Disadvantages of supermarket shopping

THERE is only one advantage to supermarket shopping and that is convenience. For that reason you may occasionally spot me in Waitrose buying something I can't get in a local shop.

There are many disadvantages though.

1) They are more expensive, contrary to their claims. A local price comparison recently carried out proves that Tesco fruit, veg and meat is more expensive than buying from local suppliers. Supermarkets advertise some attractively cheap products: they are known as 'loss leaders'. This is to give you the false impression that all their products are cheap, and encourage you to do all your shopping there.

2) Destruction of local retail networks. Small businesses employ more people than supermarkets. Tesco takes up 75 per cent of Lewes retail but probably employs less than 5 per cent of the Lewes retail workforce.

Increasing Tesco's size reduces Lewes job opportunities.

3) Loss of money from the local economy. Supermarkets make a lot of money - billions go into the pockets of their top management and shareholders. But they make money disappear as well - out of local communities. Shop local not in supermarkets and keep money in the local economy.

4) Lack of resilience. Supermarkets are vulnerable to economic instability and, like banks and other large businesses, could easily collapse. Let's make sure we have enough local growers and suppliers for when that happens.

5) Supermarkets depend on the availability of cheap imports which often involve exploitation of people and land overseas. For example some vegetables grown for Tesco use up so much ground water that there is not enough left for Africans to grow their own food.

6) Carbon footprint. Supermarket trucks account for 40 per cent of UK road freight. By buying only local, organic, unprocessed food we could reduce carbon emissions from our food by three-quarters.

Dirk Campbell, Lewes