Healthy Eating? Swansea Organic Food Co-Op ticks all the boxes!
I realised I would never be able to afford to shop organic with supermarket prices, but if I could ‘shop clever…’
Swansea Organic Food Co-op started out of a desire to change my food buying habits after getting tired of the unethical practices of the supermarkets and industrial farming. I decided to write a food mandate for myself prioritising local food first, then organic and then ‘normal shopping’ for whatever else could not be obtained. I was finding it hard to stretch the food budget to accommodate all the changes, and so I started looking into buying food wholesale.
I compared prices of non-organic rice, pasta, dried fruit, and tinned food that were available in the supermarket with buying in bulk from organic wholesalers (see my old blog lifeaftertesco.co.uk). Some things were a bit more, some a bit less, but on the whole I could see that switching to organic using the wholesalers wasn’t going to cost much more at all. Compared with the limited range of organic food available in supermarkets the savings were significant. I realised I would never be able to afford to shop organic with supermarket prices, but if I could ‘shop clever’ I could hit all the aims of the food mandate and still be able to afford everything we needed.
The only problem was that the minimum order to use the wholesalers was £250. I couldn’t afford that on my own and even if I did I wouldn’t have the space to store that amount of food. So I got a few friends together and we tried to figure out how to buy together and organise the delivery, sorting and picking up of the food.
-No one makes any money from the co-op; we are all helping each other by buying together.
We chose to buy from Suma because they always score high on ‘ethical shopper’, which is a tool to help in making purchase decisions. Even though we are called Swansea Organic Food Co-op there is still a range of non-organic wholefoods available to buy through Suma if you wish. We also decided to buy dairy produce direct from Calon Wen, which is a cooperative of 20 small scale organic Welsh farms.
Suma deliver in Swansea every Thursday so we get our orders delivered the last Thursday of the month. Emails get sent the previous week to remind people to get their orders in by the specified deadline. Orders are made by finding products on a spreadsheet and entering the product code into an online order form. Then each member emails their order to Suma who reply with an online receipt. Everyone transfers the correct money into the SOFC bank account so that we can pay Suma after the delivery. Members then pick up their orders on the evening of the delivery, which seems to be convenient for those who are working during the day.
No one makes any money from the co-op; we are all helping each other by buying together. For about three years this system has been working fine. We’ve had about 6 orders per month on average but recently we have had as many as 16 orders, which is difficult to sort in a small sitting room. It looks like there is an opportunity for more regular deliveries in the future.
Since becoming a mum I have found Swansea market, the green grocers and local produce market are a lot more difficult to access with a pram or baby carrier, (now I know why all the mums used to look at me incredulously when I told them the benefits of shopping like this!) and so I am exploring the veg boxes again as these can be picked up in the evening when I have help with child care. There is an organic farmer willing to supply us with veg boxes although at the moment he doesn’t have enough supply to meet demand. He is going to plough some more land to produce more veg boxes next year but he needs committed buyers, to pay monthly, perhaps by standing order.
Interested in buying from Suma, Calon Wen or getting a weekly veg box?
Swansea Organic Food Co-op
Email us for more information: Swansea_organic@hotmail.com
Please also ‘like’ Swansea Organic Food Co-Op facebook page. Thank you.
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- Healthy Eating? Swansea Organic Food Co-Op ticks all the boxes! - November 8, 2016