One of my favourite stores to shop at is The Source Bulk Foods in Brunswick, currently the biggest specialised bulk food retailer in Australia. The Source has many outlets around town and also around the country. They are a plastic bag and packaging free store and encourage customers to bring in their own containers.
The products are in storage units you access yourself. If, for example, you’re not using your own container for dry goods, you take a paper bag and fill it with your item. Each item has a number code written on the label, so you write this code on your paper bag and the staff weigh the bag at the register, plugging in the code. Easy!
Not all of the products are vegan but everything has a label on it indicating vegan (or not) status. Not all items though, for instance I buy the Australian smoked almonds which are vegan but not labelled as such. I’m using that as an example because although you may think smoked almonds are vegan, some of them sold in packets in stores and supermarkets contain milk powder.
There are also liquid products like syrups, oils, vinegars and more. Again, you can take in your own bottle or you can purchase one in store. There are bottles available for things like tamari or you can buy glass jars that can store the tahini.
For spices, spice containers are available to purchase (though I just use a paper bag). The spices are up on a higher shelf and you use a little scoop to measure them out.
I often buy my flours from The Source such as spelt and buckwheat. I’ve seen teff, bakers flour, gluten free flour, banana flour and much more. There are some pasta varieties like buckwheat. There are legumes and pulses, grains and seeds, nuts and nut meals. Sugars and cacao too.
There are dried fruits, muesli blends and of lots of chocolate. I love the dried veggie chips and puffy almond crackers. You can also make fresh peanut butter or buy some pre-made.
And of course, my kitchen staple: nutritional yeast! I received confirmation that the nooch sold here is B12 fortified.
As well as your kitchen needs, there are bathroom and cleaning products available in bulk like shampoo you can put in to your own bottle.
We’re making more of a firm effort here at home to cut down on our use of plastics and packaging. It’s great to be able to go in to a store where you are encouraged to bring your own containers and I’m pleased now that other shops I go to, like the bakery, are happy to have your bring in your own bags. Some aren’t on board of course, but stores like The Source are setting a standard I hope others try to achieve. I know I am plennnnty guilty of having bought those big plastic bags of bulk beans and lentils in the past, then they get forgotten in the pantry and by the time I remember them, they’re way past their best before date. With meal planning for the family now, and trying to cut down on food wastage and unnecessary packaging, The Source is handy because I buy just what I need and don’t have to worry about the packaging.
I’ve visited the Prahran store as well as Brunswick and the staff have always been friendly and helpful. The Brunswick store owners are opening a second store in Moonee Ponds too.
The Source Bulk Foods Brunswick is located at 112 Sydney Road.
For nation wide stores, visit http://thesourcebulkfoods.com.au/all-our-stores/