In recent weeks, life has hit a hectic snag and unfortunately keeping up with my blog has dropped off the bottom of the to-do list; besides it has coincided with a serious case of ‘bloggers block’. Of course I know that you, my loyal followers will bore of the silence and move on to pastures new so I am really making an effort here.
I was prompted when reading a post from secretsofatrailingspouse The Cost of Living. It got me thinking about the cost of living in Australia compared to that of the UK but also some of the wonderful discoveries.
Ten years ago the ‘supermarket wars’ were relatively peaceful in Adelaide compared to the full scale military onslaught of the big UK supermarket chains; the loyalty cards, the ‘2 for 1’s, the buy 3 for 2, the discounts, the bulk buys all leaving the poor shopper bewildered by what really was a bargain or real deal. Here the local green-grocers, bakery, butchers and chemists all rub shoulders with the supermarkets providing a wider choice to us consumers. When I had some time on my hands I used to love pottering around these local shops taking time picking out the produce for the family’s weekly shop. Full-time employment means that I just want to get the shopping done as quickly and conveniently as possible so I tend to do it all in the same spot under one convenient supermarket roof. Offers have slowly appeared as Australian supermarkets follow the UK model but I’ll never be hooked in like I was there.
Bananas – Australian bananas are grown in north Queensland and shipped all over Australia providing the country with 95% of its bananas. The price fluctuates depending on the demand and season. When Cyclone Larry devastated the banana crops in 2006 – that was it – the end of bananas for months and months. There was such a shortage that they were selling for top dollar – AU$15 a kilo (that’s over 7.50 GBP by today’s exchange rate) Needless to say, we went without, or considered them a real treat. UK bananas come from anywhere supermarkets can lay their hands on them cheaply and cost about 89p a kilo.
Bread – still really expensive and even cheap sliced supermarket own brand is about AU$4 that’s over 2 GBP.
Books – a good old reliable paper bag was about AU$30 ten years ago when we could pick one up for 3 or 4 GBP in the UK. Luckily things have changed on this front now.
I’m not going to hark on for ages about how commodities are in general more expensive because when all things are considered, here in Australia wages are much higher than in the UK and the Aussie dollar seems to stretch just a bit further than I remember the UK pound doing – it’s swings and roundabouts as they say.
You can tell that some of the produce has benefited from the sunshine – I remember my amazement at the gigantic size of a head of celery; I had to chop it in half just to fit it in my slimline European fridge! Then there’s cauliflower which would comfortably feed a family of four – for a week! I’ve seen strawberries the size of apples and grapefruits the size of footballs that you need two hands to pick up and no, nothing loses its taste!
The influence of Asian food is far greater than I realised in Australia and at Adelaide Central Market (a visit is a must) you can find a wide selection of Asian fruit and vegetables together with plenty of Asian groceries in neighbouring China Town.
We are lucky and fortunate to live in this wonderful State with some of the best produce we’ve been priviliged enough to sample and for that I am truly grateful. What produce are you grateful to have on your doorstep?