Our local Morrisons has just had a bit of a refit. Now it sports a new florist area, children’s clothes, a pharmacy and a shiny new market street with loads of veg, a greengrocer area, a deli area, a butchers area and a bakery. I was a bit gobsmacked when I went in to see veg that is now kept on iced compartments to keep nice and fresh. There was asparagus standing on their ends in a tray of ice cold water. Lots of “ethnic” veg including Chinese, Thai and Indian ingredients that I find hard to source in Livingston.
Each area had useful information which had me loitering around for ages. I swear to god, I could have stayed all day reading about different types of lettuce, aubergine, cauliflower (including the oh so pretty Romanesco) It’s not all veg either, there was lots of fruits including quite a few varieties of apples, some fresh coconuts (cocktail anyone?), and loads of strange looking fruits.
Some of the stuff on display was not fresh. They did the refit over a long weekend, and had obviously just put out old veg. However, I hope this is because they hadn’t managed to get fresh stocks in for the reopen rather than a trend. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, like their meat and fish, you could see a label telling you who a grower was and when an item was picked.
Whatever your thoughts might be about big chain supermarkets killing the local independent high street retailers, I am glad that I no longer have to go over to Edinburgh as often to stock up. The question is are there enough foodies in Livingston and the surrounding areas to sustain the level of variety the store has? Livingston farmers’ market failed – however, it was placed next to the massive shopping mall where shoppers are more interested in clothes and other non-food items. Another question is whether the store staff have the expertise that the independent florist, grocer, baker, and butcher had in terms of handling stock and advising customers on how to use it – sadly I think the answer is going to be “No” – as nice as the staff are, they aren’t going to spend the time the old independents did in building customer relationships and pride in their produce.
Anyhoo, I walked away with some bitter gourd (keralas), cassava (mogo) and Sicilian aubergine. I’ll be covering the latter two in my next posts.