Co-operation in Action!

Sometimes things come together more easily than you expect. This was the shared sentiment after our Sourcing Team consensus workshop on Monday where we answered the question “What should be the characteristics or attributes of the products available at The Mustard Seed?”

Answering this sort of question no small feat for a large team meeting, but with the help of skilled facilitator Crystle Numan we were able to establish our top nine attributes in a couple of hours. It was encouraging that these characteristics reflect the food-related responses we had in this spring’s survey question “How would you like The Mustard Seed to be different from where you currently buy your groceries?” We are definitely on the right track! Below is a summary of the attributes that we will be looking for in the coming months as we begin to build the co-op’s sources database. We will need to weight and quantify these characteristics in the coming months.

Local producers and manufacturers – the major themes of this group included supporting local producers and businesses, freshness, local ingredients, LFP certification, and clear seasonality in offerings.

Wholesome and non-toxic ingredients – there was an emphasis on wholesome identifiable ingredients, foods that are nourishing, minimally processed or refined foods, minimal artificial additives or preservatives, no GMOs, and organic foods.

Environmentally responsible packaging – includes minimal or no packaging, an emphasis on bulk, and packaging that is reusable, biodegradable, and recyclable.

Socially-responsible producers – we will consider other co-ops and non-profits in our sourcing, fair wages for workers, fair-trade certification, independent businesses, and strong respect for human rights.

Ecologically responsible practices – we will look for farms with organic or other environmentally sustainable farming practices, reduced dependence on fossil fuels, and other farming philosophies like biodynamics.

Affordable Options – we will be looking for excellent prices on essentials and a variety of price options for other products so that The Mustard Seed is affordable for everyone.

Ethical animal practices – the farmers and producers we support will employ good animal husbandry practices including free-range and no/minimal antibiotic use.

Small-scale and innovative trials – we would like to offer a selection of products not found in mainstream supermarkets, such as heritage varieties and heirloom seeds, and empower local producers by supporting short-run trials of unique or innovative products.

Alternative dietary options – includes sourcing foods appropriate for vegetarians, vegans, those with a specific food intolerance, and certified to religious standards.

With these characteristics in mind, the Sourcing Team will be developing a prioritization matrix and an extensive database of suppliers who can stock our store.  While food choices can sometimes be divisive, this consensus workshop really helped us find the essential things we all hold in common.  As your representatives in making The Mustard Seed Co-op Hamilton’s finest source of conscientiously sourced grocery and household items, we value your feedback.  Send us a note line with your thoughts.

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4 thoughts on “Co-operation in Action!

  1. Terrific work. I think it absolutely essential that, as a grouping of people to make the sort of privileged food choices the co-op is making, that there be food servings and/or educational outreach donated free-of-charge to low-income folk in the area. I.e. community kitchens, free food serving in Gore Park, etc.

  2. Pingback: The Mustard Seed is Sprouting! | The Mustard Seed

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