Where do you buy your groceries in Antwerp?
This blog post is about two different types of grocery shopping in the city, and will be of interest to you if you are keen to reduce your carbon footprint when you make your shopping choices.
By Vasco, Charlotte, Hendrik, Yumiko and Michelle
Antwerp International School Grade 10 students went on a trip on Wednesday the 8th of January by train to the BeO Versmarkt and a Delhaize grocery store to contrast and compare them with one another: to study the pros and cons of both stores, and to also get a better understanding and learn new things based on what it’s like to shop in them. In this blog post, we will focus on the differences and similarities in looks, packaging, prices, and transport to, later on, conclude and give advice for more sustainable meal preparation. We are studying a sustainability unit in our language classes so this experience connects to that topic.
When we first walked into the BeO store (image left), it was noticeably different from the grocery stores we are used to. It was refreshing not walking into a store where you have to walk around for hours before finding the thing you were looking for. The store was really organized compared to normal grocery stores, partially due to the fact that there weren’t as many products and as big of a range of brands. The store wasn’t as big as Delhaize (grocery store) so there weren’t as many staff working, but that was no problem because it was easy to find staff if you needed help. the fact that almost nothing was wrapped in plastic and the food looked different from the processed food we are used to eating was a real eye-opener. You could tell that the food was organic by the way it was clearly not meant to look ‘perfect’, but instead looked like it came fresh from the farm. The boxes that the food was placed in indicate where the food came from blue if the food was Belgian-made and in a different box with the name of the country on the label if it wasn’t domestic. But still, 90% of the non-Belgian-made products were produced in Europe.
One of the bigger differences were the packaging: for the Beo store there were containers filled up with all kinds of nuts, seeds, grains, dried fruits, spices, and pasta but for the Delhaize store they were all in plastic bags. Which after visiting the Delhaize store seemed very unnecessary, as so many plastics were being used for proportions not everyone wants. The BeO store had an amazing self-service system, you could bring your own glass containers or buy one in the store and fill it up with oil, vinegar or honey. This way you don’t spend money on the extra packaging while also being sustainable. A lot of other products also had a self-service system, such as nuts, pasta, and seeds. It was a really innovative system, you can buy as much as you need and not waste any food.
We did pricing exercises for similar products in both the BEO V and the Delhaize. The products we’ve compared are simple and well-known, such as red tomatoes and eggs. We saw a big price difference between the tomatoes. The tomatoes in the BEO cost € 3.45/kg, which is € 1.14 more expensive than a kg of tomatoes in the Delhaize, which cost € 2.59 (pic left, by Charlotte). There is a big difference in price between tomatoes, but luckily it’s not the same for the eggs. A box of 6 eggs in the BEO cost € 2.28 as you can get the same amount in the Delhaize for € 2.35, that’s € 0.07 cheaper. So, the idea that eco-shops are always more expensive than regular ones is not true.
In the picture you can see both the difference between the tomatoes in the Delhaize and in the Beo store.
Did you know that food production is one of the main causes of CO2 releases in the world?
Most eco-friendly stores are spread out around the country than the normal stores. The number of eco-friendly shops is significantly smaller compared to the average supermarket. All these factors lead to fewer people going to these shops and when they go they might need to travel longer distances which produces more CO2 pollution.
If there is not an eco-friendly shop near you, you could go to the Exotic Market that opens on Saturdays from 8AM to 4PM in Theaterplein which offers natural products from nearby farms. The products in this market can sometimes be cheaper than in the eco-friendly store. All this contributes to not polluting our environment because the products don’t travel long distances and the customers that use that market can bike there.
We concluded that the Beo shop that we visited is more eco-friendly than the Delhaize; a regular supermarket. For some people, it might not be the most convenient for them, since it can take more time, money and transport to get to the few environmental stores depending on where you live in Antwerp. However, despite the challenges, a suggestion from us would be to do your groceries on a Saturday. You could look up ways on how to store and keep your products fresh for the week. You can prepare your meals so you don’t have to worry about having food on the table during weekdays. Also, you don’t have to do all your grocery shopping at an organic store, but every little step helps!
Could you take the time to make your shopping more eco-friendly?
Let us know in the comments!
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