Maintaining store standards is about taking a stand. We take a stand in our purchasing and in our active engagement in civic issues that concern our shoppers such as growing the Ontario Organic market, protecting farmers’ rights and our collective right to know what is in our food. We take a stand with and for you.

Our department managers, purchasers, in-store nutritionists, and Standards Committee members all work diligently to continuously review the products we sell and make sure they meet our Carrot Commitment. On occasion, an item on the shelf may not meet our in-store standards. If the Big Carrot discovers that any of its products do not meet these criteria, the item will be removed from the shelf. 

The Big Carrot - Organic
The Big Carrot - Fairly Traded
The Big Carrot - Animal Welfare
The Big Carrot - Non-Gmo
The Big Carrot - Sustainable
The Big Carrot - Localized
The Big Carrot - Resources

The Standards Committee

The standards committee is comprised of employees from various departments throughout the store. Committee members represent the diverse perspectives they encounter in their work at The Big Carrot, including but not limited to, our producers, suppliers, and most importantly, you- our customer. They flag current trends, opportunities and challenges as they relate to our procurement and standards at The Big Carrot. This communication loop is one of the many ways your customer questions and concerns are addressed.

Consumer education is at the centre of what we do because we believe you have to know the difference to make a difference when it comes to making every food dollar count

Standards StandardsC1


“Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people.” Many scientists believe it is one part of the climate change solution. At The Big Carrot we are convinced that organic is better for people and the planet and that is why it is the foundation of our food values and purchasing priorities.

This federally regulated, third party verified system provides “farm to fork” traceability that ensure organic integrity along the entire supply chain.

We take our role in that supply chain very seriously. We consider ourselves organic stewards- protecting the hard work of all the farmers before us. That is why all processing at our cold-pressed juice line, meat facility,  bulk and produce departments is certified to the Canada Organic Standard. Click here for an organic FAQ blog post.

At the heart of all of our efforts is employee education. The Big Carrot is committed to empowering all of its employees to feel confident in how to uphold the organic standards within our store as well as communicate the many benefits of organics to our customers. Preserving the hard work of farmers – that is what we do.

Our Organic Commitment In Action

  • Our produce department is all organic (with a handful of wild, seasonal items)
  • We prioritize organic in all of our purchasing
  • Over a million dollars donations to organic farms, organizations and education events over the last 10 years
  • Connecting people to their producers through farm trips and in-store celebrations
  • Big Carrot staff are of service to several organic organization boards of directors including Canada Organic Trade Association, Canada Organic Growers and Organic Council of Ontario

Organic Organizations in Canada

Canadian Organic Growers

Organic Council of Ontario

Canadian Organic Trade Association

CFIA – Organic Products

Organic Resources Worldwide

Rodale Institute

Soil Association

Organic Research Centre




“Organic agriculture builds healthy soil. Healthy soil = healthy plants = healthy people”


Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are a result of the practice of genetic engineering (GE).  This technology introduces new traits to an organism by making changes directly to its genetic makeup, e.g. DNA, through intervention at the molecular level.

Unlike conventional crossbreeding or hybridization, genetic engineering happens enables the direct transfer of genes between different species or kingdoms that would never breed in nature.

Almost all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. None of the GMO traits currently on the market offer benefits like drought tolerance or enhanced nutrition.

There is no scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs. To the contrary, a growing body of scientific evidence confirms the urgent need for independent long-term testing of GMOs.

The Big Carrot has been advocating against GMOs in our food system since 1999. We have been reviewing products and avoiding risk ingredients ever since. In 2007, we re-affirmed this commitment by creating a store policy to prioritize the purchasing of Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified products. If a product is neither organic nor Non-GMO Project Verified and contains risk ingredients it is reviewed by the Standards Department. Risk ingredient include any ingredient derived from corn, soy, canola or sugar beet. At this time animal feed is not required to be non-GMO however all imported dairy product must come from RBGH-free dairies.

Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified is always the best way to avoid GMOs ~ that is why we offer over 7,000 products that are verified to one or both of these programs.

During our two-decade commitment to this movement, one of our proudest accomplishments is being a founding member of the Non-GMO Project. The Project’s non-profit mission is to preserve and build sources of non-GMO products and provide verified non-GMO choices. We are also active supporters of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN).



“The Big Carrot has been advocating against GMOs in our food system since 1999.”


The Big Carrot has been a champion of local producers from the beginning. Many of our current farm relationships date back to the early 80’s such as Pfenning’s Organic Farm, Tansy Apples and Mazak Asparagus. We remain deeply committed to the development and success of Ontario’s food economy and always prioritize the purchasing of local food and goods that are in line with our standards and values. We now count as many as 250 local Ontario producers and suppliers as part of our vendor community.

Part of our commitment to local food is helping shoppers make informed decisions about where their food comes. We have partnered with Localize to help our customers identify local products in our stores. Their database gives products a score out of 10 on how local they are to the store you are shopping in. Products with a score of 7/10 or more are labelled with an orange dot on their shelf tag in our stores.

Localize evaluates:

1.- Production: where was it made

2.- Ownership: who did the making

3.- Ingredients: where are they grown

Wait, there’s more

Product selection is only one way to support our vendors.  As founding members of Carrot Cache a small foundation that funds local organic food initiatives, we have seen the transformative power of investing in our regional food economy. Inspired by this success, we wanted to provide a similar opportunity for our own producers and so the Nature’s Finest Fund was created. This annual grant program, specifically for those who supply (or wish to supply) The Big Carrot, expands the availability of locally produced food and support the producers who grow our food. You can learn more about both grant streams on the Carrot Cache website.




“You can’t buy happiness but you can buy local

and that’s kind of the same thing”

Fairly Traded

As a worker owned store, we value products that are produced in a system that fairly compensates the growers. The Big Carrot is committed to carrying Fairly Traded products that support social justice and fair labour. We only sell fairly traded organic coffee (bag, bulk or freshly brewed) and cane sugar. In addition to these categories we offer hundreds of products throughout the store that carry one of the third party verifications for fair trade including: teas, chocolates, shea butter, soaps, tropical fruit, quinoa, nut seed oils and spices.

Fair Trade Principles

Fair price: Democratically organized farmer groups receive a guaranteed minimum floor price and an additional premium for certified organic products. Farmer organizations are also eligible for pre-harvest credit.

Fair labour conditions: Workers on Fair Trade farms enjoy freedom of association, safe working conditions, and living wages. Forced child labour is strictly prohibited.

Direct trade: With Fair Trade, importers purchase from Fair Trade producer groups as directly as possible, eliminating unnecessary middlemen and empowering farmers to develop the business capacity necessary to compete in the global marketplace.

Democratic and transparent organizations: Fair Trade farmers and farm workers decide democratically how to invest Fair Trade revenues.

Community development: Fair Trade farmers and farm workers invest Fair Trade premiums in social and business development projects like scholarship programs, quality improvement trainings, and organic certification.

Environmental sustainability: Harmful agrochemicals and GMOs are strictly prohibited in favour of environmentally sustainable farming methods that protect farmers’ health and preserve valuable ecosystems for future generations.

Fair Trade Partners and Resources

Fair Trade Canada

Fair Trade Certified

Fair For Life




“Fair trade changes lives”


All of our fresh and frozen seafood at the Big Carrot is Ocean Wise approved. Overfishing and poor practices are one of the largest issues facing oceans today. Ocean Wise approved seafood ensures research has been conducted to show that this fish/seafood is abundant, well managed and caught by fishing methods that minimize impacts on non-target species as well as the surrounding habitat. 

We partner with Ocean Wise, Canada’s leading ocean conservation organization, to make it easier than ever for our shoppers to enjoy sustainably-caught seafood. This partnership supports our ability to maintain complete and transparent information about all of our seafood products. So no need to fish for information- we have done it all for you. We commit to clearly labelling all Ocean Wise products so you can feel confident you are making the best choice for the health of our lakes, rivers and oceans. 

What makes The Big Carrot’s Sustainable Seafood commitment unique? 

  • All of our fresh and frozen seafood is Ocean Wise approved.
  • All of our canned salmon and tuna is sustainably sourced. 
  • Our tuna and shrimp suppliers are committed to third-party social accountability in their supply chain (which means, no human rights abuses).
  • Our sustainably farmed finfish must be Ocean Wise approved and raised on non-GMO feed.
  • We will never carry fish that is ranked Avoid by Seafood Watch.

We will never carry any genetically modified animals such as the GM Salmon.




“Every drop in the ocean counts.”

Animal Welfare

The Big Carrot prioritizes small Ontario family farms as well as organic and pastured meat. Meat from intensive factory farms or feedlots, the use of synthetic hormones and antibiotics in the feed is prohibited. A signed affidavit is collected from each producer of fresh/frozen meat regarding this prohibition as well as a description of on farm practices that ensures all animals are being raised in a manner that allows them to live with dignity and express their natural behaviour. 

We are committed to on farm visits, of all of our suppliers who raise animals for our fresh meat sales, to ensure the animals are being raised with care and respect.

In all areas of the store we strive to offer choices that are both in line with our values (while being mindful that not every shopper values the same thing) and respect the fact that many shoppers are seeking an economical way to stretch their food dollars.  

When it comes to Animal Products we offer three categories: Organic, Pastured or Grass Fed and Raised without hormones or antibiotics. For more options, see our Meat Buying Guide and Milk and Egg Buying Guides below.

At The Big Carrot, we promote livestock production that is sustainable and healthy for all involved: from farmers to their animals, communities and our consumers.

“We promote livestock production that is sustainable and healthy for all involved: from farmers to their animals, communities and our consumers”.


Meat Buying Guides

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Standards PreparedMeatBuyingGuide NewBrand 2018 Final Revised2

Milk & Egg Buying Guides

Standards MilkBuyingGuide NewBrand 2018 Final
Standards EggBuyingGuide NewBrand 2018 Final

Butter Buying Guides

Standards ButterBuyingGuide 2021 Final

Ocean Wise Seafood Shopping Guide

Standards OceanWise SeafoodGuide FFP revised 2 1

CBAN’s GM Food Chart

Standards GM chart fridge postcard for web posting 1

Sweetener Conversion and Buying Guides

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Standards TheBigCarrot SweetenerChart 5 1

Coconut Oil Buying Chart

Standards Coconut Chart Final 1

Squash Buying Guide

Standards SquashBuyingGuide NewBrand Final

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