What does ‘curated’ mean to you?
Are you a label checker? Do you feel you need to read the back of your grocery items for hidden ingredients (or mould inhibitors or preservatives...) just to be sure you know what you are actually feeding your family? If this is you, then you will definitely breathe a sigh of relief when you read on and discover how OneTable has 'your back'.
When most people think of ‘curated’ they think art exhibitions. Pieces picked for specific design or origin to fit in with a theme or style of exhibition. Curation however extends well beyond the art world, and at OneTable we are very thorough about curating every product we list.
I think it is fair to say our products are definitely selected for their origin (perhaps not so much design), but the criteria go well beyond just where a product came from.
What are the OneTable criteria for curation?
At OneTable, Certified Organic is just our starting point.
We have been where most of you have also been. Wanting to do the best for your family, getting your organic shop weekly without fuss and then noticing that certain items that you have been buying are NOT actually organic. What?!? When did those items slip past your notice and what else is not organic?? It does make you wonder.** Mild to blood boil
Additionally, there are so many descriptions of produce – farm fresh, organically grown, chemical free - and it can be so confusing. Click through here for a breakdown on what the differences are. **Link the title not click here
So at OneTable we decided early to become your Certified Organic one-stop-shop. We didn’t want any deception (unintentional or otherwise) and we want all our members, when coming to our online store or our markets, to feel confident about getting certified organic items.
All of our fresh produce is 100% Certified Organic, no exceptions, no substitutes, no compromises.
Food Miles (how far food has travelled from producer to plate)
When it comes to Certified Organic produce in Australia, local usually means statewide, and even occasionally across several states. Australia does not have the supply (or growing conditions) to be able to source Certified Organic produce from within a certain perimeter e.g. within 50 km of Sydney are very few Certified Organic producers.
Having said that, it is actually fairly rare to be able to get ALL of your conventional produce from one area anyway. Agriculture just doesn't work like that. Blueberries need very different climates to pineapples and potatoes need to be kept away from apples, just to name a couple of examples.
So whether you are getting apples from Victoria or Mangoes from north Queensland, when you buy Australian Certified Organic produce, you are getting food that has been grown free from toxic chemicals and are supporting a growing movement of active and aware farmers within the Certified Organic industry. The food you get is healthier, more vibrant and simply more alive. The earth that it is grown in has been nurtured, fed and cared for and the communities around the Certified Organic farms are usually healthier and more community-minded. (See Anthony from Googa Farms talk about his community).
Country of origin
Almost 100% of our produce is Australian. The only exceptions to this are occasionally Blueberries and Kiwifruit grown in New Zealand. The reason we do this is only to supplement the Australian supply and it good to know that New Zealand organics are not treated in any way upon entry to Australia that would jeopardise their Certified Organic status. In fact Australia and New Zealand producers (conventional, organic and bio-dynamic) comply to the same bi-national statutory authority “Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ)”.
We do not supply fresh produce from any other country. There are several reasons for this.
- Despite Australia’s Certified Organic sector being comparatively small, we still manage to provide a full (and stunning) range of Certified Organic fruits and vegetables.
- Eating Australian means eating in season. Due to the geographic size of Australia, the seasonality can even be extended a little. For example, the Queensland apple season may start earlier than NSW & Victorian, but then also finishes earlier, hence giving us in season apples a little longer as we move to NSW, VIC & SA producers.
- Due to our strict (thankfully!) quarantine laws, produce coming in from overseas needs to meet treated and often with toxic sprays. This is regardless of whether it is conventional or organic produce. Chinese garlic is an example of toxic quarantine requirements, as it must be sprayed in methyl bromide. Not something you then want to eat.
There are so many Certified Organic or simply 'organic' grocery items available in Australia, and so many have health or lifestyle claims, often skirting around blatant false advertising. At OneTable, when a new item comes across our ‘desk’, there are many questions that we ask on your behalf.
Is it Certified Organic? This is our primary question. If it is not Certified Organic, the only way it goes any further is if the product can meet other requirements that I will mention later (see below).
Assuming a product is Certified Organic, we then ask questions such as:
- Who is the Certifier? Does Australia recognize them as being reputable?
- Where is this product from? From where are the ingredients sourced? Where is the supplier based? Locally or overseas? There are some products that we will only sources from certain locations due to things such as lack of pollution or more favourable growing conditions.
- Are there any ethical questions about either the source of the ingredients or the supplier? Does the supplier embody the organic movement, are they authentic and passionate?
- Are there ingredients that may meet certified organic requirements but are not great options? An example of this is Coconut Milk containing Guar Gum (a thickener). For most people this is not a problem, however it can be an issue for those with certain sensitivities. While most brands contain Guar Gum, we source the only 2 brands on the Australian market without it because we know it can be problematic.
- How is the product packaged? For example, is hot liquid poured into plastic? Does a tin have linings free from BPA?
All of these questions basically lead to THE question: Is this the best Certified Organic version of this product? If all the above questions are answered well, then we will consider stocking it.
We want to be your first line of defense, of label checking and quality. We want you to know we have your back.
But is everything at OneTable certified?
Good question and that has to be a yes and a no. As stated above, all of our fresh produce will be 100% certified organic, every time.
In our grocery lines, probably close to 98% are Certified Organic, however as I will explain, there are some items that simply can not be certified organic or are not currently available as certified organic. Every product that does not meet the first requirement of “Is it Certified Organic” must meet other essential criteria.
Unable to be Certified Organic
There are items like water and salt, for example, that are natural elements or minerals from the earth, and as such it are not able to be certified, as the ACCC determined in 2013.
Secondly there are items such as the ‘If You Care’ home item range like Baking Paper, Aluminium Foil and Patty Cake Papers that again, cannot be certified.
At OneTable, criteria for these items include the ethics behind the manufacturer and looking at ingredients in the items. We also look at what conventional problem is this item solving that really fits with our way of thinking and that of our members. For example the baking products contain no linings such as silicone to make them non-stick and are completely compostable.
Not currently available as Certified Organic
There are items that simply do not have Certified Organic options available. And while this is not nearly a good enough reason to stock it, we will consider it if that item fits within our framework of products and thinking or fulfills a specific need – but only after the considerations below. With these items, we look at things like:
- Why can it not be certified – perhaps Certified Organic raw ingredients are unavailable or not able to be certified. Perhaps certified ingredient supply is too sporadic.
- Ingredients – are there any questionable ingredients? For example, is there non-GMO free corn in the product?
- Packaging – same as Certified Organic criteria
- Ethics of production – is the producer in the process of being certified? Do they embody the organic movement such as caring for the planet and human kind, being open and transparent about processes? Conscious about what is used in the processing of that product?
- Does the item really meet a need of our members that can’t be met with a Certified Organic option? An example we stock is Coconut Kefir.
We will also monitor these items and still pursue a Certified Organic option when available, but in the meantime, you can be assured that we have satisfied ourselves on these issues if it is listed.
At OneTable, we certainly don’t just add products simply to increase the range.
How do I know if something is Certified Organic or not?
As mentioned above, ALL of our fresh produce is Certified Organic. And to ensure we are transparent about that, the producer and their certification is included on the product tile of every item.
In fact that goes for all of our Certified Organic grocery lines too. The manufacturer and the certifier is listed on every product.
When something is NOT Certified Organic, you will see this…
Once you click on the underlined “non-organic page” you will be taken to a separate page that lists non-certified products that you can then add to your delivery.
This is our way of being authentic to our mission of providing the highest quality Certified Organic products, while hand picking, or curating, those products that still fit within our guidelines but have a special circumstance.
So I hope I have really clarified OneTable’s stance on Certified Organic and what we mean by ‘curated’ products. We really do place a very high importance on the reasons why we stock items – grocery or fresh produce. The OneTable range is not about how many different lines of the same product can we offer, it is more about the highest quality, curated 1 or 2 options. It is knowing that everything on the virtual shelf has been evaluated, questioned and actually considered, allowing you to order with confidence. Knowing that at OneTable, we have your back.
Happy (confident) shopping at OneTable.
NOTE: opening photo credit is hand blown glass by international team Edols Elliot www.edolselliot.com