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where does it come from?

We buy our produce from farmers and growers located locally, and we are proud to know the provenance of everything we sell. The bulk of our market-fresh produce comes direct from Australian farmers and growers who supply Sydney Markets. We deal with wholesalers we know and trust, and we have been doing so for over 10 years.

Our dried goods are sourced from a wider area as there are some things that are grown in a more sustainable manner overseas – our rice, for example, comes from Pakistan, while our sugars are sourced from farmers’ co-ops in Guatemala and Costa Rica – and come with all the relevant certifications.

the ethical grocer believes in sustaining communities and job security, hence it’s commitment to fair trade practices, and other things just come from overseas because they offer the most sustainable and affordable organic option, like dates and olive oil.

what’s organic?

Everything on our dried goods list is organic unless stated.

Everything on our dried goods list is organic unless stated. A couple of items are listed as ‘organic in conversion’; this means it was grown without chemicals but has yet to gain certification.

In order to be awarded organic certification a grower needs to prove that their soil is naked, or free of chemicals, for seven consecutive years. Farmers that are ‘organic in conversion’ have started this process and have been tested clean for at least a year.

Organic farming generally features cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster the recycling of resources, that promote an ecological balance and that preserve biodiversity in the soil. Most importantly, organic produce is devoid of synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilisers, and has not been processed using irradiation, industrial solvents or unnecessary synthetic food additives.

To be certified organic, products must be grown and manufactured in a manner that adheres to standards set by the country they are sold in. In Australia, there are a number of certifying bodies, some more reputable than others.

Many of the ethical grocer‘s suppliers are just as concerned as us regarding the reliability of organic certification. the ethical grocer regularly sources food from Honest to Goodness, Eco Farms, Sacred Grounds and Demeter Mills. Each country that we source groceries from has an organic standard, and these are rigorously checked on a regular basis.

What is ethical eating?

Eating ethically means eating according to values and principles that support an ethic of care about people, animals and the environment. To that extent, ethically produced food ensures that: soils and waterways are not degraded, that animals have a dignified life and death, that farmers and growers have a dignified livelihood, and that access to good food for everyone, regardless of income or social status, is made available.

People are so disconnected from the production and source of their food that their concept of the true cost of food has become warped. We’ll buy the latest iPhone but we expect food to be cheap. An understanding of ethics starts with asking questions about the food you buy, being interested in where it comes from, who grew it, how it was raised. You’re about to put it in your mouth, aren’t you?

Alex Herbert
Bird Cow Fish chef, Sydney

what is fair trade?

If organic foods are about eating better, fair trade is about the producers of our food getting a better deal. It is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world.

By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices, fair trade organisations address the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives.

Fair trade practices advocate the setting of the coffee price, for example, and offer contracts prior to harvest. This allows small-scale farmers to borrow money for equipment or labour in order to successfully harvest their crops.

Fair trade practices also advocate the employment of the breadwinner in the family before woman and children. In countless third world markets – especially in coffee producing countries – workers’ rights are only protected if they are the breadwinner. Thus women and children have few rights as they are considered casual labour.

What are whole foods?

Whole foods are foods that have not been processed or refined. These include unpolished grains, fruit and vegetables and unprocessed meats. Whole foods do not contain added salt, sugar, flavouring agents or preservatives. This means that less energy and resources have gone into producing them, and most of them can be bought free from packaging. They are not only healthier for you but they also have a much lower environmental impact.