Merchandising Policy

Our buyers know that our shoppers trust us to bring good products to our shelves. While we emphasize foods that are nutritious, minimally processed, organically grown, free of artificial additives and grown or produced in ways that support good health and welfare for people, animals and the environment, we are committed to providing reasonably priced options that allow our co-op to be a grocery store that is truly welcoming and available to all members of our community.

Across every department in our store, we use the following criteria to choose the products we sell (and choose not to sell):

Products BriarPatch Seeks to Sell

  • Produce and products produced using sustainable farming practices including organically grown agriculture, including products on their way to being certified organic
  • Products from companies that raise or treat animals humanely
  • Products that are locally produced and/or locally grown
  • Products with minimal, recycled or recyclable packaging
  • Products from companies that are committed to fair labor practices socially responsible, including those that pay their employees equitably and/or have hiring practices that promote diversity and inclusion
  • Foods that have no artificial additives
  • Products free of GMOs, including those verified by 3rd parties such as Non-GMO Project Verified
  • Dairy and meat raised without Growth hormones, rBHSt
  • Wellness products free of these ingredients – click here
  • We seek to sell products from businesses owned by or who employ those who have been systemically and culturally oppressed in American history, particularly People of Color and the LGBT+ community
Products BriarPatch Will Sell Until a Better Alternative with Preferred
Criteria are Available
  • Products in non-recyclable packaging
  • Products with genetically modified or engineered material listed as minor ingredients or GMO status is unavailable for minor ingredients.
  • Products from companies in transition to “non-GMO” status
  • Products from companies where there are claims of human rights or animal abuse and/or are being investigated

Products BriarPatch Will Not Sell

  • Products with shelf-packaging made from Styrofoam (shipping and packaging materials are an exception when no alternative is available)
  • Products from companies that use animals for testing
  • Irradiated products
  • Processed tobacco products
  • Products from companies with known human rights violations or animal abused tobacco products

What Do We Mean When We Say…

Fair Labor Practices: There is no child labor, forced labor, human trafficking, abuse or harassment in a product’s supply chain. We expect our vendors to meet or exceed legal requirements for labor practices, worker health and safety and housing. There are particular products whose supply chains we (and our shoppers) are especially aware are subject to exceptionally harmful labor practices, and we make a point to only carry (and call out) those products that are committed to Fair Labor Practices, like our chocolates, Equal Exchange bananas and avocados and sugar.

Sustainable Farming Practices: Farming methods that are economically viable, ecologically sound and protect public health. Examples of sustainable farming practices include using renewable energy, like solar panels, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), and crop rotation and diversification and regenerative farming.

Raising and Treating Animals Humanely (Meat, Eggs and Dairy): Animals a) have adequate access to wholesome, nutritious food and a clean water supply; b) have safe housing or pasture and protective housing that allows access to light, air and sufficient freedom of movement; c) are proactively monitored, and treated by licensed veterinarians to ensure good health and d) are cared for by management that is thoroughly trained in animal husbandry and welfare, maintains animal health plan records and is committed to the welfare of animals.

Non-GMO: Products must not be made with ingredients derived from crops grown from genetically modified seed or animals. There are about 26 crops that have genetically engineered varieties, but they make up a large percentage of U.S. agriculture: canola, corn, soy, sugar beets. The Non GMO Project Verified seal’s standards requires that when these crops are used for food products, every lot
has to be tested for GMOs. To prevent non GMO/GMO contamination, the standards require procedures for cleaning facilities and keeping non GMO and GMO ingredients separate. A NonGMO Project Verified seal on animal products not only means that the animals weren’t genetically modified, but that the animal feed they ate was tested for GMOs and contained less than 5% GMO material. Pricing currently only tags Non GMO Project Verified, but we acknowledge other non GMO certifying agencies. Similar to the Organic certification process, non GMO verified is an expensive process that many smaller producers cannot afford even though their practices are identical to those who are certified.

Additional Meat and Seafood Buying Criteria

We give local and regional ranchers priority if they meet our criteria and can keep up with our customer demand. All meats must meet the following criteria:

  • All meat is from pastured or free-range animals
  • All animals are raised on vegetarian diets
  • No use of antibiotics or growth-promoting hormones
  • No feed containing animal by-products
  • No artificial food colorings or preservatives
  • No meat or dairy from cloned animals or their offspring

We offer a variety of seafood and label each product with a color-coded labeling system as defined by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch recommendations. The Seafood Watch program helps consumers and businesses choose seafood that’s fished or farmed in ways that support a healthy ocean, now and for future generations. We will sell seafood that ranks yellow (Best Alternative) or green (Best Choice) under the Seafood Watch program. If there is demand for a product that is not yet rated by Seafood Watch, BriarPatch will offer it if we feel their practices are well managed and their quality is exceptional.

Seafood Watch Rating System

Green means “Best Choice”

Buy first, they’re well managed and caught or farmed in ways that cause little harm to habitats or other wildlife.

Yellow means “Good Alternative”

Buy, but be aware there are concerns with how they’re caught or farmed.

Red means “Avoid”

Don’t buy, they’re overfished or caught or farmed in ways that harm other marine life or the environment.

Sustainable Seafood – Seafood Watch defines sustainable seafood as seafood from sources, whether fished or farmed that can maintain or increase production without jeopardizing the structure and function of affected ecosystems.

The key issues we look at when evaluating the sustainability of fisheries are:

  1. Impacts of the fishery on the species under assessment
  2. Impacts on other capture species
  3. Effectiveness of management
  4. Impacts on the habitat and ecosystem

Would you like to be a supplier for the Patch?

BriarPatch Food Co-op is a great place to cultivate and grow the brands of independent producers that make exceptional products. If you think that sounds like you, read more here.