Category Archives: Groceries

Supermarkets and their supplies: food, veggies, …


As Van Badham wrote this week, the people who have gone plastic free have all had some breaking point. After months of trying to be mindful of our plastic use, but accepting that for some things, it was inescapable, I was finally pushed to the edge by an article which reported that micro-plastic had been found in ice in the Arctic. THE ARCTIC. That, and finally internalising that recycling isn’t really a thing – it is just a distraction from solving the real problem of masses and masses of plastic that doesn’t need to be made.

So, now our household doesn’t get to eat strawberries, or blueberries, because of the little plastic punnets that they come in.[Update: now growing our own plants] Polyester is out, natural fibres, bamboo in particular is in. Milk in plastic bottles is out, waxed cardboard is in. The roll of Glad wrap that we have in the drawer is the last one I’ll ever buy, ditto for the garbage bin liners. Pasta in a plastic package is out, cardboard boxes are in.

Lush have a good range of solid shampoos (this one is particularly good – makes my hair fresh, and scalp non-itchy), and I’ll try their face-wash this week.

I’m struggling with inescapables: toothpaste, medicine, bread and cheese packaging.

I know on some level that our small family isn’t going to make a huge amount of difference in the scheme of things. There is already too much plastic. Some companies are trying to do the right thing, by offering corn-based plastics, but, it seems like there are a lot of problems with that too.

Anyway, we will continue to minimise our plastic waste, and, in doing so, we get to create a whole new category of complaint letters – emails to companies to complain about their plastic use.

Here is our first, probably of many, to Carman’s. Well, many emails in general, not specifically to Carman’s.

Continue reading Plastic

Tip Top’s Grab and Go are, unfortunately, not Hot Cross Buns

Dear Sir/Madam,

Please put more spice into your “Grab and Go” breakfast rolls.

For years I’ve thought that a bread company such as yourselves should make hot cross buns all year round, but without the cross of course, since it might upset a few people.

Anyway – I thought that you had at last done this. They look like hotcross buns, without the cross of course. Imagine my disappointment when eating one just then (as my afternoon snack, not breakfast, though I don’t think that this would change the flavour), to discover that they are just a sweet bread with fruit. No spice.

Please reconsider putting spice in. Everyone has forgotten about Easter for the year. And then just add sneaky crosses to the same recipe next year, and charge extra for them.

Thank you for taking my concerns with the upmost seriousness that they deserve,

Yours sincerely,

Jenny Cuthbert Esq.

Woolworths: Fishy, but Promptly Corrected

Dear sir or madam,

Please check your “fresh” fish.

At the end of a long day, and having the rest of the needed ingredients, I decided that I fancied home-made sushi. All that was missing was a couple of nice salmon fillets.

I went to the fresh seafood section of my local Woolworths, at Wolli Creek, and was served by a very amiable clerk who selected for me two fillets of what appeared to be the best salmon on display (or at least, the most expensive).

Back home, as I was readying the fillets to be assembled into tasty bite-sized rice delicacies, I noticed an unusually strong fishy smell emanating from the freshly-bought fish. A further taste-test confirmed my suspicions: both fillets, though labelled as fresh in the store, were clearly past their due date.

Beyond the $12.99 paid for the 400-odd grams of fish, I let you imagine my deception, contemplating a fish-less sushi meal, which was only saved with a random steak and a quickly created teriaki sauce.

A reply email came the next day.

Dear O.

At Woolworths Supermarkets we have a huge selection of brands you know and trust.

The quality and integrity of our products is of utmost importance to us and if you are not completely satisfied, we will cheerfully refund the purchase price and exchange the item as part of our Fresh and Free Guarantee.

Please take your item packaging back Salmon Portions Sknd Boned Fresh x2 which you purchased for $12.99 to your local store and the customer service team will be more than happy to look after you. This way we can investigate the batch for future reference, If you have any further queries please feel free to contact Juliana the store manager on (02) 8035 9281 to discuss the matter further.

If you no longer have your receipt of purchase, please take this letter with you as proof of purchase.

We appreciate your feedback and we thank you for shopping at Woolworths.

Yours faithfully,

Woolworths Customer Service Team

And indeed, next time I went to Woolworths, the attendant happily offered a refund. The easiest was to add this as a discount on other purchases, so I bought a few needed items. They also offered to replace the fish itself at no cost, but the sushi opportunity was past, so I didn’t get it.

I’d hope to see such very decent customer service more often.

More Fruit Juice Problems

Dear Sir,

Please ensure that you have somebody from your company taste the drinks before releasing them for sale to the public.

While I was shopping this afternoon, I became rather thirsty. I discovered your drink at the checkout, and thought that it sounded delicious. It was a tiny bit pricey ($3.50) but being of the Goulburn Valley brand, I trusted that it would be of good quality.

You can imagine how disappointed I was upon tasting it to discover that it tasted like a drink bottle that had previously had fruit juice in it, and was then topped up later with water, giving the water a slightly fruity taste from the residue.

Yours etcetera,

J. Cuthbert

On Grove’s “Only Fruit” Orange juice

Dear Sir/Madam,

Please be aware that your product name “Only Fruit” is terribly misleading.

I got a 500ml bottle of “Premium” Orange juice home, opened it, and was instantly disappointed by the taste, which was similar to a watered down version of McDonalds orange juice.

I checked the ingredients to find out why the juice was so, and not only discovered that you use reconstituted juice in something that is supposed to be premium, but you also have put preservatives in there!

Yours etcetera,

J. Cuthbert

On Coles’ home branded “Dijon Mustard”

Subject: Re: Your offer for a refund in case of unsatisfactory product

Sir or madam,

This letter follows the offer that I found on a mustard jar that I bought last week from the Coles Supermarket in the Broadway Shopping Center in Sydney. It stated that a full refund would be provided in case I wasn’t satisfied by this product. Unfortunately, I can’t say I am, and would like to claim this refund.

The jar was labelled Dijon Mustard (ref. DA0609). As an expatriated Frenchman, I’ve learnt since my childhood to appreciate mustard coming from Burgundy. I am afraid the content of this jar only remotely approximates this taste. It is far too sweet.

I have to admit that I’ve learnt not to expect “decent” Dijon mustard abroad except if imported from France. That’s fine. The label on your product however really got my hopes up. I let you imagine my deception when it bailed on my delicious roast.

Unfortunately, I haven’t kept the receipt for this purchase, but I remember the date and the place (both mentionned above), which I guess should be sufficient to determine the price I paid. I’m happy to return the barely-touched jar to the shop, were you to require it for inspection.

I regularly shop at Coles and have come to recognize the Coles brand as a sign of quality and honest pricing. I’m sure you’ll be able to correct this little oversight. If I may, I’d like to suggest that you rename this product to something less misleading (e.g. “Dijon-style Mustard”), or maybe adapt the recipe to more closely match the “Dijon taste”. Additionaly, I’m sure it would please a lot of your mustard-loving customers if you stocked some jars of the Dijona brand (the big ones, please!) which is a low-priced but good-quality export mustard from France.

Hoping you can process this refund and that my suggestions were of interest to you, I thank you for your attention.

Check Your Chicken!

Dear Sirs,

Please check your chicken!

It has been on three different occasions that I have inadvertently bought chicken that was on the turn from the supermarket.

On the turn to what you ask? Possibly towards becoming a zombie chicken wing, but more likely on its way to becoming some sort of primordial slime that one finds at the bottom of the refrigerator.

On one of these occasions,we had planned to make a chicken casserole that evening, so took the chicken back to your store to exchange it. The girl at the checkout looked rather doubtful as we explained our problem. She soon gave us the word to exchange the chicken, after smelling the package. You could tell by the look on her face that she was horrified by the smell, but couldn´t say much because of company loyalty and such. Anyway, we went to find some new chicken, but it was ALL on the turn. Our chicken casserole had become a casserole with no chicken. The humanity.

Due to this, I have lost my trust that I will be buying fresh chicken from the store, and have to look like a weirdo smelling each package before putting it into my basket. This on top of the fruit and vegetable squeezing makes me feel like my grandmother.

Yours et cetera,

J. Cuthbert Esq.