The Ethical Shopping Cart: How to Bring Home Products that Do Good

Consumers are starting to see the direct connection between what they eat and how it affects our world. But do you ever get confused when picking a product? What’s the difference between cage-free and free-range? Does it matter if coffee is grown in the shade?

There are so many choices; it’s easy to get confused. That’s one reason shopping at your local co-op can be a huge help. We do the preliminary work for you by getting to know the farmers, producers and companies who grow and make the products you find on our shelves.

In the end, of course, you get to decide what actually goes into your shopping cart! When you want your dollars to make an impact, here’s how your local co-op supports ethical shopping.

Respect for Humans: When you purchase your vegetables or meat from a trusted local farmer, you can be assured that the men and women employed to grow, tend and harvest that food are treated well and paid fairly. Employees from Lakewinds and many other co-ops personally visit farms and processors, such as Harmony Valley Farm and Featherstone Farms, to learn about labor and farm practices. We also pay producers a fair price for their products.

Of course, it’s a challenging to do that for products that can’t be grown or produced locally. That’s why organizations such as Equal Exchange Co-op are critical partners for sourcing products like chocolate, coffee and tea. The Equal Exchange and Fair Trade certifications ensure that the farmers in other parts of our world are receiving a living wage for their labor and support your ethical shopping.

Respect for Animals: As mentioned, Lakewinds visits many of the local farms that supply our stores, such as Blooming Prairie and Ferndale Market. We value our relationships with our growers and producers and strive to source from farms that raise well-managed, stress-free animals that spend most of their lives outside, eating the food their bodies are meant to eat.

Learn more about how buying milk, other dairy products, eggs and meat from local farmers supports ethical shopping by reading our meat standards and eggs, dairy and cheese standards.

Respect for Environment: Yes, we’ll say it again. When it comes to knowing how the food you buy was grown, know your source. Shopping at your co-op will help you with that, but we also recommend looking for the Certified Organic label. When you see products with the USDA Certified Organic seal, that’s proof those items meet the highest standards in the natural foods industry and are free from GMO’s.

Another label to look for is in the Seafood department — the Marine Stewardship Council label. The MSC is an international nonprofit that only certifies fisheries that are sustainable, have minimal impact on the environment and are responsive to changing circumstances in fish populations and ecosystems.

Find Out More

So what IS the difference between cage-free eggs and free-range eggs? Chickens from free-range producers have access to the outdoors, whereas cage-free may not. Curious about shade-grown coffee? This coffee production preserves the natural environment of the region where the coffee’s grown. Shade-grown coffee protects birds, prevents soil erosion and sequesters carbon.

At Lakewinds, we hold the products on our shelves to very high standards, striving to allow nothing in that is harmful to human, animal or environmental health. We have standards set for all of our product categories — from meat and dairy to health and body care. Our website outlines all of our standards, and you can even find a list of our banned ingredients.

Lakewinds makes healthy, ethical shopping easy and believes that when you shop our shelves, you’ll bring home products you feel good about.