The ethical food trend has hit Australia, finally!
With obesity rates continuing to rise and the reports of astonishing food waste statistics, it’s about time Australians started to focus on ways we can eat better, more sustainably and more ethically.
Sydney’s fast growing dining scene, including eccentric pop-up cafes and ornate restaurants, has seen an increase in all-round more sustainable practices. From sourcing local and organic vegetables, to fair trade coffee and philanthropic dining experiences, here are some of Sydney’s top ethical eateries that give back to the community and to the environment.
This Mexican food chain whose tagline is ‘Mexican with a mission’ is Australia’s first philanthropic fast food franchise, and for every burrito or bowl purchased one plate of food is donated to someone in need. Consumers at Zambrero’s 110 restaurants across Australia, New Zealand Thailand and Ireland have, to date, provided over 8 million meals to the developing world.
The Sydney branches are located in Darlinghurst, Coogee and Lidcombe, and serve all of your favourite Mexican delights, including vegan and vegetarian options. Not looking for a full meal? Purchase one of their food muesli bars in store and Zambrero will donate one breakfast meal to an underprivileged Australian.
Situated in the community of Sydney’s inner-west, Lentil As Anything is a not for profit restaurant whose main mission is to provide wholesome and nutritious meals to the community, where money is not a concern. The meals are provided with the assistance of volunteers in the community and instead of a price tag, they only request is a contribution based on the individual’s unique experience.
With the successful philosophy running in six locations throughout Australia, the restaurant and organisation promote the values of human dignity, justice, hope, compassion and community, and show us how, through these values, we can create a giving society where everyone is treated equally and provided equal opportunity.
Photo: Lentil As Anything
Gratia, Latin for gratitude, is bringing the philanthropic café concept to Sydney’s chic Surry Hills. Sydney’s first 'profit for purpose' café is giving away 100% of their profit to charity. How does that work? Pretty simple really. Once the bills and staff are paid, the rest of the money goes to people who need it more than we do.
Half of all donations received through Gratia sales will go to the project’s own foundation, The Pure Foundation. The other half will go to charities decided by the customers themselves. Customers can either choose from a charity or nominate their own. With all day breakfast from 8 to 3pm, stop in and help to support the causes they, and you, care about.
The Stirrup Café is a small coffee shop in the Addison Road Community Centre of Marrickville. They source fair trade coffee from Papua New Guinea and Kenya, creating a positive impact on the lives of farmers and their villages. Through their purchase of 1 kilogram of coffee beans, $4.50 goes to a local farmer and $1 directly to the community where the coffee is grown. It might not seem like a lot but it is a fair and decent wage compared to many exploited coffee farmers around the world. The café also partners with TAFE and SSI to provide barista training for young people, the unemployed, refugees and recent migrants.
You can find the café open on weekdays and Sundays at the front entrance to the Addison Road Community Centre.
Earth To Table is an organic, raw, vegan café on Bronte Rd in Bondi Junction. Created by Australia’s own leading raw food chef Julie Mitsios, the café is famous for Julie’s mouth-watering dairy, wheat and sugar free cakes that look so much unhealthier for you than they actually are. How she manages to create such a range of flavours and mixtures that are guilt-free is beyond me but I love her for it!
With each dish delicately crafted using locally sourced organic ingredients, it’s like an artist has painted the dish in front of you.
Photo: Earth To Table
Ruby Lane is an organic eatery in Sydney’s seaside town of Manly. From local artisan breads, to pasture raised and organic eggs, to organic, fair trade coffee, eating ethically just got a lot easier.
Owner, Phil Dawson, is passionate about inspiring others to make informed choices about the food they eat and providing consumers with more ethical and sustainable choices when dining. Not only does Ruby Lane practice sustainability in their food, they also contribute to a number of local community initiatives helping both the people and the local sea life. By dining at Ruby Lane, some of your money goes to the Sealife Trust, helping to preserve the turtles of the Northern Beaches, but that’s just one of the many reasons to love Ruby Lane.
The O Café is your one stop organic shop in Sydney’s Surry Hills. Serving a range of organic, superfood smoothies, raw salads, soups, stir fry’s and even sushi, if you’re looking for an organic concoction this is where you will find it.
Try their famous gluten free buckwheat pancakes for breakfast, and add a fair trade coffee to your order while you’re at it. And then, when you’ve finished indulging on that guilt free, chemical free meal, take some time to browse through the range of organic superfoods, snacks, sweets, coffee and tea products in store. Did I mention organic chocolate brownies?
I just love the concept of this sustainable café in the heart of Marrickville in Sydney’s inner-west. The popular Cornersmith Cafe is all about sustainable and ethical food production and business practices, which include sourcing products from small-scale growers in the local community and surrounds.
Their menus are seasonal which means none of this importing everything just to satisfy our cravings, but rather using what we can grow in our current climate and creating dishes that work with what is available, having a much lesser impact on the environment. The café also does their own pickling and run regular pickling workshops for both adults and children.
Interested in free pickles? Check out their boards for a list of vegetables they are looking for and swap your home-grown veggies in for a jar of pickles.
Also situated in Marrickville, Two Chaps is famous for its coffee, breakfast and bread. They bake all their bread on-site and you can choose between durum semolina loaf and ciabatta, using white or wholemeal organic stone-milled flour.
Participating in this month’s Give a Fork campaign, as well as a receiver of Oz Harvest’s food collection, Two Chaps’ ethics and sustainable practises make it a prime contender for one of Sydney’s most ethical eateries. Visit the café, which is fitted with rustic, second hand décor and an open aired kitchen, and enjoy some of their exquisite, cruelty-free vegetarian meals for breaky or lunch.
Know of any other ethical eateries in Sydney? Get in touch and I will feature you in the post. Alternatively if you’re heading abroad check out my 'Ethical Eateries' series from around the world.