Time Out Melbourne

Smith Street is home to an ethical trader that allows you to buy all your health goodies in bulk

Collingwood, you could be forgiven for not knowing a goldmine of good health was within your midst. The Friends of the Earth Food Co-op has lived at 312 Smith Street for 18 years, but the shop is rather concealed from passers by behind the health food café at the front. Not wanting you to miss out on the spoils within, Time Out has taken it upon itself to be your guide.

The operation started life in a house in Carlton in 1975, then moved to what is now the Little Creatures site in Fitzroy, before being priced out and settling in Smith Street. Upstairs are the Friends of the Earth campaign offices, with current projects focusing on the environmental cost of coal and uranium mining, and the depletion of forests. The collective consists of a few staff and over 30 volunteers a week (the shop and café in particular attract a fair few travellers, who are tempted by the 15 percent off stock and free lunch).

All edible produce is organic or biodynamic, and foods that have become recently fashionable, such as goji berries, have always been available here.

“We introduced quinoa into our café mix plates eight years ago,” coordinator Beth Camerson says of the superfood, and she explains that the members of the co-op know the back-story of every grain they stock, taking the time to source each ethically produced food themselves (with the emphasis on Victorian producers).

When coming to Friends of the Earth, you’re advised to bring your own bags, Tupperware and jars (although you can use theirs), because in the style of an old-fashioned grocer, you weigh out what you need – whether you want to buy in bulk or just have a dribble of something or other for dinner. Seeing items like organic teas available by the bucketload is a bit of a pleasant shock when you’re used to shelling out $15 for a small pre-boxed branded tea. In fact, most items in here, if you could find them in a supermarket, would be on the out-of-your-league shelf.

You’ll also find a large section of the shop devoted to beauty products: detergents, shampoos, conditioners, soaps, body lotions and more, and a noticeboard advertising rallies and spiritual speed dating. It’s not hard to believe that the clientele – be they lecturers, architects, students, parents – come from all over Melbourne.

Also worth mentioning, the staff are always on hand to advise you on what best to buy if you’re vegan or have food allergies, and if you join Friends of the Earth you’ll receive five percent off all your shopping.

First published on . Updated on .

By Jenny Valentish   |   Photos by Graham Denholm

Friends of the Earth Food Co-op details

Address
312 Smith St, Collingwood 3066

Telephone 03 9417 4382

Price per person including drinks Up to $50

Open Mon-Fri 10am-6pm; Sat 10am-5pm; Sun 11am-4pm

Friends of the Earth Food Co-op website

Friends of the Earth Food Co-op map

Report a problem with this page

Restaurants and bars nearby

Gorski and Jones

28m - Well, Smith Street is no way near as thrillingly perilous as it used to be,...

Smith St Alimentary

32m - The crew from Brunswick Street’s café-cum-deli, Alimentary, are opening a...

Saint Crispin

33m - The explosive transformation of Smith Street from Dollar Shop Alley to...

More restaurants and bars nearby

Other venues nearby

Smith Street Bazaar

22m - Bright, colourful, and filled with leather armchairs that will make you weep...

Vintage Garage

52m - Hats! Handbags! Homewares! Vintage Garage is a Collingwood boutique that...

Travellers Bookstore

53m - “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page” –...

Happy Valley Shop

64m - Happy Valley is the new kid of Chris Crouch, who owns the Tramway Hotel in...

More venues nearby

Readers' comments, reviews, hints and pictures

Community guidelines

blog comments powered by Disqus