British Vs French Supermarket Stock
The majority of groceries, including meat, cheese, fruit, vegetables, honey, seafood and wine, are as locally sourced as possible in French supermarkets. This is why the fruit and vegetables on sale in supermarkets are generally only those that are in season. Obviously this does include things like Spanish oranges in December, and a few items, like lemons, which are made available all year round. Similarly, roquefort with an Appelataion d’Origine Contrôlée has to come from Roquefort, and cognac from Cognac, but fresh goat’s cheese or bottles of eau de vie will be locally sourced. Despite public demand, this simply doesn’t happen in UK supermarkets, where, even if an item is produced 5 miles from a Sainsbury’s store, it will get transported all over the country, to various distribution depots, before arriving 5 miles away from where it started.
However, there is a lack of clear labelling in France, which is sometimes worse than that in the UK. For example, a packet of pork chops will not tell you when, where or how the pig was reared or killed, what it was fed on, and what it’s living conditions were. Because I am cynical, this would indicate to me that the pig grew up on pellets and antibiotics, in a filthy concrete pen in eastern Europe. But this may not be the case; it could have grown up in similar conditions locally! However, the lack of demand in France for clear labelling illustrates a lack of demand for, for example, free-range pork, and so, whilst you may be more likely to be eating local meat, there isn’t the choice of different meat production methods that is on offer in British supermarkets. I get the impression that the French generally don’t entertain the idea that their country would have inferior meat products on sale.
At the butcher’s section on supermarket deli-counters in France, you can find details of an animal’s life, death and diet , just as you can in the UK. There is frequently information on the counter-top, about the animal below.
I just found a single packet of veal in ‘Carrefour’, Brive, that had “Born in Germany, raised in Germany, killed in the Pays Bas, butchered in the Pays Bas” printed on it! It was purporting to be special (which it may well have been), with a sticker of a gentle-looking leaf motif. But even if the calves had a long journey, at least we know!
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