Sunday, 29 July 2007

A Letter to Loblaws (Zehrs)

Dear Loblaws;

I have been shopping pretty regularly at Zehrs stores in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge for over 10 years. I've never loved the experience, but it's generally been okay.

About three or four days ago I went to what has been my regular Zehrs. I picked up a few items in my cart, got very frustrated trying to find other items, and ended up putting everything back and walking out. I don't think I've ever done that before.

I went to another grocery store, which I found suited my needs much better and was considerably cheaper to boot. I'll be doing a lot more of my shopping there. I won't give up on Zehrs entirely; if only because I do my banking there.

So what was the problem here? The problem was finding Ontario-grown produce. Zehrs has always been pretty terrible on the local-produce front, especially considering that it is in the middle of Ontario's prime growing territory. But this was pathetic, just pathetic. People; it's July. JULY. Ontario is bursting with local produce. Where the hell is it?

And now I read in the Globe and Mail and confirm on your web-site that

"At Loblaws we're avid supporters of Ontario grown produce! You'll find that our stores overflow with a huge selection of farm-fresh produce. The vibrant colours, freshness of the selection and mouthwatering taste pops during peak season. We work closely with our farmers in maintaining our high standards of excellence to ensure that you get the freshest and most flavourful fruits and vegetables possible. We're committed to this relationship - to you our customer and to our farmers!"

In the immortal words of Miss Manners: you are gravely mistaken.

I'd love to think you are about to turn over a new leaf, and that this reflects the future about to come. Because it sure doesn't reflect what I've seen over the past 10 years or so. If it wasn't for the fact that I can get most of my vegetables and meat at farmers' markets in this area, I would have found Zehr's to be a completely inadequate place to shop.

I guess I had intended to stew quietly about this, but the difference between the rhetoric and reality has pushed me to email this to you.



p.s. I will be posting a copy of this letter at my food-blog, under my nom-de-blog.

You may wish to check there for other peoples' comments.


Peter M said...

Ferdzy, I've found our local markets to have both local and imported. I hope the situation changes there.

Dayna said...

Thank you, thank you for writing something like this. It's something I've often felt yet never got off my cart to send. I am a farmer's market frequenter and it just appalls me that our own "home grown" grocery outlets can't support the farmers that keep us all sustained - in the middle of our growing season.
It's sad and pathetic to see what the world has come to when a store is surrounded by a piece of farmland yet a grocer still buys wholesale from Mexico or beyond just because it's "cheaper". (BUT I'll save my opinions on that exploitation for a whole other soap box...)

Krista said...

Thank you. I couldn't agree more. I go to Loblaws for some staples, but my visits have become fewer and fewer over the past five or seven years as I can barely bear to contemplate their produce (in the summer, of course).