Our Food Policy

Real Food was initiated by Transition Exeter in March 2009, in response to an identified need for access to locally produced, good food in the city centre. We are owned by our community and endeavour to make local, organic food accessible to all.

The Real Food Store is driven by a commitment to ethical and local food. We believe in trading with integrity; we pay our staff and producers fairly, and believe in making good food accessible to all rather than maximising short term profits.

We prioritise local produce as it is fresher, better for the environment, strengthens our local economy and tastes fantastic! We build direct relationships with producers and research the ethical practices of everyone we work with.

All of our fresh fruit and veg are organic and GM free. We aim to have organic options available across our entire range.

We never buy air-freighted goods, as we believe that this causes an unacceptable environmental impact.

Animal welfare is of great importance to us and we ensure that our farmers rear their animals to high welfare and environmental standards.

We aim for zero food waste and refuse to throw away food that can be eaten. Surplus or damaged produce is used in the café, and all compost is returned to Shillingford to be recycled into fertiliser.

Some ways in which we are different

  • We aim to be a true alternative to shopping at supermarkets, and provide a city centre outlet for small, independent, local producers. We are committed to re-assessing our shopping and eating habits, and demonstrating our values in everything that we do
  • We keep our margins as low as possible- balancing affording prices with paying our producers fairly. All profits go back into improving the business and back into the local economy
  • We are driven by a commitment to ethical and local food, trading with integrity and with responsibility. We pay and charge what is fair instead of maximising short term profits
  • We treat our staff with respect and are working towards the paying the living wage, set by the living wage foundation. We have a flat management structure: the business is jointly managed between 3 members of staff, with regular input from the staff team.
  • We won’t throw out food that can be eaten.

Our Food Policy

Our buying policy

We invest a lot of time into ensuring that we stock the best products we can, and are committed to purchasing only from producers that we trust, and who conduct business in an ethical, sustainable manner.

We have developed good relationships with our farmers and producers, and work closely with them to ensure we are getting the highest quality, freshest produce, for great prices.

We focus on locally produced produce, and our fresh fruit and veg is always organic. Our meat is always locally reared and free range, and we are working towards having organic options available for everything that we stock.

You will find some non-local items on our shelves, because they are staples in a lot of homes and necessary for us to stock in order for us to become a viable alternative to the supermarkets. We never buy air-freighted goods as we feel that the environmental impact is unjustifiable.

All of our suppliers are assessed on an individual basis. When looking at a potential new product line we will first consider where it has been produced, whether the producers are certified organic and/or Fairtrade and other measures that they are taking to trade in an ethical fashion. We are aware that small businesses are not always able to become organic/ Fairtrade certified- and we will stock products that have been produced according to these standards but do not have accreditation.

Why buy local?

When you buy local you are doing a wonderful thing with your money!

  • Local farmers and producers are getting a fair price for their food
  • The food comes straight from the field to your plate, it’s fresh and hasn’t cost the earth being driven around the country
  • Your money stays in the local area and strengthens the Devon economy.
  • Buying locally produced food in season wherever possible – good for farmers, the economy and the environment- and it tastes better.

Check out our recipes section for great ideas for how to use veg in season.

Our Food Policy

Why buy organic?

  • Environmental impact- Organic food is grown to strict standards that prohibit the use of most artificial pesticides, fertilizers and chemicals. Organic systems enhance natural soil fertility and local biodiversity as well as maintaining a balance of pests and predators. This allows crops to be strong and healthy.
  •  Animal welfare is very important to us, we sell meat with organic certification because this guarantees optimum welfare standards, and that they are fed organic (GM free) feed, which in turn promotes the health and vitality of the animals.
  • Some free-range farmers, who aren’t registered as organic, are still rearing to high welfare and environmental standards. We source from them when we have visited their farm and have seen their production methods. We are working on updating our information in store, and on-line, with more detail and photos of our farm visits
  • Choosing organic is the only way to remove GM products from your diet as GM crops and ingredients are banned under organic standards.

Organic produce can often be more expensive as it doesn’t cut corners on the environment or animal welfare. However, by buying locally and communicating with our producers on a daily basis we are committed to passing low prices on to our customers, and find that we are often able to compete with the prices for organic produce in supermarkets.

Becoming certified is not always possible for small producers, so we do have products in store that are grown to organic standards but are not certified. These products are bought based on firm relationships with growers, and where possible, visits to the farms to see production methods for ourselves.

Why buy Fairtrade?

Fairtrade concerns the relationship between producers and buyers. The Fairtrade terms of trading ensures that the producer receives a fair price that covers the cost of production, a social “premium” to be used by the producers to improve their living and working conditions, and contracts that allow long term planning and sustainable production practices.

When we import goods produced outside of the UK, we try to buy Fairtrade certified products where we can. When this is not possible we do our best to research the ethical practices of companies we work with. Many of our suppliers who are not Fairtrade certified have other policies in place, such as a direct trade policy, or ethical trading initiative. This is always an ongoing process and we do appreciate customer feedback if you feel we are missing out on something!

How do we reduce waste?

1/3 of food produced across the world never reaches your plate. Reducing the amount of food waste has been deemed critical if the UK is to meet international targets on climate change, and for reducing greenhouse gases by limiting the amount of biodegradable waste going to landfill. 15-20% of food waste is from retail, and we feel that retailers should take responsibility for what they throw away.

We aim for zero food waste and work towards this by:

  • Monitoring stock levels and not over ordering
  • Selling “ugly” fruit and veg, that would be rejected by supermarkets.
  • Using surplus or damaged produce in the café and bakery, and using or discounting products before they reach their best before date.
  • All compost is returned to Shillingford Organics, where it is recycled into fertiliser.
  • Bread and sandwiches that haven’t sold are collected by charities supporting the homeless.

We also try our best to reduce unnecessary food packaging, by selling the majority of our fruit and veg loose and encouraging customers to bring reusable bags. All of our takeaway packaging, such as our coffee cups and sandwich boxes, are made from compostable materials and we are always looking for new ways to reduce packaging in store.

You can apply your own genius to making the most of your food shopping and reducing your waste. We want to share our top tips about reducing food waste including in-store recipes- demonstating how to cook simple and delicious meals for you, your friends and family that don’t cost the earth. We want to put good food on your plate and not in landfill!

We have a food bank donation box in store, please check for updates on what is currently required.

Sticking to these principles means that we can sometimes be short of certain items- please be patient with us!