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Can we stop pretending Lidl and budget supermarkets are decent?
What happened to the British? I feel the urge to inject some honesty into this myth.
We like to pretend we're a nation of high quality manufacturers, but let's face it, we don't make things anymore, and when we last had companies that did they were a laughing stock of the world (British Leyland's bus-into-a-train hybrid - the dreaded Pacer, for example, while Japan had the Bullet train a few decades earlier), Sinclair, anything by 'out the back of a van' Amstrad - you get the idea.
Sure, we led the world once, but we won the World Cup once, too. Now, we're a lap-dog economy that sold off every successful brand to the foreign investment company with the highest bid. Short term gain, something our governments seem to like. 'Get rich quick' (and do a runner before the fall out).
With Morrisons, once a great British northern institution about to sell out to a foreign property tycoon asset stripper (oops, I mean, investor), it made me reflect on the seemingly unstoppable rise of the 'discounters', Aldi and especially - for the sake of this gripe - Lidl.
For years I've been bombarded with news stories (yes, this constitutes 'news') claiming that Lidl is the pinnacle of everything, all at incredible prices.
Honesty, please. It never was, and it isn't.
How can people who actually eat normal food (not ready meals with salt contents which don't even seem legal) call this a quality shop? Is food just something to put down a pipe - do these people have taste buds?
Lidl really isn't any kind of saviour, or anything to savour. It's a race to the bottom, with added dustings of mould on the fruit and veg. If it isn't an additive-sugar-laden junk food or ready meal, it probably only got shelf space because it's going off.
Middle isles which - aside from the odd genuine bargain - are banks of throwaway plastic junk from China (coming to clog an ocean near you soon), 'fresh produce' pre-composted for your bin, which cannily has no expiry date, isle upon isle of off-brand fizzy drinks, stodgy yoghurt and flavourless 'looks-like-the-real-thing' wonders galore.
Is this really what the British have sunk to? Quantity over quality, junk on an American scale, all the while making foreign companies (Germans having their revenge here?) richer?
All the while we moan about how our high streets are just charity shops and overpriced coffee chains, as we abandon the local greengrocer, baker, butcher, farmer for this mediocrity?
Even Tesco, Sainsburys and our vastly superior homegrown supermarkets are now 'too expensive' compared to these mythical Germans with their overworked staff and filthy tills, because - if we judge our country by what we eat and, by extension, how we value ourselves, quality is no longer a British trait.
You are what you eat!
Footnote: I hate to be so negative to Lidl, as if it's a personal vendetta (it really isn't - I'm not bitter about the rotten fruit and veg, promise), because it's an okay place to pick up milk and basics and the odd branded staple, and sometimes the middle isle throws up a genuine bargain, but I'm disillusioned by how we've just accepted crap (and the bulk of its food is), instead of forced companies to do better. Is this how we really value ourselves and society?