The first store to be certified by the Soil Association.
When we opened in 1995 we were the first store to be certified by the Soil Association, and to be honest they didn’t quite know what to do with us. They are used to inspecting farms and food producers, not little stores who wanted certification that all the fruit and veg they were selling was organic. We still work closely with the Soil Association and they have got a bit more used to us, and still certify that all of the fresh fruit and vegetables and fresh bread we sell is organically grown, and that all of the food cooked in our kitchen is made from organic ingredients.
As we are organically certified we can sell loose, unpackaged fruit, vegetables and bread, and you can be sure that what we label an organic carrot is actually an organic carrot. It must be because we don’t ever buy non-organic carrots. There are some other areas of the store where our 100% only organic standard also applies – we sell organically certified meat with the exception of Wild British game meat and all our fish is sustainably sourced – all of our beers, wines and spirits are organic, and most are vegan. In store our juice bars, coffee bars, kitchens and cafés are also completely organic.
No to processed foods, no to hydrogenated fats and a big, fat no to GM.
We do not only sell organic packaged foods, although there are minimum product standards that apply to every single product that we sell. We have never sold anything that contained artificial sweeteners, preservatives, colours, flavours or anything else. Likewise we have never sold foods filled with hydrogenated fats, and we have always said a big NO to GMO. We continue to avoid all GM crops, as well as all meat from animals that have been fed GMO.
Our business began with a passion for organic, and we are always striving to increase the percentage of organic products that we sell. Whether that is helping small, start-up suppliers through the process of organic certification or developing niche products that are not yet available organically, we remain as committed to the growth or organic agriculture worldwide as we were in 1995.
It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it.
As a business it not just what you do that counts, or as a retailer it is not just about the products that you sell. How you run your business is just as important, and one of the cornerstones of Planet Organic from Day 1 has been to conduct our business in a fair, honest and responsible way, respecting our customers, suppliers and team members.
It’s not always easy being green. We were disappointed in the late Nineties that our cargo bike delivery service didn’t take off. We have struggled so many times to donate food waste to London shelters, and we deal with different recycling restrictions in each of the London Boroughs that we have stores in. However, over the years there have been some marvellous successes.
We said goodbye to plastic bags years ago, and use fully recycled paper bags for all your grocery shopping. We use food containers made from bagasse, a sugar cane waste material in our café’s, and to be honest got a bit too excited when we found the first compostable take-away coffee cup lid. It’s the little things…
And it’s not just what we do. Encouraging our suppliers to move towards re-usable delivery boxes saves around 10 bales of compressed cardboard a day, while our sales of Life Water, a drop for drop not-for profit organisation, have so far provided clean-drinking water to 1200 people as part of the Gopavaram Community Well Project in Andra Pradesh.