Locavore Love at Whites IGA!

Image source: Photographer Megan Gill

To make a great meal you need to start with the freshest and best quality ingredients and, as Matt Golinski discovers, that generally comes from the closest source possible.

Food lovers on the Sunshine Coast understand the importance of buying local.

While we’re spoilt for choice with produce markets across the coast, it’s not always convenient to shop on the weekend when we have so much going on in our lives, but the clued up and dedicated ‘locavores’ who live here know there’s a 7-days-a-week option available wherever there’s a Whites IGA.

From humble beginnings as the owners of a small convenience store in Maroochydore 31 years ago, Michael and Roz White have built an empire of six IGA stores from Baringa to Peregian Beach, and each has been thoughtfully custom-designed with the community it services in mind.

The couple has never taken for granted the community support that has afforded them the success they have achieved over the past three decades, and are always looking at ways to give back – whether it’s helping local charities, sporting groups and schools or raising much needed funds for medical research or disability groups.

But probably their greatest achievement within the community, and their main point of difference to any other supermarket on the coast, is the 200 or so local farmers, producers and food manufacturers whose wares they proudly stock and promote in all their stores – helping these small family businesses grow by giving them exposure and actively encouraging their customers to choose local.

Whites’ distinctive locavore culture incorporates a trademarked ‘tractor’ emblem to highlight locally grown and made products, making it easy to find the good stuff, and their website has a comprehensive list of everyone represented on the shelves, so you can research what’s on offer before you even leave the house.

The supermarket industry has got itself a bad name of late when it comes to putting shareholder profits above the wellbeing of both farmers and consumers, but IGA owners – being independent, have the ability to make a difference by being directly connected to their small suppliers, and not having an obligation to return profits to shareholders.

Michael and Roz White live and breathe the locavore philosophy, and are more than happy to put the satisfaction of doing something good for the world above their bottom line.

With over 60 years’ combined experience in the retail game, they know a good product when they see one, and they’re always out looking for people in the food industry who are doing new and interesting things that they can add to the inventory.

They’re generous with their time and advice, and are always happy to share their vast knowledge with newcomers to make sure they have every chance of surviving that perilous start-up phase.

The Whites IGA group has won a slew of awards over the years for its commitment to service, sustainability and the community. Roz has been acknowledged as Sunshine Coast Businesswomen’s Network Outstanding Business Woman of the Year in 2015 and in 2017 was inducted into the IGA Hall of Fame.

With 500 staff employed across the six stores, the business is heavily focussed on fostering a happy and proud work force, and it’s clear as soon as you walk through the doors of any of their outlets that the success of this group is very much a team effort.

Whites IGA’s are located in Peregian Beach, Baringa, Bli Bli, Forest Glen, Mooloolah and Mt Coolum. All are open from 6am, 7 days a week, the first three until 9pm, with the last three closing at 8pm. You can also grab your copy of Hello Sunshine Magazine from our dedicated stands in most of these outlets. – that’s locals supporting locals.

So whether you eat like a carnivore, herbivore or omnivore, keep an eye out for that little tractor sticker when you’re at a Whites IGA,  to guarantee that you’re shopping like a locavore.

About the Author /

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Matt Golinski is a highly regarded chef with a passion for simple, produce-driven cuisine based on seasonal, fresh local ingredients. He is an active member of the Slow Food movement, a champion of artisan producers and a generous mentor to keen young chefs. He is the Food and Culinary Tourism Ambassador for the Gympie region; Ambassador and Advisory Executive Chef for Peppers Noosa; and a festival favourite.

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