Sustainability 2 - On becoming a Grocer

little hadham stores

I am working on a new website and as a result have to work on an "About Me" section. On the one hand, I find this difficult. Just as I find the photoshoot I needed to do DIFFICULT, despite the best efforts of the lovely Natalie Aubry.

On the other hand, it is a great exercise in thinking about, and defining once again, what I really want to do with this business/STORES/my life...

I never intended to be a shop keeper, but I believe strongly that we need to make conscious, sustainable, choices about how we consume.  I believe that food is a great way for people to start to think about many of today's environmental issues on a personal level. And, that it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the, often conflicting, environmental advice.

little hadham stores village grocers

I try to look at things holistically, aiming to tread as lightly on the planet as possible, without compromising quality, or beauty, or the need for us to share our creativity and knowledge with the widest community we can. When I choose goods and suppliers I always work to the simple principle:


Anything else is an attempt to cut corners and it will end up biting you on the butt in the long run. It seems to me that one of the biggest problems with the food industry is that in it's continued attempts to create cheap food it has created the problems of industrialised agriculture. The constant downward pressure on price is what leads to; inhumane farming practices, lack of respect for animals, land and consumers, toxic chemicals being used on the soil, a disconnect from the earth itself. And we, the consumer, are often complicit in this.

I try to bring my customers the freshest food available, with a minimum of food miles and food waste. I support local, like-minded, business, small producers who make an ethical choice about how goods should be produced, sold, packaged and consumed. Not only is this great for our community, but we all get to eat seasonally and sustainably.

I also want to choose from artisan makers and the best quality producers worldwide, to support traditional, sustainable production practices and nutritionally valuable and great tasting food.

dog at shop door


  • Organic first is our motto; and reducing the toxicity of my environment, and the food I eat, is a life long journey. We supply weekly organic veg boxes, organic artisan bread, organic whole foods from our zero waste shelves (anything NOT organic is listed as such).

  • Reducing consumption is an aim in itself, but specifically of animal products is environmentally important. We stock vegetarian and vegan alternatives as the norm, rather than the alternative. However, I believe in nose to tail eating and believe the emphasis should be on making sure there are high welfare levels and no waste when we do consume other animals.

  • Minimise packaging. It should be compostable, recyclable or re-useable. Bring your own bags, boxes, tubs, jars, any container and we'll fill them from our shelves. Return your veg boxes, egg cartons, glass and plastic containers and paper bags and we will re-use them or compost them.

  • Cut single use plastics. Plastic is an amazing product in some circumstances but OUR use of it is killing the planet, and WE can do something about that. It’s not that we never use plastic, but we believe we can re-duce, re-use & re-cycle the minimal amount that we do use.

  • Sustainable palm oil - the West's rampant consumption of this is what drives countries to destroy their rain forests, yet like any other crop it can be sustainably grown.

  • I believe in a co-operative approach and work WITH my local suppliers. My main wholesaler is the UK’s biggest worker’s co-operative; who have been supplying natural, responsibly-sourced products since 1977. They have ethical policies on the environment, trade, palm oil, workers rights, animal welfare, toxic ingredients, and regularly review their supply chain.

It has been an iterative process, finding my way to define this approach. And it will continue to develop.

Despite my local prejudice, I find myself wanting to stock my favourite foods from overseas. I have been brought up eating West Indian food, I can't suddenly turn off that need for spice and sunshine. I am starting to stock more lifestyle products, natural materials, traditionally made, often vintage and I'm not sure if this is pushing me away from the original plan for the shop.

Anyway, I had to fill in the census form last weekend and I am now officially a grocer, so there I am. Come on in, I love to talk!

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