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The shopping revolution

The Culinary Caveman on what really happened to our shopping habits in lockdown
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
The shopping revolution

This article first appeared in our Ethical Shopping issue of My Green Pod Magazine, distributed with The Guardian on 30 October 2020. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

Over the last four years I’ve been writing a book on the seven plants that could catalyse a systemic revolution.

Incredibly, the biggest hurdle it presents is not around the revolution itself or how the plants could be instrumental in it: it is the public change of mind that would be required to accept it.

Out with the old…

In accepting the new there must be a rejection of the old, and humans have a tendency to cling on to memories of how things used to be.

This all changed with the lockdown; everyone in the world experienced change for themselves – the same change, at the same time, all over the globe. It might not have been the change we expected or hoped for, but it proved we are capable of doing things differently.

Until very recently, talk of a ‘shopping revolution’ brought to mind a change in purchasing patterns caused by conscious consumerism.

The idea was that we’d grow tired of big chains and instead spend our money at farmers’ markets and local craft fairs. The high street would be regenerated and we’d see the return of the butcher, the baker – perhaps not a candlestick maker, but definitely a greengrocer.

Instead, the shopping revolution has taken place without us noticing; we haven’t needed to do anything more than click ‘Buy’.

Online shopping has become the norm and the giants in this sector have reaped the rewards. Many of the shops that didn’t have an online presence prior to lockdown have suffered great losses or gone out of business.

‘…the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love.’


A revolution of empowerment

I can’t speak for everyone as I’ve always been in a bubble, but the shopping revolution that I experienced this year has been one of not going shopping. What I have been doing is growing chemical-free, better-than-organic vegetables for my family and friends.

We’ve also starting making litres of freshly pressed juices from foraged and gifted fruit, which has made us question the legitimacy of the ‘fresh’ juices in the chilled section of the supermarket.

We’ve made jars and jars of jams, jellies and chutneys; making these homemade treats has been fun for the whole family, and to us they taste so much better than anything available in the shops.

For me, the lockdown has initiated a shopping revolution that has stopped me from shopping, encouraged me to question every purchase and made me get more creative.

Foraged solutions

To say the revolution has been a switch to online shopping doesn’t feel right. The real revolution has been this empowerment and call to action.

I can see many around me have also baulked at the online solution and got inventive themselves, producing artistic wonders from gardens, allotments and outhouses.

Clothing, food, music and pictures have been made from foraged plants ranging from nettles to rosebay willowherb – I’ve even seen a cute, tiny bag made from dandelion stems.

Shopping online is not the revolution – it is what is being bought and sold that better indicates a revolution is taking place.

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