December 15, 2015

Goodness Me: A Path to Sustainability...

Where can you feel good about grocery shopping, where “cows don't do drugs”, all produce is organic, and you can sit down for the cheapest fair trade organic coffee in Guelph? Earlier this year I walked into Goodness Me for the first time, the newest sustainability and health focused grocery store near downtown Guelph. Here I write about my experience. Fresh local produce is the first thing you see as you walk in to the store. For the health conscious consumer, Goodness Me's holistic health practitioners are there to show you the various nutritional supplements or recipes. For the vegetarian or vegan consumer, options include vegan ice cream and cheese. There is even a room where cooking classes are held.

In the back of the store, their eatery is a bustling place in the mornings. A middle aged couple sits down to catch up over fair trade organic coffee, while two high school kids grab a wrap and options from the salad bar for lunch.  Parents with young children are also there, picking up food on the run. I sit down to enjoy some very delicious, though a little pricey, pakoras.

Goodness Me offers in their non-produce section, a nice option of either organic or an alternate sustainable option. Having to pay a premium for a more sustainable product does raise the price, however, they do offer a variety of options. For example, Goodness Me charges $15.14 for a whole organic chicken, and $9.52 for a larger non-organic but free range chicken that has been fed no growth hormones. However, is it price that has made the population seem to be largely a mid to older age population with few students?  Goodness Me does try to attract students through their Wednesday 10% student discount, though I wonder if it is working.

Offering a selection based on purely organic and local products may be a trade-off for offering culturally appropriate food. For example, the store offers no halal or kosher meat options. When asked about this, an employee mentions that there had been no demand for these products, though they had been looking into getting halal products. Is this a question of no demand? Perhaps by offering more halal products, they could attract a larger and more diverse customer base.

In this globalized age, it can often be difficult to find out where our food originates. An employee explains to me that their produce is not only organic, but they also try everything they can do to source their food locally, and then they look at affordability. Interestingly, much of their produce in the summer months even comes from their own farm! Goodness Me has a relationship with a farm owned by two brothers, David and Meiring, who produce organic produce solely for the nine Goodness Me stores. I stock up on some great local veggies, and some not as local bananas.

Goodness Me does have some great options, especially for the environmentally and health aware consumer. As a new store, I am sure they are constantly expanding their market base, but who are they targeting? I wonder, is Goodness Me an acceptable space for Refugee-Path-Immigrants?

Samuel Dent, URA, ECVOntario, SEDRD, University of Guelph.
Read More »