At Real Food Grocer, we do what we do for a reason. Our purpose is hard to describe in a few words, but it involves making the greatest positive impact on our customers’ lives – with the least possible harm to the environment. To unpack RFG’s purpose further, this article details some of the steps we take to deliver on our promise – to ourselves, and our customers. We hope we’re able to communicate just how important this is to us. Read on!
Sourcing and Supply Chain
Real Food Grocer’s first step to sustainable sourcing is to ensure that all our fresh fruit and veg are Australian grown. We honour this commitment by purchasing directly from local farmers and producers. This not only puts more dollars into local growers’ pockets, it provides greater stability to their seasons and generally makes life as a grower more sustainable.
We pay a fair price for our produce and buy direct and in bulk where we can – so, the savings filter down to our customers. Purchasing seasonally, locally and in bulk also reduces packaging and limits the number of deliveries and pickups our team needs to make.
Some examples of how we honour this commitment:
- We only sell kiwifruit in the Australian growing season. As an imported product, kiwis would spend over a month in refrigerated freight from Italy. It has a much higher carbon footprint travelling this way, increased packaging to withstand the long-haul trip and has already aged a month before it arrives on our shores.
- Selling imported Navel oranges year-round would mean that the green, ‘uglier’ Valencia oranges that are grown in Mildura would have a much smaller market. This would mean that the thriving farming region would be dreadfully impacted. Therefore, we choose not to import the Navels.
For everything out of season that we import into Australia, something grown locally that is in season gets left to rot. We’re doing our part to prevent this wastage.
When it comes to packaging, the Real Food Grocer team is proud to be as close as possible to plastic-free*. Every single customer who shops with Real Food Grocer saves approximately 497 single-use plastic bags from ending up in landfill. Not only do we deliver your goodies in a reusable cardboard box, but we also bag in paper and provide glass jars for our bulk items. These can be used time and time again. Each customer who shops with us also saves around 100kg in carbon emissions by choosing delivery over a trip to the shops.
At Real Food Grocer, we not only accept but advocate for ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables. These are fruit and vegetables that are blemished and not perfectly shaped but remain perfectly delicious and nutritious. It came to our attention that the greenhouse gases produced by food waste in Australian landfill each year is equivalent to the emissions of Australia’s steel and iron ore industries combined and that 25% of food waste never even leaves the farm. We can change much of this by dropping our aesthetic standards. For example, simply by switching to ‘ugly’ apples’ we have a chance to impact 250,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases, just in Melbourne!
By advocating for ‘ugly’ we also encourage our customers to try new things, use and share leftovers and only order what they will in fact eat. Team RFG are happy to provide recipes for any items our customers are stumped on, and encourage you to get creative in the kitchen!
The waste we do accumulate through our packing process is composted and turned into RFG’s Worm Wee product. This is so nutrient-rich, it’s perfect for rose bushes or the veggie garden. You can order Worm Wee here.
No Palm Oil
Team Real Food Grocer will not work with palm oil in any form and we save 600M2 of forest every year by refusing to do so. This can be challenging, as palm oil is in almost everything. This includes around 50% of the products on supermarket shelves, plus there is no labeling regulation that requires the declaration of palm oil in a product. This means we’ve had to work hard to keep our store free from it.
If you’re unsure of the impact palm oil has on the world, we’ve listed some of its major impacts below and some resources for additional reading.
Palm oil major impacts:
- Palm oil plantations are the largest contributor to deforestation.
- Palm oil plantations are displacing Indigenous communities.
- The habitats of many endangered animals are under threat.
- HUGE implications for climate change, soil and water pollution.
- https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/theworldpost/wp/2018/07/31/food-waste/ (paywall applies, find a similair article below)
Real Food Grocer, we acknowledge that working this way requires effort and extra energy dedicated to the way we cook, eat, plan our meals, and select items for sale. It might be less convenient, but we truly believe the impact is worth it!
*Some punnet-ed items still come in plastic, though we are always looking to improve this area. Cut items are wrapped in plastic wrap due to food safety laws. Anything that comes with a plastic wrap is marked as such in the product description on the website.
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