1.  Why Organic?

Whether in the spiritual or physical plane ‘we are what we eat’. All our energy is ultimately sourced from food. The nutritional value of the food we eat, its ecological and social costs (the chemicals and processes used in growing it, the distance it travels before reaching our plates), and our relationship to the producers—all affect us.

Modern chemical-based farming depletes soil fertility, impoverishes farmers and has made them dependent on corporations for all farm inputs from hybrid seeds to fertilizers and pesticides. Pesticide residues left on our produce cause innumerable health hazards, besides the ill effects of these toxins contaminating our water resources due to run-off and seepage into the ground. Ultimately these toxic chemicals enter the eco-system and cause harm to the entire food chain, from insects and birds to the larger predator species.

Organic food is healthier for our bodies, better for farmers’ livelihoods and does not destroy ecological balance as does chemical-based farming. Organic farmers use low-external input, sustainable techniques and thus incur less debt since they control most farming inputs. Thus encouraging small, local organic farming is essential to restoring our food, livelihood and health security. Organic food tastes better too!

2.  How do you know your products are Organic?

reStore prefers to source products through organizations that promote organic and traditional farming methods, and assist with market linkages for small and marginalized farmers. The organizations through which we source are well established and respected, and some are considered pioneers in their field. Several of them are involved with establishing affordable locally led organic certification procedures among small farmers. In some cases we also source directly from individual or groups of farmers who are well-known organic producers.

We personally visit the organizations and farming areas from which we source reStore products, and develop a strong relationship that goes beyond mere business and are hence confident of the deep commitment that the producers  have towards organic agriculture.

3.  Why is Organic food generally higher-priced than conventional?

A farmer who has converted to organic will gradually see an increase in productivity per acre, especially for food crops. However the following factors lead to higher prices for organic foods:

a. Subsidies available from the government for chemical farming are not available for organic farming.

b. Higher transportation costs due to less established distribution network.

c. Organic retail business typically does not go through the wholesaler / distributor networks that squeeze out the lowest possible price from farmers. On the contrary businesses like reStore have a goal of paying fair prices to farmers to enhance the livelihood opportunities of small and medium growers.

4.  Is reStore a business? What does 'not-for-profit' business imply?

Yes, the retail component of reStore is a business. The goal of the business is to promote a different paradigm of consumption—one that consciously promotes livelihoods for the marginalized sections of society, and enhances human health and that of the planet. Not-for-profit implies that

a. Profit-making is not a primary motive of the business. But we expect it to pay for itself and grow.

b. Proceeds of the business will not financially benefit the promoters. Instead any profit that accrues will be used only towards the objectives of reStore (simply put, to restore health livelihoods and nature!).

5.  Who runs reStore? What is the organizational structure?

reStore now has a core group of 3-4 members including two voluntary directors, who set directions and take policy decisions.  We have a staff of eight members. Decisions are taken jointly by the staff members, volunteer and directors. We also have an open structure where any committed member of the community can suggest and anchor projects.

6.  What else does reStore do besides retail?

reStore hosts activities related to urban sustainability, melas, documentary film screenings, discussions, workshops and so on. We seek changes in society by being an organization that promotes transparent inclusive decision making and personal development (Sociocracy, NLP and NVC)

7.  What is the role of volunteers in reStore?

a. Connection. reStore seeks to deepen the connection that we as consumers have with our food, its producers, the soil it grows on and with nature itself. Volunteering also serves to increase our appreciation of the hidden environmental and social costs of the things we consume. Where does it come from? What goes into its production? How is it processed, and packaged. How much does it 'really' cost?

b. Affordable, Accessible. We hope that by greater volunteerism among consumers, we can make eco-friendly conscious consumption a more affordable and widespread phenomenon. Thus, every hour that a volunteer spends in cleaning grains or vegetables, packaging, billing, writing for the website, maintaining accounts, etc., will serve in this direction.

c. Fun. We seek to open up spaces where people can learn new things and importantly—have fun. Setting up bazaars as a group, working with our hands, interacting with others in a truly friendly atmosphere, etc.

8.  What kind of work can volunteers do?

Even though volunteerism is one of the pillars of our organization, this does not imply that we are unprofessionally run! In fact professionals in fields such as Marketing, Retail, Website development, Editing and so forth offer their valuable time and services to reStore.

Whether you can help for just two hours per week, or many more, we can find something to suit your time availability and interests! Some examples:

a. Running bazaars—cleaning and weighing vegetables, interacting with visitors, billing and bagging.

b. Farmer verification visits

c. Maintaining mailing lists and other databases.

d. Creating posters, information sheets and other material about Organics.

e. Contributing articles for our website.

f. Organizing awareness campaigns around the themes of food-safety, livelihoods, human rights and conservation of nature.

9.  I want to volunteer. How do I start?

Great! Send an email to restorechennai AT gmail DOT com.
Tell us a little about yourself—a paragraph should do! And also the hours you are available and your area of interest. We’ll put you in touch with the core team member leading that area.

10.  Does reStore have a branch in __________

No and we do not intend to start any. We will be happy to share our learning and approach in case you are starting or are part of a similar community-based organization / store in your locality. The sharing would be about our experience in working in the areas of urban sustainability, community involvement, overall economics of such a not-for profit  etc. rather than lists of organic producers and commercial aspects.

11. Can reStore help me source organic products for a shop I want to start?

We do not undertake wholesale distribution of organic groceries. For this, you could consider contacting our sister organization Organic Farmer's Market


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