Product Selection Guidelines

OUR MISSION: Using food as a force for good—at our tables, in our community, and for our planet.

PURPOSE OF GUIDELINES: In order to enhance our mission, support our ends, and to meet our community’s needs, South Philly Food Co-op (SPFC) has established product selection guidelines to guide and prioritize both the suppliers we work with and the products we purchase and sell. Over time we expect that the majority if not all of the food we sell will comply with these guidelines. To accomplish these goals, we will work to encourage local farmers and producers to increase their understanding of our values and sourcing priorities to move toward more organic, sustainable, ethical, and wholesome methods and ingredients. 


FRESH, WHOLESOME, & MINIMALLY PROCESSED - South Philly Food Co-op is committed to providing our community access to fresh, healthful foods. We offer an abundant selection of fresh vegetables and fruits, and source packaged and bulk foods that are wholesome, high-quality, and minimally processed. Learn more by reading our full set of guidelines. We categorize our products into one of three categories: prioritize, minimize, or avoid. 



LOCALLY & REGIONALLY PRODUCED - We support our local  and regional economy, by sourcing products as close to our store as possible and by building lasting relationships with our farmers, ranchers, and producers. 

We have 4 categories to classify our local products: Locally Grown, Locally Produced, Regionally Grown, and Regionally Produced. 

  • LOCAL: Products that are grown or produced within 100  miles of the store. 
  • REGIONAL: Products grown or produced in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, or Washington D.C.



ORGANIC and/or SUSTAINABLE - We prioritize organic and sustainable agriculture by supporting certified organic farmers and producers and others who work hard to ensure sustainability in operations. 

  • ORGANIC: We source as many products as possible from sources that have grown/produced them using organic methods*, particularly when they are sourced from a distributor rather than directly from a local farmer or producer. 
  • SUSTAINABLE: We support producers that focus on building soil health, water quality, and biodiversity, while refraining from the use of synthetic pesticides and herbicides as well as excessive monocropping. 

When an item is available from a local source that does not adhere to organic methods, we will evaluate the overall qualities of each product and select which we will carry if we do not have space for both options. When neither organic nor local options are available or if the price of a similar organic product is prohibitive, we may carry conventional products that otherwise support our Product Selection Guidelines. 

ECONOMIC & SOCIAL EQUITY:  We prioritize products and companies that use fair-trade and good employment practices, build equity and business ownership amongst marginalized groups, and/or are democratically owned and controlled. 

  • FAIR TRADE - We prioritize fair-trade products and ingredients when available, especially Fair Trade Certified chocolate, coffee, sugar, and bananas but also expanding our scope of fair-trade to domestic trade including the fair treatment of farm-workers and others engaged in the production of our goods.
  • SUPPORTING WOMEN, PEOPLE OF COLOR, and LGBTQ PERSONS  - We prioritize products grown or produced by businesses that are majority-owned or led by People of Color, women, members of the LGBTQ community, and/or other marginalized groups.  
  • COOPERATIVELY & COLLECTIVELY PRODUCED - We support the sixth cooperative principle, Cooperation among Cooperatives, by prioritizing products grown or produced by co-ops or other collective enterprises that utilize democratic governance or management methods whenever possible. 

ANIMAL WELFARE: We prioritize products that have been produced with animal welfare in mind - meaning that, we seek out items that offer animals a healthful diet and environment and space to engage in natural behaviors. When possible we will offer a cage-free and/or pasture-raised or grass-fed option for key items.


OUR CONCERNS: We minimize  artificial ingredients, hormones, antibiotics, carcinogens, GMOs, unfair labor practices, animal testing, and excess packaging. 

ARTIFICIAL COLORS, FLAVORS, PRESERVATIVES, ADDITIVES, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP or HYDROGENATED OILS - Our goal is to avoid products containing any of these artificial ingredients. Products that do not contain artificial ingredients will be prioritized. In the event that a local option is available that uniquely speaks to our local food heritage, we may consider adding it to our mix but only after careful consideration.

HORMONES & ANTIBIOTICS - Our goal is to avoid carrying meat, eggs, and dairy produced from animals that have been treated with hormones such as rBGH or rBST. Producers that do not use hormones and antibiotics will be prioritized, except where antibiotic free alternatives are not available. In the event that a local option is available but not antibiotic free, we will strive to offer both the local product and a non-local, antibiotic-free option when space allows.

CARCINOGENS, GENE OR HORMONE DISRUPTORS - Our goal is to avoid carrying products with ingredients that contain carcinogens and gene or hormone disruptors while recognizing that new scientific research is continually coming to light. We further work to limit the use of plastic by encouraging customers to bring their own containers and shop in bulk.

GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS (GMOs) - Our goal is to avoid carrying products that contain genetically modified ingredients. This means carefully looking into products that commonly are grown from GMO seed including: soy, corn, cotton, and canola in order to ensure they are either organically grown or certified GMO free.

UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICES - Our goal is to avoid products that are produced by companies found to be using unfair and unethical labor practices. We will utilize well-researched and documented information sourced from reputable, established labor and human-rights organizations engaged in raising the bar on labor issues on a regional, national, or international scope.

ANIMAL TESTING- Our goal is to avoid selling any products that have been tested on animals.

EXCESS PACKAGING  - Our goal is to minimize excess packaging. We prioritize products that are packaged in materials that are manufactured from recycled and/or recyclable, compostable, or otherwise able to be disposed of in an environmentally sound manner. We encourage our customers to shop in bulk and bring bags/containers to minimize packaging. We sell cloth and reusable grocery bags to encourage these efforts.


OUR RESOLVE: We avoid all tobacco products and items that are on safety recall.

TOBACCO or NICOTINE PRODUCTS - We will not sell any tobacco or nicotine products.

PRODUCTS ON FOOD SAFETY or PRODUCT RECALLS - Product recalls are all too common in the food industry. We take your health seriously. In the unfortunate event that any item we carry has been recalled it will be immediately pulled from our shelves and we will email an announcement of the product recall to everyone on our email list.

Note: The term Organic is used for products are certified as such by the USDA or which have been produced using organic methods but are exempt from certification due to being under $5,000 in gross revenues a year. Organic certification ensures that certain criteria have been met to produce food within certain limitations including the prohibition of synthetic pesticides and herbicides. We recognize that at this time, some of our local farmers/producers are not certified organic and when they are not, we will work to encourage sustainable methods.Information regarding the ingredients of products and nutritional information will be provided. Whenever possible we will provide information on research regarding food safety, health, nutrition, farming & manufacturing processes, the treatment of farm-workers, and the care of livestock. Customer requests will be regularly reviewed and considered  including requests for hard to find food items for those with food allergies, or on health related or otherwise restricted diets. If you have a product you would like to buy from our store that is currently not offered, please talk to a staff member about the possibility of special ordering, or other options for local purchasing of, the item (usually by case quantity) or fill out a  customer comment card to suggest we carry it in the store.