Welcome to What to Eat

by | May 4, 2023 | What To Eat

Stir It Up Favicon



Welcome to What to Eat, and because of last week’s feedback (thanks Emily), this week it’s where to buy it.

My go-to place for rigorously tested products and companies is Ethical Consumer magazine. Worth paying for (about £34 a year) if you’re keen on spending your hard-earned cash on companies that make a difference.

Not only will EC will look at hot topic areas like supply chain transparency, animal welfare, use of pesticides and antibiotics, it rates companies on their political activities, carbon reporting, ethical sourcing, whether or not they sell petrol/tobacco, their investments, excessive director pay and if it’s likely to use tax avoidance strategies. E.g. Tesco is the worst-rated company for many of these criteria, which means that even if it produces a nicely sustainable organic olive oil, it will be rated really badly because of all the other stuff it’s involved in.

You may or may not care about that- but it’s good to have the facts.

So, in no particular order, I’ve chosen key items of our weekly shop and where you might buy them from- feeling as sure as you can be that your money is paying people a living wage, protecting the welfare of animals and employees and being reinvested back into our schools, hospitals and infrastructure by way of taxation.

I’ve never been a fan of supplementing a CEO’s superyacht or bolstering his/her offshore bank account.

1. Tinned tomatoes. Tomato processing (like much of Southern Italy and Spain fruit and veg picking) is a nefarious activity. If you buy nothing else, buy tomatoes from a company not linked to modern slavery. (see my 2021 post about this). In our bags we almost always use Biona or Mr.Organic, even if it takes me over budget.

2. Milk, butter and cheese– happiest cows, most ethical companies; Acorn Dairies in the North East, Calon Wen Welsh Dairy Co-op, Riverford and Daylesford. Oh and Minor Figures Oat milk scores extremely well.

3. Chocolate. It’s a bit sad that the Fairtrade label doesn’t mean as much as it did. only 20% of the product’s ingredients need to meet the standard, as opposed to 50% in the past. Really, you’re looking for a company that’s going beyond industry standards. Paying farmers a living wage,eradicating child slavery and buying dairy from a certified source: Willie’s Cacao, Tony’s Chocolonely, Ocelot, Seed and Bean and Divine.

4. Tea and Coffee– we’re looking for companies looking to improve worker livelihoods: Cafe Direct, Hampstead Tea, revolver Co-Oop Tea, Bird and Wild and Cafeology.

5. Eggs– EC counsels the avoidance of most supermarket eggs. Organic is the best bet- Riverford, Stonegate and Clarence Court come out on top of a pretty ugly bunch.

6. Rice. I don’t know where to start with rice. Exploitation of growers and pickers, pesticides, climate change are all massive challenges in this industry. Organico, Clearspring, Biona and Infinity are at the top of the table.

7. Olive Oil– read this Wicked Leeks take on the industry What makes an Ethical Olive Oil? Mr Organic, Clearspring, Biona and Organico are the best of the easily sourced oils.

8. Fruit and Veg– always an organic veg box scheme likeRiverford or Abel and Cole. Local, organic farmer’s markets or organic supermarkets. It’s not just about pesticides but worker’s rights too.

9. Supermarkets– I had to include this- but really, they are all profit-driven machines intent only on keeping their shareholders happy. Waitrose and the Co-op generally come out best of the mainstream options but still only score 4 and 5.5 out of 20 respectively. Predictably, Tesco, Morrisons and Ocado are languishing at the bottom with Iceland and Aldi. Try the Ethical Superstore as an alternative.

NB Historically we have used Ocado for dried goods, tins and spices but as we’ve grown so much in the past few months, I’m hopeful to be able to source from somewhere more ethical- watch this space for some local collabs in March!

Go forth and make a difference.

Love Jacquie x