By Elisa Cirene
Rhys Ford’s business brand says it all. And just as Aretha Franklin spelled it out for us, the name of the game is R E S P E C T… for food, for the planet and for our local producers and farmers.
It was the COVID pandemic that provided the impetus to launch a sustainable mobile pantry business. Previously finding lack of time had always been an issue, when 2020 lockdown hit, Rhys realised it was a ‘now or never’ moment to launch his dream. Combining his passion for good food with an interest in sustainability Rhys launched as Rhys.Pect.Food.
Born and raised in Red Cliffs, on the NSW/ Victoria border, has put him in touch with people working on the land and growing food. Notching up years working in hospitality his awareness of problems associated with waste management and the impacts on our environment led him to look for solutions. When family members decided they wanted to live more ethically this sparked an interest to delve more into this topic and look at the changes we can make in our everyday lives. The copious amounts of wasteful food packaging was an area that Rhys believed could be addressed easily and quickly.
Launching with a humble product list of 15, Rhys now stocks over 70 items and is growing. Each product is carefully selected taking food miles, taste and packaging into consideration. As much as possible, products are obtained from local or Australian farmers and includes various flours, sugars, spices, dried fruit, nuts, seeds and the only Australian grown pumpkin seeds. Customer favourites include Australian dried apricots and turmeric coated walnuts.
Competing with the buying power of big business that drives the cost of food down is a major challenge, as the ‘real’ cost of food isn’t fully understood and appreciated. But this, along with reducing carbon footprint, is a topic that Rhys is happy to chat with customers about. He tells us, “It’s also very rewarding to see people try and change their carbon footprint through their food choices and by bringing their own containers to market.”
Future plans include a vehicle upgrade to grow the product range, a DIY oat grinding station and plans to make peanut butter. Hopefully a bricks-and-mortar store that doubles as a café will be on the horizon too. Watch this space!
Pop by and visit Rhys.Pect.Food at the Slow Food Melbourne Farmers’ Markets on the 2nd Saturday of month at WeFo and 4th Saturday of the month at Spotswood.