Thinking you may have slavery in your dinner or dessert can leave a bad taste in your mouth. Shopping ethically can seem overwhelming. At the Freedom Hub Cafe we have always worked hard to partner with suppliers who audit their supply chain. That way you can be sure the food and drinks we serve you have no slavery.
But how do you do that as an individual?
We asked one of our cafe team to write a blog on how she makes sure her shopping is ethical. Here are her top 5 tips:
How to Check your Groceries are Ethical
It’s overwhelming when looking at it on the shelves, by looking into the brands that are making the extra effort into supporting a sustainable supply chains. You will be surprised what is hidden by some of the major companies. Transparency is key.
1 Good old Google
We have access to all the worlds information in our palms! There is no excuse to have a quick google into the product you wanna know more about. I would recommend to skip googling the intended product as you will most likely be sent to the company’s website which won’t tell you much (only the good not the bad).
Look into the companies making the product, for example if you’re looking for Chocolate powder to help you get through this cold bitter winter. Then I would look not at the name of the hot chocolate powder but the logos or brand names on the packaging. This will tell you who is making this delicious mixture of chocolate and sugar. Looking around you see Coles or Woolworths Home brands, Cadbury Lindt Victoria and maybe a fair trade brand.
2 Use websites to do all the heavy lifting
Luckily in this day and age there are cleaver people who have done all the hard work for you when sourcing supply chains. I would recommend Shop Ethical!
An Australian site they have broken down a lot of products we are likely to see on the shelves of our local shops. They even have an app that can scan barcodes! This site uses a rating system of A, B, C, D, E and the deadly F. Shop Ethical will break down why the company was given a certain rating from:
Animal testing, Factory farming, Labour exploitation, Package/waste and the dreaded Palm Oil. The results are quite shocking.
(By the way, The Freedom Hub Cafe only chooses products where the company rates an A or B)
Another Aussie site is https://sustainabletable.org.au/all-things-ethical-eating/ This site is good with looking into the dairy and meat industry within Australia.
These sites are easy to navigate on the go and offer clear explanations on what brands you should watch out for and the ones you should support. If you type your product into the search bar and nothing comes up then move to step 3.
3 Go Big
If your search results are coming up empty, then I suggest looking into the corporations who own the companies on the packaging. Let me explain, so let’s continue with our Hot Chocolate example (which is dangerous because I am writing this article from our cafe in Waterloo and I am now tempted to go and make myself a Hot Chocolate.) Anyway I digress, so let’s break down Cadbury Hot chocolate powder, a brand all Australians recognise. Just say no results from Shop Ethical! A quick Google (just typing Cadbury into Google) I see a summary of the business on the right hand side.
One of the first things stated is the Parent organisation which is Mondelez International. In years past Mondelez International have had a terrible ranking in Shop Ethical. But a quick double check by typing Mondelez + slavery (which you can do for all companies) and we can see that they submitted a Modern Slavery Statement in 2019 and have committed to working to end slavery in their supply chain. So, checking company names, is a cleaver way to see the transparency of these organisations who often hide under their parent company.
By the way, a great site to read with regard to chocolate is: Be Slave Free. They update yearly in time for Easter.
You can also read our chocolate blog “Where to find to Find Guilt Free Chocolate” .
4. Ask your local Cafes or Suppliers about being Ethical
So looking into each item at the supermarket, easy right? But honestly who has time for that? I would suggest maybe picking one product at a time to change, do the research and the world will thank you.
As for cafes and restaurants, a lot of the time ethically source products aren’t the top of their agenda. A lot of the time, it is a supplier who can delivery items quickly and a cheap price. In this day and age we need to shift our priorities favouring the ethically sourced rather then a cheap meal. A lot of cafes won’t know their supply chain but if you ask any social enterprises then we will be happy to chat all day about who we partner with. If the cafe boasts about its sustainability put them to the test. It doesn’t have to been an interrogation but a friendly conversation the more customers bring it up the more the cafes will take notice. Remember we cater to you!
The Freedom Hub Cafe is an award winning Ethical Cafe. You can read more about us and our award here.
Finally the age old question, are the products made from Australian ingredients? This doesn’t automatically make something ethical, but it is an excellent start. Now for the hospitality industry getting Australian only ingredients isn’t always practical as different fruits and vegetables have season for growing. So if you want your avocado toasts all year round then some imports have to be made.
If this is all getting too overwhelming for you just remember local is better. Support your local farmers/suppliers by going to markets, buying directly from the source and supporting cafes who strive to improve their supply chain.
Here at The Freedom Hub Cafe we are doing the hard work for you! Making sure all our products have a sustainable supply chain.
Written by: Bonnie (Cafe Allrounder – The Freedom Hub)