The Big Carrot Standards Committee

Searching for nature’s finest is more than just a motto at The Big Carrot -it is our call to action. It informs how we run our business. As a worker owned cooperative we rely less on top down directives and more upon discovering our collective values. The standards committee is the mechanism we use to move ideas forward to our general membership.

This bottom up model brings together the conversations and concerns of our customers, industry trends, and emerging issues to keep us on the pulse of our sector. It was this model, that in 2000 lead us to exploring the risks of GMO in our grocery products way ahead of the curve.

The standards committee is comprised of a dozen or so staff and members from various departments throughout the store. We meet monthly to discuss pressing issues, new concerns and how we are moving forward on our annual goals. From these discussions recommendations are brought to the membership who decides where we will commit our resources in addition to our ongoing commitment to our fundamental values of organic and non-GMO.

Here is an overview the coming year’s new goals:

Animal welfare: Carrying on from the success of last year’s farm trips we will continue to visit our direct suppliers to ensure we are maintaining our commitment to good animal husbandry. It is our goal to establish a set of criteria for our commitment to no cages, no crowding and no mutilations.

Carrageenan: Complete a full review of all Big Carrot food products in order to compile a list of products containing carrageenan with practical alternatives.

Bees: Raise awareness about the crisis facing our pollinators. We have many engaging activities planned for the fall to help tell this story.

Household Cleaners: Step 1 of creating a Household Care Products policy will be to compile all of the current ingredient information in this category.

Local: Review country of origin information in bulk to identify potential import replacements goals.

Palm oil: This ubiquitous and troublesome ingredient has found its way into every corner of the food system. We will document where it is in The Big Carrot so that those who wish to avoid it can do so easily.

Fair trade: Create a purchasing policy to carry only Fairly Traded high-risk commodities such as coffee, tea, sugar and cocoa.

GM alfalfa: Continue to educate our community on the threat of GM alfalfa as well as provide resources and tools to get engaged.

One of the toughest aspects of our work is choosing which causes to take up. Sadly, today’s food system offers up more important issues needing attention than there is capacity. I hope you see value in the choices we made this year. As the chair of the Standards Committee, this work plan highlights our commitment to a sustainable and just food system.

By Maureen Kirkpatrick Standards Coordinator