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Minefield

Another article on my ethical money-saving challenge for 2007 - this time it's about grocery shopping. It's not as easy as it looks. Perhaps my good-shopping bible will help out...

Of course, the first dilemma is where to shop. Luckily, the guide is fairly decisive in this area and comes up with a few surprises. Sainsbury's is just as good a place to shop as the Co-Op (both scoring 79/100). I was surprised the Co-Op didn't fare better. ASDA (33/100) and Tesco (67/100) are listed as ones to avoid.

I'm glad I took the book to Sainsbury's with me. If I'd brought back what I thought were sensible purchases, I would have been disappointed when reading up on them later.

As an example, take something as simple as yoghurt. I used to buy Muller, but they only score 54/100 and are on the no-no list. You can't buy anything from Nestlé either, as they score just 42. There is a unified call for boycotting Nestlé products. Add to the fact that Danone, Actimel and the Weight Watchers brands are also on the "do not buy" list and you've eliminated about 90% of the aisle. It's a minefield. I eventually bought some made by Yeo Valley (scoring 83), but even they aren't free from criticism.

The book surprises again and again. For example, I didn't know that Green & Black's (Chocolate makers) are owned by Cadbury's Schweppes, so they don't score as well as they could. I found that my usual half-hour blitz around the supermarket doubled in length due to having to check and double-check each purchase. And then, it's a case of scrutinising your own moral code. Do you mind buying products from a company that has involvement with arms manufacturers or funds an oppressive regime in Burma? There will be some things you'll feel passionate about, some not. Maybe it's animal rights, nuclear power or environmental issues? The list goes on.

Let's not forget the fact that sometime during this visit, I was also trying to save money.

I guess the thing about this is that it was my first weekly-shop under my new regime and as a consequence it was going to take more time. Eventually, I'll build up the knowledge of the good and bad stuff, allowing me to quickly zip down the aisles in the same manner as before.

In the end, though, I felt I did well, managing to save £7.57 versus my regular shopping bill, partially due to my eagle eyes keeping a look out for the little yellow "reduced" stickers. There's hope yet.

Note: I know, I've quoted some scores from the book. Don't sue me. That would just be ironic.
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