep us bookmarked, sign up for the news alert on the right. You never know...

We are dedicated to exploring how to live a greener and more ethical life. City Hippy is a growing collective of writers bringing you two types of content:

ARTICLES: Enjoy real content by real people trying really hard to live a greener and fairer life. Generally in-depth with weekly updates at least. Located in main body below.Subscribe:
BOOKMARKS: Follow our web travels & explore our 1400+ links to a greener life across various categories i.e. baby, cosmetics, DIY, furniture, garden & shopping. Short, sharp and frequent updates. Located down to the right. Click here to see our latest three bookmarks.Subscribe:


Wednesday, August 31, 2005

SPECIAL: Katrina

Plenty of people have started debating whether or not Hurricane Katrina is a natural part of the Hurricane cycle or further evidence of climate change and global warming thereby politicizing the disaster and implicating President Bush.

Some people have taken to condemning the connections being made, they feel mostly by the left, between the actions of President Bush and the devastation of the New Orleans area by Hurricane Katrina.

Others have started the process of trying to lay blame.

All of these are valuable issues to discuss...just not right now!

Right now New Orleans and its surrounding areas seems almost devastated.

Right now countless people have lost their lives, loved ones or homes.

Right now they are facing the biggest set of challenges any human ever faces.

Right now what those people need most is help and relief.

Right now all our energy should be devoted to helping those in need.

The time for politics, blame and lessons to be learned will come.

Just not right now!

Click here to donate to the Red Cross relief effort.

Good luck to you if you are affected!



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YEAH RIGHT: Herbal Essences

Whilst chilling at the end of the day I saw an ad on TV. An ad that made me laugh out loud and at the end of the ad exclaim YEAH RIGHT.

The ad was for Herbal Essences Rain Forest Flowers

Lots of gorgeous lady on camera, lots of lovely foliage and eden-like settings, lots of love generally for all things natural.

Whether they intended it or not the way I percieved the ad left me with the feeling that if I use this shampoo I will somehow be doing good for the planet.

A search on the Household Products Database confirmed that:

These products have been used extensively by consumers and Clairol is not aware of any significant potential for adverse reactions. Target Organs: These products contain ingredients which have been shown to affect tissues or organs when fed at high levels of exposure in animal studies not encountered in normal use. Target organs identified in animal studies are as follows: Glycerin--kidney, liver; Propylene glycol--central nervous system (CNS); SD Alcohol 40--liver, eye, CNS, reproductive.

Lose yourself in an exclusive blend of exotic botanicals with New Herbal Essences Rainforest Flowers Shampoo and Conditioner. Discover lush and radiant hair with the power of Passion Flower, Patchouli and Vetiver to quench and revitalize. With the exquisite lather and exotic scent you only get with Rainforst Flowers it’s a sensuous escape for you and your hair.

Ahem...seminal moment here...YEAH RIGHT!

Basically, and we need your help here, we want to start highlighting ads that we think deserve a big fat YEAH RIGHT! Ads that are just so hilarious in their message as to make you laugh out loud. Got anything for us at the usual address: Image hosted by



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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

REVIEW: By Nature is a new informative shopping site offering various green and fair products. In their own words they bring inspiration for a green lifestyle in the 21st Century. They remind us of a UK to be honest. also offers a lifestyle area with lots of info, suggestions and tips to help you get greener and a community area allowing all the site users and shoppers to learn, commune, discuss and so on. seems like a nice site...with a nice product range...

City Hippy rating of 4 out of 5

ALERT: Just to let you seems to have a sale on at the moment. Looks good to us!

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City Hippy occasionally gets the chance to interview a green pioneer, someone who has put their career and money where their mouth is and started up a green enterprise.

We have been following the progress of the website for a while now.

FOR SHOPPERS: is a great UK focused online shopping directory with a heavy slant on location. No point buying green or fair only to have it shipped half way round the world producing tons of CO2. helps you source green and ethical products and services as close to you as possible. A very good idea.

FOR BUSINESSES: offers a basic free listing in all locations including national categories to anyone providing a green or ethical product or service. They also offer paid services for those businesses looking to upgrade their listing. If you are not in this probably should be...and it is what are you waiting for?

We were delighted to interview the founder of, David Oglaza, about why he started up the site, his experiences and what his advice is for any green entrepreneurs out there.

City Hippy: Hi David, pleasure to get in touch with you. What inspired you to go green yourself and what kept you going during that time?

David Oglaza: My first real job after university was working for an insurance company in Manchester on a good wage for my age. This truly opened my eyes to the rat race.

I became disillusioned with the rat race and insurance products pretty quickly and with a yearning to travel I worked for eighteen months with endless overtime.

Then with money in the bank I set off to Nepal to live in a village teaching English to both students and Nepali English teachers who sometimes spoke less English than their students.

The real Third World poverty and the friendleness of the people changed my outlook on life. After Nepal I travelled round Asia and became interested in Fair Trade (or unfair trade) and the meaning at the grassroots level.

The seed for was planted.

I came back to the UK and studied for a Masters Degree in Development studies to enhance my knowledge of this area and to try and find a future career path. After my MA, months and months of unemployment and low paid temporary jobs followed which saps away at the strength and dignity of even the best of us but throughout this time the idea of a Fair Trade and green website kept my mind busy.

It's a shame that confidence was low at this time and the funds even lower.

After more voluntary work in the UK, at last I found employment working to reduce social inclusion in the local community.

This boost in confidence and funds meant that I could take my Fairtrade ideas to the next level.

While speaking to family and friends about green issues they revealed that they were interested in organic and vegan food.

I found that they struggled to find where to buy these items as supermarkets sold only a very small range.

The idea of a green directory was born!

I did the research and looked at hundreds of green related directories and websites that were often poorly built and none offered a variety of categories and the possibility of finding your 'local' store easily.

Eighteen months later of thinking and planning was born.

City Hippy:'s always a struggle to get these ideas off the ground but you did achieve that and we are sure you are proud of that. As you have indicated there were dark times when confidence was low and funds were even lower. What was your biggest fear before starting the site?

David: That people in the UK would not see the benefits of shopping locally and hence and its locations would not be fully utilized.

All other websites only advertise national companies or they advertise regional companies on a national basis which is wasted advertising for those regional companies.

Incidentally, doesn't make a profit at present as 10% of turnover is donated to charity and the rest is spent on advertising and running costs.

City Hippy: We don't imagine you have much to worry about as the vast majority of companies don't make a profit in the first year either. It's bound to be tough but it sounds as if has a very competitive edge. Take us through what is different about

David: Well essentially you can find different green food and non-food items on a town, regional and national level.

There is also an ethical directory which uses the Good Shopping Guide research to recommend ethical products.

We feel that covers ground no one else is covering.

City Hippy: Agreed. We have not come across anything similar to be honest, yet! Sounds like has a rosy future to us but ultimately what is your vision of the world in the future?

David: My vision of the world in the future is a greener and less wastful world!! A world where more people shop locally to rejuvenate their local high streets and bring jobs and prosperity to their own local areas.

The world needs to become much more of a Fair Trade world so that producers are paid a fair price for their products which leads into the anti-poverty campaigns of 'Trade not Aid'.

Subsidies in Europe and the US should be reduced to create a level playing field. At the moment it is cheaper to buy sugar from the EU and the US in Kenya than it is to buy locally produced sugar due to the amount of subsidies that US and European farmers receive. This practice is known as 'dumping' and creates poverty and resentment throughout the developing world.

City Hippy: We agree and really do believe that Fair Trade is the key to almost all our global social justice and environmental problems. You must have had a whirlwind couple of years setting up and we would love to know what advice you would give to other budding green entrepreneurs out there?

David: Just do it! Green markets are growing ten fold every year creating a demand for a new generation of social enterprises and related products.

Operate your business in a green, ethical and sustainable way and in the long run it will look after you. If you are expecting a quick return on your investment you could be in for a long wait!

City Hippy: Excellent advice for budding green entrepreneurs AND for potential green investors. OK just before we leave you alone to run your green and growing business do you have any juicy gossip for us?

David: Well not sure if its juicy or gossip but would like to let all your readers know that has passed the 200,000 hits mark since its launch in March and that we are looking to add a discussion board in the next few months as resources allow!

City Hippy: Thanks David...30,000 a month seems like tons of site traffic...and a discussion forum sounds like a perfect addition to the site. You clearly have a great vision and City Hippy agress with you all the way. Good luck with the site and keep us posted.

David: Thanks for your support City Hippy. Good talking with you and good luck to you too.

City Hippy's final thought: is clearly a good idea launched at the right time. When we are all starting to think about food miles more and more a site that allows us to find local suppliers of green and ethical products and services is clearly called for. We have no doubt we will be hearing more about in the future.

Have you used Got any feedback or thoughts? We are sure David will be glad to hear your thoughts.

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Thursday, August 25, 2005

SPECIAL: Reflection

City Hippy launched in late Feb 2005 and the past six months have just flown by.

I started the site on my own but have had help from, and great conversations with, people from all over the world. Contributors, tipsters, commenters, fellow-blogs, friends and family etc. You know who you are and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. In fact if you are reading this then you are part of the collective. Thankyou! Travelling with you all on this greener path is a pleasure.

Well, not only is the City Hippy site six months old but today marks my 33rd year on this beautiful and delicate planet and so I have much planned for this weekend with family coming to visit and stay with us in our new house culminating with a big party with lots of family and friends on Sunday. Plus this is a holiday weekend in the UK with a day off on Monday so I will therefore have less time to devote to the site until next week.

It has been a wild ride and I have learnt so much.

In approximately three months time our first child will be healthily born, hopefully. I guess we are about to learn a hell of a lot more. Missus Hippy and I are just so excited and alive and the next six months promises to be an even wilder ride...and you have the best online seat in the house.

I am so proud of what we have achieved and I am really looking forward to a greener future.


City Hippy

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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

HEADS UP: Play Fair

Just a heads up about a really cool site and product.

Sports are big. Lots of people watch and lots of people play. It does not matter how good you are at Rugby or Football/Soccer you can always imagine yourself to be anyone you want: Jonah Lomu, David Beckham are just a day dream away as you head towards daylight and glory.

Now you can play ball in the knowledge that your entertainment was not provided by some nasty sweatshop full of exploited kids.

Fair Deal Trading offers footballs, rugby balls and volleyballs made to the highest fair trade standards.

Worth checking out. Worth encouraging. We want more Fair Trade choices and this is another great addition to the Fair Trade stable of products.



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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

NEWS: Coca-Cola Crapola

Coca-Cola seem to be misbehaving in India. Shameful behaviour if true involving apparent pollution of groundwater AND the passing of dangerous 'fertiliser' onto villagers.

I was just gonna bookmark this article but it deserves a bit more.

A while ago, as some of you will remember, I tried to overcome my addiction to Diet Coke. I found a substitute in the form of Whole Earth Organic Ginger Drink (no added sugar either). Note: the page does not load fully in Firefox but works in IE.

I must admit that I have lapsed occasionally due to my other addiction to Jack Daniels and Coke.

As a result of reading the article I have vowed to renew and even double my efforts to stop myself financially supporting a company I believe to be brazenly breaching many of the ethical and sustainable standards I set as targets for myself.

We should encourage Coca-Cola to behave more ethically towards people and planet.

KarmaBanque have a great site and a superb Coca-Cola boycott in motion to achieve just that. For more info please visit the Coca-Cola page at by clicking here.

We have a house-warming bbq on Sunday and so I will be drinking JD & Ginger! Bet it tastes sweeter!



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Monday, August 22, 2005


Just got this email from a City Hippy reader in Glasgow, Scotland:

Hey City Hippy,

Love the blog, long-time reader, first time emailer.

Read a post of yours recently, can't recall which, where you mentioned having 'a City Hippy moment'.

I had one this weekend and figured you and the other readers might like to hear about it. Upto you of course.

I had to fit some metal parts together and needed something to ease them in. My mind instantly thought of WD-40, the all-powerful lubricant. I knew I did not have any and considered diving out for some at a nearby shop which was less than a 5 minute drive away.

Then a 'City Hippy moment' struck.

I suddenly thought about the problem without instantly jumping to a conclusion. I knew I had no WD-40 and so I thought about alternatives that were readily available.

The answer was simple. Olive Oil. I knew I had some in the kitchen so I thought why not give it a go. And you know what? It worked just fine.

The parts slid together perfectly. No WD-40 required. No drive to the shops required. No money wasted on yet another needless chemical product. Made my day. My first 'City Hippy moment' felt great.

Hurrah! We so love getting these emails...a pat on the back and the knowledge that someone else out there is with us on our mission moving towards a more sustainable future.

We would love to hear about your City Hippy moments so send them in and we will publish them if we can.



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Monday, August 15, 2005

NEWS: Oil be damned!

Got an email today about an interesting poll being run by our friends at

Basically there is this concept called Peak Oil which refers to the fact that at some point the oil which our entire society relies on is going to start getting more difficult to locate and extract and therefore will become more and more expensive. That would obviously lead to significant consequences for any society addicted to oil.

Path To Freedom are running a survey about what you think about this issue on their site. Click here to take the survey...and when the results come out we will of course comment.



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Saturday, August 13, 2005

NEWS: Jeremy Clarkson is a genius

Jeremy Clarkson is a genius! Now I know what you are I talking about THE Jeremy Clarkson, "celebrity" presenter of UK T.V. show, Top Gear and enemy of the environment?

Or is there another Jeremy Clarkson to which I refer? Because surely I, City Hippy, do not support THE Jeremy Clarkson's thoughts and behaviour?

Well I do mean the Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear fame. And I will tell you why he is a Genius. This man is a Genius because he has fashioned himself a television career reviewing cars...brilliant...and he almost certainly gets paid more than I do! Very clever that Clarkson. He has got it made! I am not even going to attempt to address the editorial effect of any potential perks one might get in his position from the Car Manufacturing industry.

He is such a genius he has managed to rack up ANOTHER honorary degree. The first one was warranted for a T.V. show he participated in about engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel but this one is just plain wrong. And not because he is to the environment what Diarrhoea is to toilet paper. Sorry for the graphic imagery but he really is that evil in environmental terms! Possibly worse!

He is being given an honorary degree by Oxford Brookes University in the UK apparently for his 'enthusiasm and contribution to engineering and motor sports'. Seems like you don't have to do much to get an honorary degree from them.

Of course I don't really think he is a genius. In my humble opinion Clarkson is nothing more than a nature-trampling, motor-industry poster-boy. His own twisted logic leads him to conclude that:

To protect the environment I have to get rid of the environmentalists.

Even taken in full context of his entire article he is clearly generalising and mistaken. Read it...don't take my word for it!

Personally I think there are more worthy people to focus on...what about globally respected engineer Trevor Baylis, the inventor of the windup technology? Surely that warrants even more 'enthusiasm and contribution to engineering' although of course I don't think Trevor Baylis does much for motor sports. But surely such an ingenious contribution to the world as a wind-up radio and so on is more valuable than enthusiastic car reviews?

If you agree with me and over 2,400 other people (so far) then click here to sign the petition encouraging Oxford Brookes to think again.

Let's hear from Jeremy one more time...I am sure he would appreciate that:

If I’m turned down for the award, it won’t make any material difference to my life. But I refuse to remove my name because that would be yet another victory for environmentalism, which has given the world nothing, over engineering, which has given us everything.

See I told you the man was a genius!

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Friday, August 12, 2005

HELP: I need an ethical paper gift

A reader wrote to us today with an interesting request:

Dear City Hippy,

My first wedding anniversary is coming up, so I am looking for an ethical paper gift? Any ideas?



Oh yeah...lots of ideas! We were only to happy to help a fellow green and fair citizen of the world put his hard-earned money where his mouth is:

Hmmm...thats interesting...three varied price-range thoughts for you:

1) A tree planted certificate from:

UK - The Woodland Trust
USA - American Forests

2) An Ellie Poo writing set from The Green Stationery company - based in the UK but they will export small orders.

Ellie Poo Paper is manufactured from 75% post consumer waste and 25% elephant dung. The dung is collected by the elephant handlers in Sri Lanka and provides an extra source of income for the locals to care for the elephants. All treated and safe to use of course.

3) A Cardboard lamp from The Insight EcoStore (UK) again suspect they will deliver abroad.

All of these products were found using links from our bookmark collection - feel free to hunt for more.

Hope that helps

Well it did help and Jim got back to us saying:

Thank you City Hippy for your help and inspiration.

And now we feel very good about ourselves . Always a nice feeling to help someone out and in this case help us all by helping Jim make a greener purchase which of course benefits the whole planet of course.

Anyone else gotta question for us...go on...give the City Hippy a challenge. If we can't find doesn't exist!



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Thursday, August 11, 2005

CHAT: Have we got soul?

We have just been told about an interesting online chat taking place over at the Moving Ideas website.

The theme of the chat is the 'Soul of Environmentalism: Building Transformational Alliances in the 21st Century.'

There will be three experts taking questions live 'about strategies and the future of the environmental movement'.

Sounds interesting to us and we will of course try and be there if we can but if any of you get a chance to listen in or ask questions then please do let us know your thoughts and conclusions as a comment to this article. They maybe starting the chat but lets fan the flames and keep that fire burning!

The chat is scheduled to last from 1-4 EST (6-9 GMT I think) today and anyone can submit questions in advance or as the chat progresses.

The chat can be found here.



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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

NEWS: Stay at home for this March!

Have you heard about the STOP GLOBAL WARMING march on Washington? This is one march I do not encourage you to pack your bags and head off for. Why? Because you do not need to leave home to go on this's a virtual march and for a very obvious reason.

It would be ludicrously hypocritical to get people to burn fossil fuels by travelling to Washington for a march to stop global warming.

Anyone (even non-US residents) can join the ranks of the STOP GLOBAL WARMING campaign's virtual internet march on Washington by visiting and signing up via the City Hippy page. Am just curious to see how many people we can get to sign up. Tell your friends!

In fact tell everyone you know that if they care about the Global Warming/Climate Change issue, regardless of their political persuasion, then this is your big chance to tell the government to pay attention.

So far nearly 90,000 people across the US have joined up including some serious names from both sides of the political coin like Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) & Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) to name two and a few heavy duty celebs including Leonardo DiCaprio.

So...I am not asking you to trek to somewhere miles away...just click a few buttons...and make your voice heard!!!

Click here to join the march today!

Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money. ~ Cree Indian Proverb

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P.S. Just watched the Global Warning movie on Leo's ECO-SITE website...awesome movie...worth watching...very clear analysis about the problem. He was inspired by a book called:

The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight: Waking Up to Personal and Global Transformation
Thom Hartmann

I have just bought the book second hand via Amazon and will do a review when I have read it. If you want to buy it in the meantime then buy it via THIS link and help support the City Hippy site. Would love to hear your review of the book when you are done reading it. Thanks in advance.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

NEWS: I can see clearly now

We planned to have the windows washed today so we did some research during the week and found ourselves a window cleaner.

I then had a 'cityhippy' moment where I realised that the window cleaner would probably use chemical soap...and waste a lot of water. Bad and double bad!

I figured that if I could get them to use a greener soap then perhaps I could figure out a way to recycle the water instead of having to chuck it down the drain because of chemical soap pollution.

Lightbulb moment! If I could get them to use Ecover Washing Up Liquid instead I could then recycle the waste water after the windows were clean by using it to water the garden. Good and double good!

First I needed to make sure that the Ecover would not kill our garden. I thought it would be cool but wanted to check so I got in touch with them to find out and they replied:

The waste water is not harmful for your garden, however we recommend that if possible you leave the water to settle for 2 -3 days before use, as by this time the biodegradation process will already have started to take place.

Turns out the window cleaners just use pure water and no soap and no buckets...just very long brushes. So no nasty soap to worry about after all and all the water drained into our garden naturally. A perfect result! Hooray!

Still it is nice to know that Ecover cleans at apparently no expense to the environment and appears to be so eco-friendly that Ecover themselves are convinced that you could safely use their products waste water to water your garden without killing your plants. How cool is that!

If anyone gives it a go then let us know the result. Does it save or slaughter your shrubbery?

Well done Ecover! Now that's what I call green!



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Thursday, August 04, 2005

NEWS: Anyone for a piece of pie?

We all know the saying that there is always someone worse off than you. No matter how bad your problems seem in life...things could always be worse.

Well thanks to The Global Rich List I have discovered that my salary puts me in the top 0.887% of the world.

Next time I moan about how 'little' I earn I will give myself a mental slap. Whilst I earn an average wage for London clearly compared to those 5,946,728,125 less fortunate people than I around the world I am obviously not in a position to moan. Puts it all into perspective eh?

Anyone for a piece of humble pie? How far up The Global Rich List are you?


P.S. Thanks to Sustainability Zone for the link via Treehugger

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NEWS: Big up the Green blogs!

Lots of UK mainstream media coverage of the blogosphere going at the moment here and here.

Sadly not a single mention of one of the tons of well-established green blogs out there though. The green blogosphere is a very vibrant and productive contributor to the overall blogosphere and we are proud to connect with many of them - I recommend you check them out - they all offer something unique to aid your struggle towards a greener and fairer world:

Adventures in Ethical Consumerism

Alternative Energy

Alternative & Renewable Energy

Balogh Blog

The Blue Voice

Climate Change Chronicles

Common Ground



Environmental Economics


Ethical Tweaks

Fading Hope

Green Future

Green Thinkers

Greener Side

Grist Mill

Hippy Shopper


How To Go Green

How To Save The World For Free

Ideal Bite

Ivan Enviroman


Organic Matter

Out On The Limb

Path To Freedom

Quotidien Durable (French blog)

Real Climate >> Climate Science



Sustainability Zone

Sustainable Today

The Environment Site

The Oil Drum

The Small Environmentalist

Tree Hugger

Triple Pundit

Two Steps Forward: Joel Makower

World Changing

Know of any others? Let us know...

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NEWS: Limescale be gone!

Just moved into a new house and the kettle is all limescaled up. Yeuch. We instantly thought about getting some limescale cleaner to sort out the problem. There are some standard products that look very chemical. There are other greener options involving citric acid. We searched on Google and found a great tip on the Friends of the Earth site:

A mixture of water and distilled white vinegar boiled in a kettle will get rid of limescale as effectively as any chemical remover. To remove the unpleasant odour afterwards, boil fresh water in the kettle a few times. Let this water cool down and you can use it to water the plants.

Will give it a go and report back.

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Monday, August 01, 2005

FEATURE: Supermarket Secrets Finale

Here are my thoughts and summary of the second part of the superb UK Channel 4 Dispatches show 'Supermarket Secrets'.

Supermarkets know we care about the food we eat, about our environment and the processes and animals involved and about our health.

Supermarkets know what we eat and when we eat it. They track our consumption like you would not believe. They know we want green and fair produce.

They apply the minimum of effort with the most legally-permissible 'advertising'. The result is that the gap between what we think we buy and the reality is truly vast.

For all the Supermarkets 'meaningful intentions' the facts speak loudly. According to this Friends of the Earth 2003 study the supermarket code fails farmers as the farmers fear that by complaining about the supermarket pressure applied to them they face bankruptcy etc.

Tonights show showed some footage filmed by various animal rights groups. The most amazing thing was that in a duck farm (where ducks live out their entire lives in a shed - bet you thought you were buying ducks that lived on ponds eh?) a dead duck floated in a water trough.

Now if the place is that well managed who on earth would fail to notice that? Yes it could have fallen in just before the filming began. But what about the 14 dead ducks they filmed lying on the floor? The cynic will probably claim that the Animal Rights 'nutters' probably killed the ducks themselves. Absurd! Of course the footage was inadmissable as evidence in court. Obviously!

The RSPCA gives the Freedom Food stamp to inspected farms but the inspection regime seems to be as rigourous as an elastic band. What a waste of time and money! Clearly the inspections need more teeth and ferocity in order to be effective. I am sure the RSPCA would agree that more needs to be done. It is not their fault. They are a charity doing their best. A charity doing the governments job!

Ever noticed how the first aisle in a supermarket is the fresh fruit and vegetables? Makes sense if they want to project the image of a natural place to get your nutritional needs right?

The problem with supermarket fruit and veg is that all the stuff you see has won a beauty contest. I mean ok, no one wants to bite into a maggoty apple or a blighted potato but the supermarkets have just gone too far.

The average apple is photographed 72 times (!!!) by an image recognition system that started out in fighter jets. (HA!) The photos are computer analysed to weed out the blemished or mis-shapen fruit. Madness! Did we ever say all apples have to look the same? Did we ever say we had a problem with a bit of mud? Hell no! But conformity equals efficiency and that equals higher profit margins for you know who. So it suits the supermarkets and we put up with it.

Surely the cost of all that conformity, ie the wastage and chemical cost to the producer, the cost of moving produce around the world and the many costs to the environment ie farmers forced to use more pesticide than required to make sure that not a single aphid is left which would get their crate rejected, could be turned into savings passed onto the producer and the consumer? And all for a bit of mud and amusing shaped vegetables. Fine with me!

Upto an astonishing 30% of all fruit and veg is dumped on appearance alone. And millions continue to starve. I am not saying that we could ship all the excess to the starving masses...maybe we could...but the point is we are being inefficient and we the consumer, and the farmers, are picking up the tab. Truly insane!

Cosmetically perfect fruit and veg is often actually chemically more dangerous than processed babyfood. So whilst you might think weening on real fruit is healthier for the baby chances are you are wrong. Make sure it is organic!!!

Upto 40% of all organic fruit and veg (10% higher than normal) is rejected on appearance alone. The farmer pays the tab. That explains the higher cost then. As one organic potato farmer said put it 'I could produce more produce with lower waste and at a lower cost if people's obsession with the shape etc would end.'

The solution seems simple: shop more directly from now on. Seek out farm shops and farmers markets. Buy direct if you can. Check out Bigbarn if you live in the UK and LocalHarvest if you live in the US. Anyone know any similar sites for other countries?

Another farmer said that whilst he thought the fruit quality had improved (I imagine selective breeding will of course have that effect in the short term - see banana quote below) he was now totally dependent on the supermarkets. Crack pipe anyone?

Incidentally our obsession with Bananas is leading to the end of Bananas as we know them...I kid ye not! According to the magazine, Popular Science:

After 15,000 years of human cultivation, the banana is too perfect, lacking the genetic diversity that is key to species health. What can ail one banana can ail all. A fungus or bacterial disease that infects one plantation could march around the globe and destroy millions of bunches, leaving supermarket shelves empty.

We have less choice than ever before for example how many of these apples have you ever heard of at your supermarket?.

Since 1950 the average dairy cow yield has increased by more than 800%. How can that be good for cows or produce better milk? They use a technique now called 'zero-grazing' where the cows live in sheds all their lives (just like the ducks) and just get fed and milked. Lovely! Organic free-range cows for me please. At Christmas this year I shall be buying the most relaxed free-range organic corn-fed bird I can find. Of course going vegetarian would be even better. Have been there before and am slowly moving in that direction to be honest.

Food travels further than ever. This costs us an estimated £9billion a year in the UK. It is estimated that the average UK Sunday Roast Dinner (roast beef and all the trimmings for our non UK friends) travels 26,234 miles to get to your plate. The entire earth has a circumference of less than that at approximately 24,900 miles!!! Are we nuts?

For produce to travel better its production needs to be more tightly controlled to prevent spoilage. For produce to be more tightly controlled more and more chemicals are required for preservation, packaging and production.

For example, when you buy a bagged salad (which costs approx 3 times the price of fresh salad by the way - still that 30 seconds is worth it eh?) did you know it has a 'modified atmosphere' in the packaging to keep it fresh until you open that bag. That explains why it lasts about a day once you open it.

In Spain the produce looks more real and tastes a whole lot better too. They are obsessed with smell and feel whereas in the UK (and the US I suppose) looks are everything.

And as for the cost this show did a superb price comparison. And the result was that on fruit and veg the local small scale grocer came out on top. No huge overheads, packaging and marketing budgets...equals better value for all.

We are being ripped off and our health and environment is being compromised. We are paying for our own demise.

I will be buying as much unprocessed and organic produce as I can from now on, even more than usual. Cost is always a factor but where I can buy better I will.

But you know what, as with anything, you need to educate yourself. Don't take my word for it or the supermarkets word for it. This is just one man's opinion. Take it or leave it.

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Books by Authors featured in the show:
Shopped : The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets

Not on the Label : What Really Goes into the Food on Your Plate