Let me join Aaron in appreciation of the Central Market! It's the #1 place in Adelaide to take any American or English guest we have, usually introduced along the lines of 'just picking up a few things on the way home' with every intention of finding somewhere to have lunch or tea there.
I've particularly loved the gradual diversification of it over recent years as management has been proactive in bringing in a greater variety any time a stall becomes vacant. It's still great for basic fruit and veg, but the amount of duplication has been reduced somewhat.
RTT_Rules mentioned a while ago that he thinks everyone buys at their local supermarket on price alone - I don't think I agree with that.
A lot of people aren't well off enough to have the luxury of choosing.
I've heard that both Coles and Woolworths have started quietly removing the permanent 'down down' and 'price cut' tickets and are starting to raise prices on many of the basics, which means food is only going to get more bleak for people who rely on processed products and don't cook properly.
It would be great if there could be a re-think and modernisation of the Home Economics curriculum in schools to focus on teaching kids how to really cook for themselves using real ingredients rather than processed products.
I buy Aussie-grown tinned tomatoes rather than the Italian ones - I do this because I think our food standards are superior but also because I read an article a while ago about the treatment of people who pick tomatoes in Italy. There's really not a big difference in price anyway, especially if you buy the large tins and I think the quality is better. I don't always buy tinned tomatoes but if you're cooking with them and the fresh ones are out of season it's a better alternative.
I don't generally buy canned vegetables that often, but if I was to avoid
any particular source of canned vegetables due to labour practices, it would be Australian-sourced canned vegetables. I saw the Four Corners expose on the horrible labour practices at the large scale producers who supply the big brands and Coleworths.
I've followed up on this too, by writing to a bunch of the brands and informed them that I would be willing to buy their Australian-sourced products again if they commit to a labour standards certification scheme. I have little capacity to make any impact on practices in Italy or wherever else, but I can make a difference here.
With specific reference to canned tomatoes, I do my own and freeze them when tomatoes are in season. I'd like to be able to grow my own like Aaron, but have to settle for going to the markets instead due to lack of space.
But when the previous season's freezer stock runs out, I generally buy Italian sourced canned tomatoes - and usually from a brand only sold at Foodland. Tomatoes benefit more from better soil than better weather, so the Italian ones have a richer flavour and you can be sure they are up to standard as they have to exceed both domestic and Australian food standards to be sold here.
Sweetcorn is the opposite of tomatoes - weather makes more of a difference than soil so it's a crop which grows well in Australia, though Mexico has both.
One thing where Australian standards for canned vegetables should be tightened is in the proportion of vegetable pieces by mass. I've found that Australian-sourced canned tomatoes tend to have fewer tomatoes packed in each can, and you lose out twice as the rest is usually a watery gruel rather than a rich tomato paste.
Anyone else buy local when they don't have to? Interested to hear.
I buy milk from independent local companies (Paris Creek, Fleurieu Milk Company etc) but I can see why plenty of people might find that to be unaffordable. I'd rather go without milk than use the watery Coleworths labelled milk.
Apart from making it yourself with an espresso shot, milk and a scoop of Golden North honey ice cream, the best iced coffee available is Fleurieu Milk Company with just three ingredients - milk, coffee, sugar. You can get it at supermarkets all over the place and most non-chain cafes in SA, and there's a campaign to get it stocked at Adelaide Oval in place of the Barista Bros (a Coca Cola brand) one which is made using powdered milk.
I always buy pasta from one of only two sources: an independent stall at the Central Market or San Remo pasta, that's a decision based purely on quality.
I never buy Australian rice, it should be banned for (a) being bland, and (b) the horrendous water management practices in the areas it is grown. I generally use red rice (from an Asian grocer at the Central Market) or a 2:1 mix of red rice and black rice.
Australia’s (sometimes not entirely deserved) reputation for clean environment/produce will see our export produce market quite strong.
You might be surprised at the number of ‘chinese’ colleagues I have that bemoan the seeming lack anything but ‘made in China’ product here. Just last week a colleague from Shanghai was complaining that she almost had to buy a chinese made kettle.
That's not the first time I've heard that about the attitude of Chinese people towards consumer products.
The quality of consumer goods made in China, Thailand etc really depends on how well the factory operations are supervised by the Western companies running the show.
A good example is bicycles - I was in the market for a new commuter bike a few years back and went to the Giant Bicycles store in the city to look at a Giant bike which had decent specs on paper, with every intention of buying it and riding home if they had one in the correct size. But when I saw it in the flesh, I could see that the welding of the aluminium frame looked absolutely terrible and the spokes on the wheels had a strange twisted look to them, so I walked out of the store.
On the bus home, I saw an AvantiPlus store and thought I could do worse than having a quick look there before heading home to do more research online. Within an hour I was riding home on a Scott bike which had a better frameset and better equipment level than the Giant and wound up being a couple of percentage points cheaper.
Here's the interesting bit: both the Giant and the Scott were both made by Giant in Taiwan, quite possibly in the same factory. The difference is that when a Giant factory is doing a run of bikes for an external client there are technical reps all over the place keeping an eye on things, but they are only accountable to their own management when they are building bikes to be sold with their own label. It's a similar story at the Chinese/Taiwanese company Merida which makes bikes under both their own name and for other companies like Specialized and Cannondale.