Curious about what guides our decisions when choosing between different products? In short form, we adhere to Sprouts ideology focused on local and sustainably produced products. Below you can find the formal document that describes our process when choosing new products to have in our cafés and groceries.

purchasing policy

This purchasing policy is a working document which Sprouts is currently reviewing! We'd like to hear what you have to say! We have a survey that we hope can facilitate greater transparency with our community. Take our survey!

sprouts goal:

Sprouts is committed to sustainable food systems. Our main goal is to promote food security
on  the  UBC  campus  and  beyond  by  encouraging  ecological,  social  and  economic
sustainability.  Through  our  various  initiatives  we  endeavour  to  make  nutritious,  affordable, 
and minimally-packaged food accessible to everyone on campus. 
We want our land to be able to feed future generations, our natural environments to be
protected, and the producers of our food to be paid a fair price for their products. In deciding
which products to carry, we consider all inputs from the field to the fork.

Purchasing Decisions:

Members of Sprouts' Board of Directors evaluate all products and look at numerous factors
before deciding which items to sell in Sprouts, serve in the cafe, and use for our independent
projects  including  the  Sprouts  Box,  Community  Eats  and  Workshops.  Evaluated  factors
include  product  origin  and  growing  methods,  amount  of  packaging,  and  company   business
model and values. 
Coordination  of  ordering  is  the  responsibility  of  the  Distributors  Coordinator  and
Suppliers Coordinator. Comments on current products and suggestions for new products will
always  be  accepted  and  the  members  of  the  Board  collectively  decide  on  whether  or  not  to
introduce a new item.
In deciding which products to carry, we consider the following questions:

  • Where and how was it produced?

  • Where and how was it processed?

  • Does it use unnecessary packaging?

  • What energy was involved in its production and transport?

  • What sort of distributor is involved? Do we want to support their business model?

  • How much will it cost the consumer?

  • To what extent is it accessible to consumers with diets that are vegan, gluten-free, or otherwise restricted?

In all cases, we prefer to purchase products that are minimally packaged. We recognize that
organic is not always synonymous with economic and ecological sustainability and that the
costs associated with a 100% organic diet can be prohibitive. The importance of each of the
above values may be ranked individually for each product considered. 


We  guarantee  that  our  produce  is  grown  locally,  either  in  southern  British  Columbia  or
northern Washington State. We favour produce grown on campus from  initiatives including
the  UBC  Farm  and  the  Land  and  Food  Systems  (LFS)  Orchard  Garden.  In  addition,  we
consciously  support  local  businesses  and  partnerships.  We  work  with  three  main  organic
foods distributors: Pro-Organics, Horizon Organics and Discovery Organics, as well as with a
number of local independent suppliers for specific products. We do not source directly from
other local farms because of challenges with pick-up and  delivery. Direct sourcing will be a
preferable way of buying produce in the future if it becomes more logistically feasible. 

Organic  products  sold  and  used  at  Sprouts  do  not  have  to  be  certified,  as  we
acknowledge  that  independent  certification  is  not  economically  feasible  for  all  farmers  or
businesses  that  adhere  to  organic  practices.  Further,  we  recognize  that  fair  trade  is  a
problematic  concept  and  that  the  costs  of  independent  certification  can  be  prohibitive  to
development.  We  support  direct  trade  and  other  trade  initiatives  that  are  having  a  positive
impact for producers, even if this means  choosing smaller suppliers that cannot afford official

purchasing priorities:

For fresh fruits and vegetables we aim to:

  1. Buy from on-campus growing initiatives even if they are not certified organic;

  2. Buy from local certified organic farms, defining local as coming from southern British Columbia or northern Washington State

  3. Buy certain fruits and vegetables only in the seasons that they can be locally and sustainably produced.

We favour produce grown on campus from initiatives such as the UBC Farm and the Land and Food Systems (LFS) Orchard Garden and Roots on the Roof.

For bulk and packaged grocery and snack foods we aim to:

  1. Buy certified organic products;

  2. Source as locally a possible and support local businesses;

  3. Buy fair-trade or direct-trade products; and

  4. Keep in mind the nutritional value, accessibility, and affordability for students.

For coffee, tea, chocolate and spices we aim to:

  1. Acknowledge that while these products do not grow locally, we can meet the high demand for them by finding ecologically and economically sound sources and providing fair-trade and organic products; and

  2. Consider the sustainability of the company's business model, when possible supporting direct-trade initiatives and volunteer-run organizations with goals and mandates that align with those of Sprouts.

An example of this is East Van Roasters, our coffee supplier. EVR is a social enterprise that offers organic coffee beans and provides support and training to the women residents of the Rainier Hotel and other downtown Eastside housing initiatives.