CURIOUS ABOUT WHAT GUIDES OUR DECISIONS WHEN IT COMES TO CHOOSING THE PRODUCTS WE PURCHASE? IN SHORT, WE ADHERE TO A STANDARD FOCUSED ON LOCAL, ETHICAL AND SUSTAINABLE PRODUCED PRODUCTS. BELOW YOU CAN FIND THE FORMAL DOCUMENT THAT OUTLINES HOW WE MAKE DECISION WHEN CHOOSING NEW PRODUCTS.

THIS PURCHASING POLICY IS A WORKING DOCUMENT THAT IS ALWAYS SEEKING TO BE IMPROVED. WE ARE ALWAYS OPEN TO HEARING FEEDBACK. PLEASE REACH OUT BY EMAILING INFO@UBCSPROUTS.CA OR SENDING US A MESSAGE ON OUR INSTAGRAM OR FACEBOOK PAGE.


purchasing policy

SPROUTS MISSION:

Sprouts is committed to sustainable food systems. We seek to enable food security at UBC and beyond in the greater Vancouver community by encouraging and empowering ecological, social, and economic sustainability. Through our various initiatives, we endeavor to make nutritious, affordable, and minimally-packaged food accessible to everyone on campus. There are few things that bind society to nature as intimately as food and it is clear that amidst anthropogenic climate change and polarizing social inequality, solutions to food security must be sought beyond the realm of agricultural production alone. To address such issues, it is necessary to acknowledge the entrenched political, economic, social, and environmental systems that implicitly intersect with sustaining both ourselves and our homes. We need our land to be able to feed future generations, our natural environments to be protected, and the producers of our food to be equitably compensated for their labour. In deciding which products to carry, we consider all inputs from the field to the fork.

PURCHASING DECISIONS:

We favour produce grown from on-campus initiatives like UBC Farm, Land and Food Systems (LFS) Orchard Garden, and Roots on the Roof while also working with three main organic food distributors: Pro-Organics, Horizon Organics, and Discovery Organics. We further work with a number of local independent suppliers for specific products and consciously seek to support local businesses and partnerships. Members of the Sprouts' Executive Board evaluate all products and look at numerous factors when deciding on which items to sell at Sprouts, serve on our menus, and use for our other initiatives. Purchasing decisions are the responsibility of the various initiative coordinators and the Distributor Coordinator. In deciding which products to carry, we consider three key pillars: Social & Animal Equity, Health and Wellbeing, and Environmental Impacts. With these values, we consider the following questions as indicators:

  • Where and how is it produced and processed?

  • Does it necessitate shipping and packaging that is considered high-impact?

  • How much energy is involved in its production and transport

  • What are the consequences of supporting the distributor initiative or business model?

  • Do such consequences extend to benefit worker’s equity and local economies?

  • Are such business models and initiative claims verifiable?

  • Are product prices affordable and can costs be acceptably passed onto the community?

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

  • Do such purchasing decisions reflect the values of the Sprouts and UBC community?

PURCHASING PRIORITIES:

For fresh produce we prioritize:

  1. Buying from on-campus growing initiatives even if they are not certified organic; UBC Farm, Land and Food Systems (LFS) Orchard Garden, and Roots on the Roof

  2. Buying from local certified organic farms when possible

  3. For bulk products, packaged groceries, and snack foods we prioritize:

  4. Buying certified organic products when possible

  5. Sourcing as locally as possible and supporting local businesses and their initiatives

  6. Buying fair-trade or direct-trade products; while

  7. Keeping in mind the nutritional value, accessibility, and affordability for students.

For coffee, tea, chocolate, and spices we:

  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

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

AN INCLUSIVE AND HOLISTIC APPROACH:

The importance of each of the above values is considered when deciding what we purchase. However, we are not bound to a single pillar or indicator. For example, we recognize that organic certification is not always synonymous with economic and ecological sustainability nor are organic practices always economically feasible for farmers or businesses to adhere to. We acknowledge that food miles in and of itself is not an adequate indicator of sustainability without consideration for mode of transportation. Further, we recognize that fair trade is a problematic concept and the costs of independent certification can be prohibitive to those who work in such agricultural industries. We support direct trade and other trade initiatives that provide a positive impact for producers even if this means choosing smaller suppliers that cannot afford official certification. With these as examples in mind, we therefore consider these values as a guiding principle as opposed to guarantees.

GUARANTEES:

While we recognize that our purchasing policy is fluid and incorporates different aspects of our values varying through time, there are some guarantees that we can provide when we purchase products for our initiatives. We guarantee that our produce is grown as locally as possible and in-season. We define and prioritize locality in the following order: UBC campus, Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, British Columbia, and then Washington State. We guarantee our products and operations to be vegan with the exception of honey, as it is a realistic alternative that supports local distributors while also minimizing the purchasing of sugar that is produced elsewhere. We also only use honey on snack menu items as an extra cost choice. If you have questions about which menu items have honey, please just ask!

PURCHASING POLICY CHART:

With everything considered, how does the purchasing policy actually translate into choosing our products? When considering bringing on new distributors and products, we seek to research what is relevant as thoroughly and extensively as we can. However, we also use this chart (hyperlink to chart) to guide and inform us on how compatible we are with such products.

UBC Sprouts Purchasing Policy Chart
This chart is meant to be used as a guide when considering things to purchase from our distributors as it incorporates everything that we take into consideration. It should not be particularly easy for any one person to look at this chart and deduce what we are purchasing as these decisions are made as a collective and must take countless complexities into account.
However, it should provide the community with a base for what guides the decisions we make and why. This chart is the basis for our purchasing policy and is what informs us when we make purchasing decisions for Sprouts initiatives. Moreover, this chart allows us the flexibility to not just focus upon one factor, but adopt an inclusive and holistic approach to our purchasing decisions.
The three pillars of principles we value most are Social & Animal Equity, Health & Wellbeing, and Environment Impacts. We then look to certain actionable indicators that help guide our decisions in conjunction with these principles.
Pillars
Social and Animal Equity Health and Wellbeing Enviromental Impacts
Principles
    - Affordability for Sprouts and the UBC community
- Worker's rights
- Benefit and equity to local economies
- Small scale operations
- Local ownership
- Opposition to animal cruelty and exploitation
- Compatibility with business mission and values
- Nutrition of our community members
- Community perception and opinion
- Reasonable logistics for Sprouts
- Marketability, taste, and desirability of products in the UBC
community
- Plant based products and food
- Inclusivity for those with vegan, gluten-free, or otherwise restrictive
diets
- Organic
- Minimizing of environmental and ecological impact through:
- Reduced waste
- CO2 emissions
- Water usage
- Support for education initiatives
- Ecologically sound sourcing of spices, herbs, coffee, and tea
Indicators - Affordable pricing
- Fair trade
- Scale of operations
- Direct sourcing from producers
- Vegan
- Verifiable claims
- Locality (UBC Campus, Vancouver, Fraser Valley, BC/WA, Canada)
- Practicality of buying in bulk
- Whole foods in their just-grown state
- Plant based products and foods
- Nutritional density
- Nutritional balance amongst menus, Sprouts Boxes, and store stock
- Local miles
- Low-impact shipping
- Minimized, compostable, and recyclable packaging material
- Plant based products
- Energy used in production
- In season produce
Guarantees
While we recognize that our purchasing policy is fluid and incorporates different aspects of our values varying through time, there are some guarantees that we can provide when we purchase products for our initiatives.
We guarantee that our produce is grown as locally as possible and in-season. We define and prioritize locality in the following order: UBC campus, Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, British Columbia, and then Washington State.
We guarantee our products and operations to be vegan with the exception of honey, as it is a realistic alternative that supports local distributors while also minimizing the purchasing of sugar that is produced elsewhere.
We also only use honey on snack menu items as an extra cost choice. If you have questions about which menu items have honey, please just ask!