Do you stock any products containing unsustainable palm oil?
Last year we identified all our products containing palm oil (a surprisingly difficult task) and contacted the manufacturers of these products to quiz them on the sustainability of their palm oil sources. Some of these products we continue to stock as they are made with Australian grown and/or certified organic palm oil.
We understand that this palm oil may not be guaranteed 100% sustainable in every way but very few products are and we feel palm oil from these sources is likely to be more sustainable than the manufacturers switching to soya bean oil. The manufacturers of Parmazano informed us that they had become aware of the Palm Oil issue and are currently undergoing a lot of research to find a truly sustainable palm oil or switch to an alternative oil (Pamazano is also transitioning to certified organic soon). We have decided to support their product while they transition.
Some of the manufacturers we contacted were unable to give us any solid assurance that the palm oil they were using was from ethical sustainable sources (we have no trust in the 'Round table on Sustainable Palm Oil') so we discontinued all of these products. We are still deciding the fate of two product ranges we recently discovered to contain palm oil.
For more info on the palm oil issue and the RSPO visit www.palmoilaction.org.au
Do you stock the incredible product I fell in love with overseas and have never seen in Australia?
Unless it comes from the UK or is certified Kosher, probably not. But ask us anyway cause occasionally we make people very happy and if not at least we know what to harass our importer friends for.
My new vegan recipe book asks for a strange ingredient that I've never seen in a supermarket before, do you stock it?
Most likely! We're getting very good at this one. If we don't stock it yet we'll add it to our product wish list and try to track it down.
Do you sell bulk food by weight, food co-op style?
We really really really want to but unfortunately the local council are total ball breakers and wont let us sell anything unpackaged until we do expensive renovations to our kitchen out the back. We're determined to be able to do that at the end of 2010 though so hang in there.
Do you give discounts for buying in bulk?
We certainly do! If you order in a whole box of something or an extra large bag we'll give you 15% off. When we get lots of bulk orders for the same product we'll stock it all the time at 15% cheaper than the individual or smaller product.
In store now is 1kg Cheezly, 10kg vegancat, 15kg vegandog, 5kg organic stone ground wholemeal SR flour, 5kg organic cake flour, 5kg organic rolled oats and 5kg organic soya beans.
Why don't you have your Dirt Cheap Aussie Organic Fruit & Veg anymore?
Because going to the market at stupid o'clock in the morning or on our only day off is a total bitch and we got sick of it. We considered raising the price to make it worth the effort but there are already enough stores selling expensive organic veggies so we decided to focus on what we love doing.
Don't worry though, we're on a mission to become a one-stop-shop by the end of the year and once we have everything else you need we'll start going to the market for you guys again. Just because we love you that much.
In the meantime there are great organic veggie co-ops in neighborhoods all over Melbourne so get involved in your local community and get yourself some dirt cheap veggie boxes.
Do you stock organic free range eggs?
We only stock the most ethical products available and although organic free range eggs are far kinder than cage, barn and even free range eggs; certified organic free range eggs are still far from ethical. There are several unethical and unavoidable practices in commercial egg production which is why we will never eat or stock any eggs, even organic free range ones, they are:
- Organic Free Range hens may live happy lives but their parents are kept on horrendous factory farm style breading facilities which produce the hens for cage, barn, free range and organic free range farms. Supporting free range also supports factory farm breeders.
- Only females lay eggs so all male chicks are killed shortly after hatching. They are typically ground up alive, gassed, or thrown into a dumpster to suffocate or dehydrate. For every happy free range hen, there is a male chick who was cruelly killed shortly after hatching.
- Organic free range hens are still slaughtered at a fraction of their natural life span in the same horrific slaughter houses as factory farmed chickens. They naturally live for up to 12 years but they don't lay a commercially viable quantity of eggs through out this whole time so their happy lives are cruelly cut very short.
Do you stock organic dairy products?
Cows are mammals and produce milk for the same reason humans do. To feed their young. So if we're drinking cows milk where are all the calves? Like egg production there are several unethical and unavoidable practices in commercial milk production and for these reasons we will never consume or stock dairy products, even organic ones.
To produce milk, female cows must be impregnated every year. New born calves are given a varied amount of time with their mothers, which can be anything from a few hours to a few days, some organic farmers may allow calves a longer period of time along side their mothers. Female calves may be raised as dairy cows but many female and all male calves will be sold at auction. Dairy farmers like to detach themselves from what happens to the calves after auction because there is no happy organic life waiting for these calves. They become products the veal industry and will have lives involving varying amounts of cruelty (most often horrific cruelty) but all will face a cruel slaughter while still only infants. Not only this but all mother dairy cows no matter how well they are treated on organic farms will also be sold at the auctions and cruelly slaughtered outside the organic system at less than half her natural life span.
Keep in mind that these are the problems with the most welfare friendly farms, the vast majority of milk produced in Australia comes from cows who live much more miserable lives than those at certified organic dairies.
Is everything in your store vegan?
You better believe it! We only stock the most ethical & sustainable products we can track down and that means vegan products. Don't worry if you're not vegan though. We vegans eat a hell of a lot more than just veggies & mock meat. Come in and see for yourself.
Is everything in your store free from animal testing?
Of course! Every health, beauty and cleaning product you see in our store is accredited by Choose Cruelty Free. This means not only is the product not tested on animals but it's not made by a manufacturer that tests other products on animals and the manufacturer is not owned by a parent company that tests on animals.
Check out the full Choose Cruelty Free preferred products list here: http://www.choosecrueltyfree.org.au/list.html
Is everything in your store organic?
If a product is available as certified organic we stock the certified organic brand, if not, we stock a partially organic brand and a few products we just can't find organic versions of so we stock the conventional version of these.
Pretty much every grocery product in our store is certified organic. Most of our health, beauty and cleaning products are either certified organic or partially organic and we even have some certified organic mock meat & faux dairy products. Organic soy whippped cream anyone?
Is everything in your store locally made/grown?
We try to stock as locally as possible. We did stock all Victorian or at least Australian products except for our imported 'mock' products but as we expanded our range we realised that Australia just doesn't make a large enough variety of packaged organic products. We had to choose between stocking local Victorian/Australian conventional products or imported certified organic products. It wasn't clear which would be more sustainable so we decided to go for imported organic products in the hope that supporting the organic industry will encourage more Australian's to manufacture organic products.
It can be quite time consuming to track down organic products that are made in Victoria or Australia from all local ingredients so we'd love your help. If you see an imported product on our shelves and know of a local organic brand please let us know so we can track it down and reduce our food miles even more.
Do you stock organic free range meat?
Even the most welfare friendly farm on the planet still must slaughter sentient animals to produce meat. Considering we can be just as healthy and usually healthier on a meat free diet, there is nothing ethical about cruelly slaughtering another sentient creature just because we like the taste.
Also, the livestock industry is the single largest producer of green house gas emissions and although organic production is much more sustainable than conventional farms in numerous ways, it still produces huge amounts of green house gases including methane which is 21 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. For for these reasons we will never eat or stock any organic free range meats.
Why do organic products cost more than conventional products?
Organic prices reflect the true price of food production. Of course it's cheaper to grow crops on huge monoculture farms using toxic chemicals and machines to do most of the work rather than paying higher labor costs. But these modern farming methods are completely unsustainable and when the indirect costs of modern conventional food production such as loss of top soil, repair of eroded soils, clean up of polluted water, cost of health care for farmers, their workers and the consumer, environmental cost of pesticide production and disposal, and greenhouse gas emissions are all factored into the cost, organic food is much cheaper.
Organic food also costs more because in order to trust that a product is truly organic and not just more green wash marketing, farmers and manufacturers must pay for organic certifiers to audit their entire supply chain including annual soil tests to ensure the organic integrity of their product.
The cost of organic food is also higher in Australia because only a tiny percentage of our food currently comes from organic agriculture. In countries where organic production is a higher proportion of the overall food production, the price of organic food is coming down. This is largely due to economies of scale.
So come in, support sustainable farming practices and help us bring the price down.
Do any of your products contain nasty ingredients including artificial colours, flavours, preservatives, stabilizers, solvents etc?
You wont find any of that rubbish in our store. We use The Chemical Maze additive guide (which we also stock) as well as several online resources to check the ingredients in our products before they make it to our shelves. Part of being an ethical store means we wont stock products or support companies who use ingredients that are potentially hazardous to the health of our customers.
Is everything in your store Fairtrade?
We stock every vegan fairtrade food product available in Australia, or at least we think so, if you know of a new one we don't have please let us know. Also, if a product is available in Australia certified fairtrade we will ONLY stock the certified Fairtrade brands and no others.
We don't have every single brand of fairtrade coffee & tea (give us a year or two) but we do have every type of tea we can find.
We have Fairtrade coffee (beans, ground, decaf & instant), tea (every type we can find), chocolate (every single dairy free fairtrade block we could get our chocolate loving little hands on), sugar, jasmine rice, quinoa, cotton buds, cotton balls, cotton makeup pads and fairly traded superfoods & bags.
We also found certified Fairtrade nuts but a large supermarket currently has exclusive on them even though they're not making them available in all stores. Bastards.
Why do Fairtrade products cost more?
Conventional coffee is cheaper as it usually comes from disadvantaged producers who have been paid outrageously low prices for their crops and may also involve human rights violations such as slave labor. Fairtrade coffee is often certified organic as well (see Why do organic products cost more than conventional products?).
Fairtrade certification guarantees not only fair prices, but also the principles of ethical purchasing. These principles include adherence to ILO agreements such as those banning child and slave labour, guaranteeing a safe workplace and the right to unionise, adherence to the United Nations charter of human rights, a fair price that covers the cost of production and facilitates social development, and protection and conservation of the environment.
The Fairtrade certification system also attempts to promote long-term business relationships between buyers and sellers, crop prefinancing, and greater transparency throughout the supply chain and more. The supply chain must also have been monitored by FLO-CERT, to ensure the integrity of labeled products.
I'm really into veganism, organics, fair trading and all things ethical and sustainable, would you like to hire someone delightful like me?
We would love to! Unfortunately we're not quite ready to hire yet but when Anikee gets sick of working her every waking hour and has some spare cash we'll let you know.