Saturday, April 05, 2014

The Coconut Farmers of Aldershot

I promise I had a good reason to be in Aldershot, the steaming jewel of north Hampshire. But soon enough, I found myself in the town's new Morrisons supermarket on a quest for cake.

My attention, however, was drawn away from my chocolate-flavoured quest, when my attention was drawn to this little display in the fruit and veg aisle.

Now, global warming's one thing, but I never thought there could be coconut farms in Aldershot, even with acre upon acre of unused military land in the district housing god-knows-what secrets from the general public. 

Or maybe - it was suggested by minds far sharper than mine - they send their staff out to local funfairs with instructions not to return until they have completely defeated the coconut shy.

So I asked them.

"Hey @Morrisons," I said on the Twitters, "Are coconuts *really* local to Aldershot? (I'd love the answer to be 'yes')", a question that was picked up and run with by the Twitterati.

After a respectable pause came a simple reply:


It appears that there are no coconut farmers in Aldershot. Not even further afield, like Farnborough or (at a push) Hook. It's watercress country by the time you reach Alton, so that's out of the question too.

I think somebody might have been using a bit of the old exaggeration on the shop floor.

And here comes the serious part. It's one thing to say that a product is locally sourced or locally grown, because people car about food miles. Why buy apples from South Africa, when equally good fruit is available from UK farmers? I want to buy local, and that means not being misled by tricky promotion.

So, to claim that coconuts are "Locally supplied" is disingenuous in the extreme, and a bit of a naughty use of what we in the journalistic trade term "weasel words".

Morrisons own website - by the way - suggests that their coconuts are sourced from India, over 4,000 miles by air. Unless they have a deal with migrating swallows, that's not locally supplied by any means.

Yeah, "Oops".

Bad supermarket. Bad.


Anonymous said...

In Morrisons' defence, they do say "locally supplied" not "locally grown". The Independant Wholesaler sources them from the Raj where they are manufactured in palmy sweatshops by indentured children and then supplies them to Morrisons.

Kaptain_Von said...

Honestly! What kind of idiot thinks that coconuts are local to Aldershot? Aldershot is Mango country as any fule kno.

TRT said...

Flown in to Farnborough.

Unknown said...

It's because people "car about" shopping that the food miles rack up

Paul Martin said...

Down here in the balmy fields of Bordon, we are growing organic Lidl plastic bags on trees.

And dog egg plants in hedgerows.

Oh, and don't forget the naturally occurring lemonade pools down in the ally ways, which percolate up from the rocky depths beneath.