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Date: November 2002

Good Shopping Guide

The Good Shopping Guide. Ethical Marketing Group

'Our increasingly exotic tastes could be causing horrendous and fairly pointless pollution of the globe.'

The newly published Good Shopping Guide is the world’s first comprehensive ethical reference guide to clearly list the behaviour of the companies behind everyday consumer brands.

You can read the surefish review of the Good Shopping Guide elsewhere on the site.

You can also find out what the Good shopping Guide says about perfumes and aftershaves.

And here’s what it says about toys.

And here’s the lowdown on TV's, videos and computers.

To buy your copy of the book from Christian Aid simply call: 020 7523 2229

Here’s what the Good Shopping Guide says about…

Beer, lager and cider
The big brewers may all be thinking globally these days but seasoned drinkers usually prefer their local brews when they can find them. Where the big companies often win is by persuading us that a ‘local’ brew from far away contains something special or unique – hence the successes of brews from Mexico, South Africa, India and Thailand.

Below the cover the big companies with nationwide brands of bitter, lager stout or cider. The table indicates the ownership of the draught brands – which might not be the same as that of bottles and cans of the same brand.

How many miles
Our increasingly exotic tastes could be causing horrendous and fairly pointless pollution of the globe. Ingredients for a real ale from a local brewery might have travelled about 600 miles in all, which might seem far enough, but for some imported lagers produced by the multinationals the ingredients can travel as many as 24,000 miles. There may be some consolation in the fact that many of the so-called ‘export’ or ‘continental’ lagers are really brewed under licence in the UK, but there is ever more beer moving across European borders these days.

What's in the stuff?
Conventional hop farming uses a lot of pesticides – which results in what the pressure group Sustain describes as ‘scorched earth’ farming methods, where the ground between and beneath the hops is kept barren and dusty. Organic farming methods use mustard mixed with hops to attract predators and combat aphid attacks.

Traditionally, the barley for malting has come from the highest-quality spring crops but recently there has been massive development of new winter barley varieties, on which farmers use almost double the number of pesticides. These changes, and the decrease in planting of summer barley, have badly damaged bird populations.

Under current UK legislation, drinks containing over 1.2 percent alcohol are exempt from the compulsory labelling applicable to other products for consumption. This means that brewers don’t tell us when they use chemical additives, as many do to increase the shelf life of the beer or to alter the colour or flavour of the brew. The lack of mandatory labelling causes problems for vegetarians, as most beers do still use animal-derived products.

Organic options
Organic beers have begun to take off although there are real problems finding organic hops – the main source of supply being far-off New Zealand! Organic production of hops in the UK is not only possible but also potentially highly profitable.

Brewing your own beer can potentially give you control over many elements of the brewing process. There are no UK homebrew suppliers currently stocking organic hops, however, these are available by mail order from the US ( While this increases beer miles, the weight of the product is only around 3lbs. Online brewing classes are now available on the web ( with lots of the information you need, from the best equipment to bottling the finished product.

One for the road
The legal driving alcohol limit in the UK is 80mg%, compared with 50mg% in most of Europe and 20mg% in Sweden.

Although the alcohol affects all drivers, accident rates for young people double after only two drinks and increase tenfold after five drinks.

Good Shopping Guide ratings

Top rating:
• Dry Blackthorn
Holsten Pils
Old Speckled Hen
Wadworth’s 6x

Middle rating:
• Carling
John Smiths

Bottom rating:
• Beck’s
Stella Artois

Basic drinking ethics
Don’t let ethics spoil your fun……
…but you really should never drink then drive.
Try to support the local pubs that stock local brews.
Cans are best for drinking outdoors – and bottles are best at home.
When drinking out anywhere, always remove your empties.

To see how the Good Shopping Guide reached these conclusions, you’ll have to buy the book, which is available from Christian Aid by calling 020 7523 2229