Nowadays everything from strawberries and cucumbers to almond flour, chickpeas and honey come smothered in plastic, which makes its way home with us. It is estimated that consumers on average use 50 – 150 kilograms of plastic per person per year. This is why we are extremely excited that the packaging-free shopping trend has been sweeping the globe and even made its way to sunny South Africa in the form of zero-waste stores like Nude Foods in Cape Town.
At Eatsplorer, we are all about making food from scratch, which of course means going on an ingredient hunt ever so often, and while we love (adore!) fresh food markets it’s not always possible to pick up all your pantry must-haves from these wonderful destinations. When we do end up in the aisles of our local supermarkets in search of the makings of tasty things, the most noticeable difference is the overwhelming amount of packaging.
So, let’s talk plastic. More than 300 million tonnes of plastics are produced annually around the world, and there are at least five trillion pieces floating in our oceans. Even animals living in the deepest ocean trenches have been found with plastic fragments in their gut.
Fortunately, the package-free shopping trend is providing local shoppers as well as travellers with a tangible way of making a difference. We caught up with Paul Rubin, founder of NUDE FOODS in Cape Town, who bared all about what inspired him to take the leap and tackle the challenges of establishing a package-free store.
“Our pilot store on Constitution street in Zonnebloem opened in December 2017, and our Newlands branch followed in August 2018,” says Paul. “As the wholefoods and plastic-free trend began growing internationally, I became frustrated waiting for someone else to open such a store in Cape Town, and eventually decided to do so myself. It’s the type of store I’ve always wanted to shop at, so initially, I started out by creating my own dream shopping experience.”
Paul says it felt important to create a different way of shopping in Cape Town and South Africa, to give those like him, fed-up with conventional supermarkets, a viable shopping alternative. That’s not to say that it was easy to get the ball rolling, however.
“This is hands-down the most challenging thing I have ever taken on,” says Paul. “It has consumed my entire life, but I am extremely passionate about what I am doing, so it’s easy to approach it wholeheartedly. It’s also a very exciting space to be playing in since it’s disrupting a massive, long-standing industry. So that’s fun to witness and to be a part of as well.”
Paul has a background in business management and marketing (BCom, MBA), and NUDE FOODS is the fifth business he has started. “My background in business has proven extremely valuable in creating this new venture, and equally so the hard lessons and tenacity I’ve gained from weathering the stresses of past start-ups.
NUDE FOODS is completely self-funded and owned by myself, and since I had no previous food or retail experience, I had to learn everything from scratch. That meant lots of school fees along the way, but it also meant that I was able to approach things with a fresh, untainted view.”
“Pioneering anything comes with heaps of challenges. Initially, many of the larger suppliers weren’t interested in engaging with us, because it meant having to re-engineer how they operate and package their goods. Many brushed us off, but now that we are more established, and other similar stores are opening around the country, they are fast coming around to this new way of doing things.”
The NUDE FOODS team sources all their products as close to the source as possible. This allows them to buy in bulk, and to eliminate unnecessary re-packaging along the supply chain. “We source all our products ethically and locally,” explains Paul. “All of our fresh produce is organic, pesticide-free and sourced from local farms. Products not farmed or produced in South Africa, we source from reputable suppliers abroad or from local importers. However, we will always support local over imports when there is an option available.”
Paul believes that every eco-conscious foodie should embrace the nude shopping trend. “Stores like NUDE FOODS are a must-visit destination for anyone looking for real, wholesome and delicious foods and chemical-free home- and body products. We are completely non-GMO and promote clean ingredients. It’s also a must-see for anyone curious about the future of shopping!”
As an added bonus, NUDE FOODS also rolled out The Vegan Caravan of Love in February 2019. This vegan food truck is parked in the alley in Constitution street from Monday to Friday between 10:00 and 15:30, and between 09:00 and 14:00 on Saturdays. It’s the ultimate spot to pick up everything from smoothies and vegan hot chocolate, to vegan roti’s, falafel wraps and falafel salads.
THE IMPORTANT BITS
Where & when? At 5 Constitution Street, Zonnebloem between 10:30 and 18:00 on Mondays, 09:00 and 18:00 Tuesday to Friday, and 09:00 – 14:00 on Saturdays. Or at Shop 22, Montebello Design Centre, 31 Newlands Avenue Tuesday to Saturday from 09:00 – 16:00. Check out the NUDE FOODS website, or get in touch on email@example.com or (021) 437 3003.
TOP TIP: More nude shopping in South Africa can be found at The Refillery in Johannesburg, Waste-Not Groceries in Port Elizabeth and The REFILL Den in Durban.
Writing: Anna-Bet Stemmet | Photography: Nude Foods | Liezel Norval-Kruger