It would have been easier to track down cheap strawberries at Wimbledon yesterday than find a pack of Little Salkeld Organic Granarius flour or a bottle of Bio-D washing-up liquid in London. Wholefood stores had either never heard of the products or stocked them infrequently.
At Freshlands in Old Street, classical music played as shoppers browsed around the softly-lit shelves stocked with additive-free groceries in minimal packaging. Most either had time on their hands or worked nearby and had nipped out at lunchtime.
Elaine Webb, 30, a solicitor, said she avoided products from companies with bad environmental records. 'I will buy household cleaning products which are chlorine-free. I don't mind putting in more elbow grease to use something milder,' she added.
A scientist who gave his name as Fred, said: 'If someone told me a company was environmentally unfriendly I would probably avoid buying anything from them. There's always the issue of how much time you have to spare, although I don't mind paying more for green products.'
Eva Hynes, 47, of Wimbledon, studying acupuncture, held a bag of sprouting beans as she said that she felt much healthier since switching to a macrobiotic diet 15 years ago. 'I try to buy things that haven't been tested on animals. I'll buy organic fruit and vegetables, and I always buy environmentally-friendly soaps and household cleaners with biodegradable packaging. I don't go to supermarkets because they don't sell what I want.'
Over at Safeway, health and value for money were the dominant concerns. Robin Langton, 21, a student, who had bottled beer and a French loaf made with bleached white flour, said that his purchases were determined by the convenient location of the store.
Brian Johnston, 34, a dance teacher, tried 'to shop with a conscience'. He went for low-fat milk, avoided buying tuna in case dolphins were killed in the nets, and boycotted South African products.