Our aim was, and remains, to provide an alternative to the commercial grocery trade and its emphasis on over processing,packaging and the excessive use of artificial additives in our foods. We didn't like this stuff, and the chances are, if you're reading this, you don't either.
We didn't think it was too much to ask to buy lemonade that was made from Lemons, jam that is made solely from fruit, cereals that didn't have to be drowned in sugar to give them any taste or chemical vitamins added to give them nutrition.
Now, this type of food is cheap: tasteless & bad nutrition no doubt, but cheap. We were aware that to eat well meant bigger food bills and emptier pockets. We therefore decided against opening a standard town centre health shop selling a few items in small bags and went for a big warehouse out of town, kept our packaging costs low and had no share owners to hand a dividend out to each year. In a word we kept our overheads LOW. This way we could provide good food at reasonable prices. On top of this we offered goods in bulk if required for even lower prices.
Our first concern is of course to sell the sorts of foods that you want to buy. However, over the years, many of our customers have got to rely on us for selling quality food that takes into account good nutrition, environmental concern and compassionate practice. This is a huge compliment of course but it is also a responsibility. We have therefore developed stocking guidlines over the years which we always endeavor to keep to.
Wherever possible, we try to obtain an Organic equivalent to any of the foodstuffs we sell. In the early years this was difficult but now Organic foods are well represented in all product areas. at point of sale, Organic food is of course more expensive, however, when taking into account the cost of environmental damage caused from non-organic food production (a cost that we all pay for in our taxes/rates etc, ) organic food is both environmentally AND financially more sustainable.
By the 1980's the state of our processed food was such that you needed to be a chemist to understand the ingredients on a label. Things have improved over the years but progress is slow. At Leicester Wholefood Co-operative it is an absolute policy to avoid any colouring, flavouring, emulsifier or preservative that does not originate from natural sources. There is only one exception to this rule; the passing of some of our dried fruit through a sulphur dioxide chamber which acts as an anti-oxidant;. This is clearly labelled and in some cases alternatives are provided.
In particular, we avoid the artificial colourings (Azo dyes) now widely accepted to be a factor in causing hyperactivity in children