Earthy Food Store
- Claire Sawers
- 8 May 2008
The good life
Claire Sawers discovers a wholesome, ethical food venture where the emphasis is on great taste and everything comes with a clear conscience
Despite the very best and utterly wholesome intentions to stock up on organic cheeses at the weekly farmers’ market, or to take a drive to the country to buy veg with the soil still hanging off it, sometimes a long lie or a busy week gets in the way. Luckily, help is at hand in the shape of Earthy, a new ‘food hub’ in the southside of Edinburgh. Opened earlier this month, the mini supermarket stocks a very clear-conscienced supply of local, seasonal, organic, Fair Trade or free-range produce, cherrypicked by a team of four dedicated foodies. ‘If it doesn’t taste great, it’s not getting in the door,’ says co-director Dirk Douglas, who has scoured the best suppliers, from organic cheesemakers 20 miles down the road, to artisan olive oil co-ops in Spain.
The idea is to provide a one-stop shop for those who would rather avoid chain supermarkets, but don’t always have time to go straight to the source. With shelves (lovingly handmade from two East Lothian red wood trees, naturally) piled high with meat, game, fish, cheeses, breads and cakes, Earthy aims to bridge the gap between small producers and city centre shoppers. Realising that supermarkets often favour suppliers who can provide wholesale quantities, Douglas and his three business partners have provided the missing link between small-scale farmers and time-stretched shoppers with their heart in the right place.
‘I hate to use the word “passionate”, but this really is a way of life for us,’ says Douglas. ‘All four of us love talking about food, and really care about where it comes from.’ Two years ago, Douglas was a self-confessed ‘townie’, with not even the faintest idea of how to mow a lawn, never mind grow the perfect purple sprouting broccoli. After moving to East Lothian, he began buying boxes from Phantassie Organic Farm in East Linton, and tending a small vegetable patch in his garden. The good life grew on him, and he joined forces with Phantassie’s owner Patricia Stephen after spotting a gap in the market. Chris Purser, formerly of the Grow Wild box scheme initiative in Broxburn, and Pete Jackson, a horticulturalist, came on board next and Earthy was born.
As of next month, the shop will be launching an online delivery service, where customers can build a shopping list from their selection of everything from Fair Trade wines and toiletries to organic herbs and wild boar burgers. Earthy will then prepare the order for pick-up, or deliver to your door. It’s hoped this service will also be popular with Edinburgh restaurateurs, who Douglas says are often keen to use local produce but find it too time consuming to do the necessary leg work when finding suppliers.
‘We wanted to open a place that was planet friendly, where we’d done all the vetting for you, so you don’t have to scan labels to check it’s GM free and ethically produced,’ says Douglas. ‘But we’re also the kind of shop where we like to smile at our customers and say hello. It’s not rocket science, we just believe in being nice, honest and selling amazing food.’
Earthy Food Store (www.earthy.co.uk), 33-41 Ratcliffe Terrace, 0131 667 2967, open Mon–Sat, 9am–7.30pm, Sun, 10am–5pm. To celebrate their opening, Earthy are having a Sunday Brunch Tasting on Sun 11 May, noon–4pm, with food tastings and a chance to meet the owners and suppliers.