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Suzanna Tang of online marketplace Urban Origins on the advantages of going local
It’s good to buy local. Not only do you get to support local brands and businesses, you don’t need to have stuff delivered from overseas (and end up spending way too much).
Besides, the local alternatives are better. In fact, you’d probably be amazed with the items that are now available in your area – and in such good quality too.
Take the food in Singapore, for example.
“There are over 220 farms in Singapore, so people are actually surprised at the variety of leafy greens and fruiting vegetables that we actually grow here,” says Suzanna Tang, the co-founder and CEO of Urban Origins.
“There are people who love trying out different varieties of local vegetables.”
Are you one of them?
Then add online marketplaces like Urban Origins to your list of places to go to in Singapore, and lessen the time and effort it takes to look for the products you need – they offer sustainable produce and food items from local farms and businesses. Aside from veggies, they also have snacks, sauces and spreads, grains and noodles, and other pantry staples.
Did you know they have locally made kombucha, wines, chilli, jams, nut butters, and plant-based cheeses too?
And if you’re a fan of nut milks (like Suzanna), you’re in for a treat.
“Through our partners, we discovered that the nut milks you purchase from the supermarket have very low nut content as compared to some local, freshly made options,” she says.
“More often than not, locally produced food options are fresher, healthier and more sustainable for the environment. Knowing that there are such locally made options makes me really happy.”
More local perks
Through Suzanna and Urban Origins, we learn what it takes to find and provide locally made products to people.
“I get to collaborate with urban farmers and local food producers who want to bring the best types of food to a wider community,” she says.
“I also get to meet startups in the sustainability space and learn the best practices from them to apply to Urban Origins. This is important because sustainability is at the core of our operations.”
(Suzanna tells us that they use minimal packaging and deliver in electric vans.)
But it’s not all easy and smooth-sailing. Just listen to Suzanna talk about…
• The tough part of the job
“I think it is still an obstacle to change the mindsets of consumers and incentivise them to make more conscious purchases,” she says.
“In the corporate space, though, many companies are becoming more aware of their carbon footprint and switching to more green ways of procuring and running their business.”
• And the fun part
It’s curating Urban Origins’ product selections.
“We are able to discover new brands that are out in the market and share them with our followers,” she says.
“From user feedback, we also learn a lot about which brands to look for and which products will delight our community. This process has also helped us to understand the products that are in demand today, and led us to prioritise healthier, sustainable and more nutritious options.”
We can join in on the fun
Because we can curate our own selections for a healthier and tastier pantry, fridge or kitchen too. Here are Suzanna’s suggestions.
#1 Go local
We just have to repeat it. “Going local means supporting small-holder farmers and food producers that have dreams of growing their business, so that more people get to taste their fresher and more wholesome food.”
#2 Be inclusive
“Check out the ingredients. Is it suitable for almost anyone? Is it halal, vegan, gluten-free, etc?”
#3 Try it first
“Smaller tasting sizes are great, especially if the brands are not familiar to most people.”
#4 Be aware of the “deadline”
“Note down the expiry dates to ensure less food wastage.”
#5 Get complementing items
“For example, plant-based cheese + sourdough crackers.”
Why not spread the fun (and the love) to include other people? I think it’s exciting to create bundles and send these off as care packages, so that your friends and loved ones don’t have to think about their next meal. It’s especially helpful during these tough times as well. I for one would love to receive one. Who wouldn’t?
#1 Find out what they like, and then…
#2 Give them a locally made alternative instead
This also applies to the “usual items they get”.
“For example, if the person loves dark chocolate, get one that is artisanal and made locally. If they like kombucha, get it from a local brand.”
More yummy ideas
You can also cook for them, and for you and your family. Suzanna swears by these combinations of products and ingredients for simple, easy and delicious meals.
• Noodles tossed in ready-made sauces with mushrooms
• Bread with kale, plant-based cheese and chilli
• Salads, with greens grown in Singapore
Wondering which items Suzanna can’t live without? “Fresh vegetables, sourdough crackers and bread – because I consume them on a daily basis.”
What do you eat regularly? Given the choices and their high quality, maybe it’s time to update your grocery list to include local items so that you don’t have to go far and wide just to have what you want – and need. This applies to wherever you happen to be, and not just in SG.
What is sustainability?
We’ve been hearing this word a lot lately. (At least I have.)
There are similarities to people’s interpretations of it, but some definitions still differ. If you look back on my posts, I’ve already asked a few people to tell me what sustainability means to them.
For the sake of tradition, let’s get Suzanna’s take.
“To live sustainably means to be kind and responsible human beings. It is to be aware that our actions bear consequences, and that what we do today affects future generations,” she says.
“I hope that people will start to consume and purchase more consciously, and embed the 3Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle/regenerate (in this order) – into their lives.”
It sounds simple – maybe as simple as the act of buying local? Who knows? You might find it quite doable and easy. Satisfying and fulfilling. Try it and see.
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