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.
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 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.
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
For fresh fruits and vegetables we aim to:
- Buy from on-campus growing initiatives even if they are not certified organic;
- Buy from local certified organic farms, defining local as coming from southern British Columbia or northern Washington State
- 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:
- Buy certified organic products;
- Source as locally a possible and support local businesses;
- Buy fair-trade or direct-trade products; and
- Keep in mind the nutritional value, accessibility, and affordability for students.
For coffee, tea, chocolate and spices we aim to:
- 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
- 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 Hotal and other downtown Eastside housing initiatives.