Wondering what our take on "Local", "Organic" and "Sustainable" is? Well, here is how we define these terms and how we shape our business decisions:
Bikeables Sourcing Guidelines
Bikeables criteria include foods that are whole, fresh, seasonal, local, organic, non-irradiated, and free from genetic modification. Understanding the realities of sourcing from multiple suppliers and sources, we recognize not all goals indicated here can be achieved within our current staffing and budgets. That said, this is our general four-tier decision tree of ethical food selection:
- Local* & Organic
- Ethical Production Methods
*We define “local” as produced within 100 km.
Organic isn’t always a panacea. Sometimes other considerations trump growing method when deciding which product is better for the environment, your community, and the world as a whole. For example, if you have a choice between two bunches of beets, and one is organic and the other is not, all other things being equal, the organic beets would be the logical choice, since their production can be assumed to be more benign to the soil and water. But if the organic beets were grown thousands of miles away, while the conventional beets are from a local farm stand, you have to consider the pollution generated in bringing them to you. A lot of organic produce is now shipped from places as far away as New Zealand. That’s a long way, and a lot of fuel, for a fresh vegetable. In this case, conventionally grown beets are the more ecologically sound choice.
It seems complicated, but there’s an easy way to prioritize food purchases. We use a four-tier decision tree to guide purchases. It takes into consideration pollution, ecologically sound production, and support of the local economy.
- Local & Organic: Bikeables prioritizes and pursues sourcing of local organic food, whenever possible, as our most cherished standard.
- Local only: Even if the farmers in your area are not certified organic, but use more responsible, (e.g., no pesticides and practice organic practices), buying direct from small, local farms benefits the environment. 50% of the air pollution in N.A. is generated by motor vehicles. The less gas employed to bring your goods to you, the better (think bicycles!). Also, small farms tend to use more environmentally sound farming practices, because they have a bigger stake in the sustainability of their farm. From a culinary standpoint, fresh foods simply taste superior to older ones. Not only are the natural sugars and essential oils of most fruits and vegetables at their peak at picking, but the produce can also be picked at or close to perfect ripeness. Foods intended for shipping are intentionally picked unripe, so that they can withstand the slings and arrows of shipping. Fresh-picked fruits and vegetables have a tender, more delicate texture, more appealing natural aroma and deeper taste than artificially ripened ones.
- Organic only: All other factors being equal, we choose organic foods over conventional. The energy used to manufacture chemical fertilizer and pesticides is enormous, and the unintended effects of those chemicals can be terrible. We look forward to the day when organic production is considered mainstream, and pesticide/chemical fertilizer farming is the exception. Ethical shoppers will still opt for foods grown close to home, and everyone benefits from an overall cleaner environment.
- Ethical Production Methods: We believe in the fair treatment of animals. We purchase meat and other animal products from local farms that treat animals with consideration. We never buy from large factory farming operations. In fact, we try to visit every farm that we source animal products from to ensure that the animal husbandry practices are real. When buying from farms that are not local, we look for the “Certified Humane” label. We buy from small and medium size companies and try to avoid large corporations altogether.
We try to make every item you buy make a difference in the world. If it can’t be organic or local, then we try to find Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance or other products that address a problem. Buying Fair Trade certified foods helps alleviate poverty and end inhumane, unsustainable farming practices in the developing world. We like companies that are socially responsible, and support them with our sourcing practices
In addition to the Four Tiers of Ethical Food Selection, biodynamic farming, biodiversity, support of small farms, seasonality, and food free of pesticides are given the highest priority in our sourcing philosophy, as these practices enrich and protect our ecosystem.
Support of Small Farms
Bikeables supports small farms whose practices are more in harmony with nature, protect the land, support the local economy and ensure the integrity of our food supply for future generations.
We define “small farm” using the following criteria:
- Family owned
- Less than $250,000 gross annual sales
- The farm is the primary occupation of the farmer
- The farmer has control over the farm’s main resources – land, animals, crops, genetic material, buildings, and machinery
- The farming practices work with – rather than against – nature, using ecologically sound methods and balances that preserve the integrity of the land.