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The Choku Bai Jo Movement – Fresh, organic and locally produced

By 22 March 2012 25

One of the unpronounceable buzz words struggling past peoples lips over the last 4 years has been Choku Bai Jo. Choku Bai Jo means ‘Direct Selling Place’ in Japanese, and that is exactly what the Pentony Family sought to – and have achieved – since the first store opened in North Lyneham in February 2008. Their history does not begin there however as the family was integral to the conception of both Canberra Farmers Markets. As the family also own Gleann na Meala an ACO Certified Organic farm near the Village of Hall, they were always on the lookout for better ways of marketing and delivering their fresh produce directly to the community. Three years after opening the Lyneham Store, the Southside communities pleas were answered and the second outlet was opened in Curtin.

Choku Bai Jo works because it is something different from the other retailers. The charming yet rustic décor assists in highlighting the quality of the local produce which is delivered to each outlet through the week from the region’s best growers. Fresh organic produce is picked every day for the shop from Gleann na Meala providing the consumer the opportunity to buy and eat produce the day it was picked. Choku Bai Jo gets apples throughout the year from the Davidsons at Hillside orchard in Borenore NSW, Citrus from the Auddinos in Leeton, Stone fruit ffrom Laurie Xerri at Young, Heavy veg from The Vassellos at Mowbray Park and much more from other local growers and producers.

In addition to some of the regions larger producers it is common during fig season to see locally grown fruit from the backyards of customers on the shelves. This adds to the community feel of the stores and allows the shoppers to feel part of the growing Choku Bai Jo movement.

Another talking point is the hours the stores are open, 2pm to 7pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 1pm on Saturdays. The 2pm start during the week allows the fresh produce to be picked in the morning. It also allows parents to stop in on their way to, or returning from the daily school run. Added with the late closing of 7pm, Choku Bai Jo allows others to stop in after a long day at work; helping to minimise car trips and stressful shopping experiences.

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www.chokubaijo.com.au

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25 Responses to The Choku Bai Jo Movement – Fresh, organic and locally produced
#1
Mysteryman1:36 pm, 22 Mar 12

Sounds like an interesting idea. I’d like to check it out sometime.

Not sure what the green squiggle on the logo is…?

#2
Lazy I2:05 pm, 22 Mar 12

The charming yet rustic décor assists in highlighting the quality of the local produce…

notsureifserious.jpg

#3
Russ4:11 pm, 22 Mar 12

“Choku Bai Jo gets apples throughout the year from the Davidsons at Hillside orchard in Borenore NSW”

Since the apple season is from February to June, in order to get “apples throughout the year” they must be getting fruit that’s been through controlled atmosphere storage, which one doesn’t really associate with “farm fresh” or “organic”. Nothing wrong with that, it’s what all the supermarkets do, which is why nobody knows when the apple season is.

If people want proper, tree-ripened apples, pretty much the only place you can get them is Pialligo, and that’s only during season (ie. now). Other apple regions like Batlow have farm-gate stalls, but that’s a bit of a drive.

#4
pajs4:18 pm, 22 Mar 12

Or you could get local apples from Hall: http://www.loriendale.com.au/apple_day.htm

#5
Merle4:18 pm, 22 Mar 12

What they’re not mentioning is the absurd prices. I’m willing to pay a little more to support local farmers, but not five times the supermarket price. A very small bag of snow peas (as in literally five or six) cost me $3.

#6
jsm20904:29 pm, 22 Mar 12

Sure, some things cost more than the supermarkets, but the quality is much better, and it’s a lot cheaper than say Wiffens or Ziggys. I went crazy when Choku had 500g of blackberries for $8.

#7
Deref4:29 pm, 22 Mar 12

It’s fantastic! The freshness and quality of the in-season stuff at their Lyneham store makes you realise what crap the stuff you get from the supermarkets is. And it’s certainly not generally more expensive than the supermarket stuff – and often significantly cheaper.

I love apples that haven’t been coated with wax – I won’t buy those. And I love the fact that, when I buy from Choku Bai Jo or the Farmers Market, the farmer gets most of the money.

#8
EvanJames5:44 pm, 22 Mar 12

Mysteryman said :

Not sure what the green squiggle on the logo is…?

It’s an Organic Pear.

#9
madamcholet6:10 pm, 22 Mar 12

I visited some of the sites listed as organic producers – not many had websites listed – and only one actually said that they are in the process of seeking certification. They say on the Choku Bai Jo website that everything in the shop with a green label is certified organic. Unless the producers are not particularly selling that aspect of their product, then I didn’t see a huge amount of evidence that they are certified organic.

I used to go to the fruit and veg shop in Griffith until the owner demonstrated to me that she had no concept of what food safety was apart form saying that “nasty chemicals” were not used on their products. With these types of direct to the consumer outlets I don’t see much evidence of quality control – not all pesticides are synthetic and therefore some can be used in organic set-ups. Do the owners of these outlets and farmers markets ask when the product was last treated with any chemical or organic matter? What are their quality assurance processes around cleaning the produce after harvest etc etc.

I have nothing against the organic movement or places such as this outlet, and I admit to purchasing my meat from the organic butchers at Griffith and Fyshwick, however I don’t do it because I beleve that chemicals are nasty.

#10
Ben_Dover6:15 pm, 22 Mar 12

EvanJames said :

It’s an Organic Pear.

That would be brown and yellow.

#11
toriness8:12 pm, 22 Mar 12

i get all my fruit and vege from choku – the quality (taste and longevity) compared to IGA and woollies/coles is a thousand times better. i also love other amazing locally sourced quality products like caramelised balsamic vinegar and olive oil. it may or may not be more expensive (i haven’t done direct price comparisons) than the supermarket – but even if it is, given the significant difference in quality, i think it’s absolutely worth going there. i cannot recommend it more highly!!!

#12
Chip10:01 pm, 22 Mar 12

I haven’t been there for a while as it’s been a bumper season in our garden – but they impress me with
good honest produce at prices which gave small farmers a decent return. Huge farms with highly mechanised operations and goodness knows what sprays, etc. can put cheaper stuff to market than the small local guys who do lots by hand and with a deal more care.
As a local gardener with occasional excess, I have sometimes taken fresh picked stuff to Choku Bai Jo and they have given me a really fair price and sold it with a very modest mark-up. If I can keep the cockatoos away I’ll see if they want some sweet corn next week. If so it will be on a dinner table the same day that I pick it. The majors will never do that!
The best option for the planet is to grow your own if you have some space and inclination but farmers markets and places like Choku Bai Jo run a close second. Daylight to third. Good luck to them.

#13
cbjcurtin10:15 pm, 22 Mar 12

Hi, all I am one of the owners just to put that out there first.

Not everything we sell is Certified Organic, but every product displayed in our stores with a green sign or price tag is Certified Organic, please ask one of the staff if you need a certification number for any of these products.

We do sell fruit from Pialligo

We do sell apples and other produce from Lorindale at Hall

The owners also own Gleann na Meala, a Certified organic farm at Hall, produce is picked every morning and sold the same day.

On prices here are a few from instore today.

Certified Organic Lettuce, cos and butterhead $1.50/each

Certified Organic Pac Choi $1.80 per bunch

Unwaxed fresh apples and pears all $3.80/kg (these are not waxed seconds like you might find at other outlets)

Unwaxed Navel Oranges $1.80/kg

Premium Australian Cavandish Bananas, $2.80/kg

We stock local where possible, Organic were possible, and only ever Australian Grown.

The Logo is a pac choi

cheers for the feed back, hope you al have a great weekend

#14
potatosalad12:30 am, 23 Mar 12

I definitely support what they are doing, and it’s conveniently close to me, but the few times I have been in there I have found much of the produce to be fairly average. I do believe that produce doesn’t need to be pretty to be of great quality, but the few things I did buy were neither pretty nor great quality. But they also seem to be sold out or nearly sold out of a lot of things too, so perhaps I am just going at all the wrong times. Some time I will try and get in there when things are fresh and crisp still.

#15
MrPC1:00 am, 23 Mar 12

Three years ago I lived in Lyneham and made a point of buying F&V at CBJ. It always seemed to taste that bit more like real food. I’d go a tad overboard sometimes and while it wasn’t the cheapest, it was cheaper than fast food, and infinitely healthier.

Unfortunately I now live in Queanbeyan, which has precisely zero F&V stores or stands worth visiting. The one across from Aldi is pungent to the point of rotten when I visit on my weekend shopping, the one in City Link got shut down to make way for a K-Mart (and wasn’t that great) and the supermarket produce is bland and tasteless as you’d expect.

Memo: CBJ: Queanbeyan is ripe for the picking.

#16
cbjcurtin2:07 pm, 23 Mar 12

Just reread my comment and saw a mistake,
All conventionally grown apples are unwaxed and $3.80 per kilo, but organic apples $6.00 per kilo.

At potatosalad: unfortunately due to the current weather conditions the supply from our farm has been limited, and frequently sells out before we close. We are planting more and hope to be back on track soon.

Thanks again to everybody for you continued support.

#17
EvanJames2:36 pm, 23 Mar 12

MrPC said :

Unfortunately I now live in Queanbeyan, which has precisely zero F&V stores or stands worth visiting. The one across from Aldi is pungent to the point of rotten when I visit on my weekend shopping, the one in City Link got shut down to make way for a K-Mart (and wasn’t that great) and the supermarket produce is bland and tasteless as you’d expect.

Memo: CBJ: Queanbeyan is ripe for the picking.

Yep, it is. They used to have a brilliant farmers’ market at the showgrounds in the morning on weekends, then all the stallholders headed across town to the ACT one in the afternoon. But for some reason it got shut down, then they tried to get it going in bird pooh park next to the river outside Riverside, but it didn’t work there, and it faded away.

The Mother Natures in CityLink was great until the company did its going broke cycle and they never recovered, and now they’re moved out. And that place across from Aldi is foul, I have no clue how they stay in business. Expensive, and really awful produce.

Food Lovers at Bungendore is good for local stuff, but it’s a bit of a hike! Qbn really needs a direct produce outlet.

#18
astrojax2:37 pm, 23 Mar 12

toriness said :

i get all my fruit and vege from choku – the quality (taste and longevity) compared to IGA and woollies/coles is a thousand times better. i also love other amazing locally sourced quality products like caramelised balsamic vinegar and olive oil. it may or may not be more expensive (i haven’t done direct price comparisons) than the supermarket – but even if it is, given the significant difference in quality, i think it’s absolutely worth going there. i cannot recommend it more highly!!!

+1 cb is a saturday morning ritual and we get one of their excellent large hessian bags filled with most of what we 3 astro-householders need for the week for about $50-60. can’t recommend the potatioes highly enough! and from what i can determine, their prices compare well with the dickson woolies, which otherwise can’t compare with cb…

and what i love almost the most is the opening hours – very sage.

that said, i second the call for a qybn cb – looking to move there in future, would love to save on the fuel bils back to lyneham for our cb fix!

#19
cbjcurtin1:44 pm, 02 Apr 12

Ripe bananas $1/kg today both outlets while stocks last. Also cbj will be closed from Good Friday until Tuesday, so come in and stock up before the long weekend

#20
Caractacus Potts2:23 pm, 02 Apr 12

Presumably they’d be those locally produced bananas.

#21
EvanJames2:33 pm, 02 Apr 12

Caractacus Potts said :

Presumably they’d be those locally produced bananas.

Heh. Pretty-much what I was thinking!

#22
GardeningGirl3:45 pm, 02 Apr 12

Lazy I said :

The charming yet rustic décor assists in highlighting the quality of the local produce…

notsureifserious.jpg

madamcholet said :

I visited some of the sites listed as organic producers – not many had websites listed – and only one actually said that they are in the process of seeking certification. They say on the Choku Bai Jo website that everything in the shop with a green label is certified organic. Unless the producers are not particularly selling that aspect of their product, then I didn’t see a huge amount of evidence that they are certified organic.

I used to go to the fruit and veg shop in Griffith until the owner demonstrated to me that she had no concept of what food safety was apart form saying that “nasty chemicals” were not used on their products. With these types of direct to the consumer outlets I don’t see much evidence of quality control – not all pesticides are synthetic and therefore some can be used in organic set-ups. Do the owners of these outlets and farmers markets ask when the product was last treated with any chemical or organic matter? What are their quality assurance processes around cleaning the produce after harvest etc etc.

I have nothing against the organic movement or places such as this outlet, and I admit to purchasing my meat from the organic butchers at Griffith and Fyshwick, however I don’t do it because I beleve that chemicals are nasty.

potatosalad said :

I definitely support what they are doing, and it’s conveniently close to me, but the few times I have been in there I have found much of the produce to be fairly average. I do believe that produce doesn’t need to be pretty to be of great quality, but the few things I did buy were neither pretty nor great quality. But they also seem to be sold out or nearly sold out of a lot of things too, so perhaps I am just going at all the wrong times. Some time I will try and get in there when things are fresh and crisp still.

I’d pay a reasonable amount more and travel further for local produce, and if it’s organic as well that’s even better (which I accept might not look like the waxed supermarket version). So like potatosalad I too support the idea of what places like that are doing. But speaking generally (I emphasise I’m not talking about specifically this store) in practice my impression has been of walking into cliquey grotty little places with not much to offer and sometimes not very good product knowledge or hygiene standards.
I went to this North Lyneham store once and I too found it nearly sold out so perhaps I was there at the wrong time, but the distance (for me) and the “charming yet rustic décor” didn’t make me want to plan a special trip to try again. Calling it a “movement” doesn’t help either. But perhaps if I’m in the area of Lyneham or Curtin I’ll take another look.

#23
pepmeup3:49 pm, 03 Apr 12

Merle said :

What they’re not mentioning is the absurd prices. I’m willing to pay a little more to support local farmers, but not five times the supermarket price. A very small bag of snow peas (as in literally five or six) cost me $3.

Merle we get our snow peas form Choku Bai jo all the time, either you need to learn how to count or you should look up the word literally.

We shop at the curtin shop and find it great

#24
poetix4:32 pm, 03 Apr 12

I like shopping here. It smells nice, and I can ride my bike for that added ‘god I’m being good’ feeling. Smugness and carrots in the one trip. Priceless.

#25
cbjcurtin2:18 pm, 04 Apr 12

Iceberg lettuce picked today in Picton NSW $2/each or 2 for $3.50.

CBJ will be closed all Easter Weekend, drive safely everyone

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