friends of the earth 312 Smith St, Collingwood

Like a Depression-era wife, my cupboards are slowly accumulating a mountain of used jars, plastic containers and paper bags. It’s all for a good cause though – I’m a Friend of the Earth.

Friends of the Earth Melbourne is a cafe, bookstore, clothing store and food co-op rolled into one hippie-smelling establishment. The lunch plates of vegetarian food are very popular and the organic fruit and vegetable selection is comparable in price to Queen Victoria Market. The best thing is their large range of bulk foods, where you bring your own containers (or take a used one from their collection) and fill them up with any quantity of food and household products which are sold by weight.

My personal recommendations:

  • organic chamomile tea. If you compare the jar of normal chamomile tea and the organic stuff, you can smell the difference – the organic tea is much more fragrant. RM and I have a cup of tea most nights to promote calm sleep and the tea’s distinctive sedative effect is quite incredible. I also like the organic peppermint tea.
  • dried goods. I make my own granola and Friends of the Earth has the cheapest organic rolled oats I’ve found ($4.55/kg). To make up the rest of the granola I use pepitas ($16.10/kg), dried organic apricots ($15.40/kg), organic sultanas ($11.90/kg), shredded coconut ($6.08/kg) and a combination of nuts. I also buy all my seeds, lentils, dried beans, rice and sugars from Friends of the Earth.
  • liquids. The granola is finished off with organic honey ($12/kg). I also recommend the organic coconut butter for cooking ($23.66), as well as the hulled tahini for making hommus. When my pantry stocks run low I’ll be trying out the soy sauces, vinegars and oils, particularly the Mount Zero olive oil and Spiral Foods organic tamari.
  • cleaning products. I decant the dishwashing liquid (5.28/kg) and handwash into pretty glass bottles from IKEA. We also use the environmentally friendly dishwashing powder, laundry powder, (nice smelling) laundry liquid, general all-purpose cleaner plus copious amounts of bicarb soda ($2.20/kg) and white vinegar ($1.27/kg).

For all my other bulk food/organic food needs, I head straight across the road to Organic Wholefoods.