DESPITE the growing popularity of vegan and vegetarian diets, the main issue for food shoppers is finding 100% organic food.

That’s the view of Hannah Milam from Brighton co-operative Infinity Foods. It’s the reason its café in Gardner Street now sells all organic food as part of its first revamp for 12 years.

“Lots of our regular customers say organic is the main issue for them when it comes to buying produce and food,” says Hannah.

“There are very few places which are genuinely organic and they can put trust in.

“When we reopened there was an awful lot of people who had not eaten out for breakfast or lunch for the entire six weeks because they couldn’t find places that catered to the organic side.”

To be truly organic you need traceability, she explains. Infinity Foods Kitchen has the advantage that its supplier is Infinity Foods, another arm of the Brighton-based co-operative, which has been supplying organic and natural foods to an expanding network of buyers across Europe for more than 40 years. The kitchen’s coffee comes from another Brighton institution, Redroaster, which sources organic beans.

“We won’t buy an ingredient unless it’s organic. It makes a massive difference to the quality of the food. That is what people come back for. It’s not just about having nice food in a nice area – it’s what organic does for your body.”

Which is what, exactly?

“When I started working here I didn’t think there was much of a difference, but it makes you feel more energised and a lot cleaner within yourself. Even if you are eating the food you did before but it’s organic, it makes you feel healthier.”

Organic food is often more expensive. By having an in-house supplier and doing little things which give big results – taking food-waste back to farm suppliers as compost in a “closed cycle” – they manage to offer fair prices. Infinity Foods has long been popular because of its co-op aspect – run for the workers by the workers – but another niche the 16-year-old café aims to corner is organic takeaways.

The kitchen used to struggle to get dishes out in less than 15 minutes but as part of the redesign they now have a hot counter which serves daily specials as well as regulars, such as millet and lentils with a dhal curry (£5.50). Cold snacks in the new “grab and go fridge” include sandwiches, fresh salads and bento boxes. And its chefs now make the random selection of gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan cakes daily on site, ready to be taken away.

“People can come in and grab a sandwich, pay and be out in a few minutes. It is still made in the kitchen, but now it is done fresh every morning.”

The café has had a top-to-bottom redesign. The 12 upstairs tables are surrounded by new art on the walls in a lighter, airier space with views down Gardner Street. The facade has been re-painted and has a dragonfly sculpture made from bits of the old Brighton Astoria, and new bench-seating has been made by Wood Works Brighton.

Inside, a new sign lays out the café’s principles: “organic, vegan, vegetarian, cooperative”.

It’s what consumers are really looking for, believes Hannah.

“People are becoming more aware of what they are putting into their bodies.”

Menu sample

Breakfast, served 10.30pm to noon on weekdays and 10.30pm until 2pm on weekends:
- Infinity Full Breakfast £8.50 VO GFO
Sausage, bacon, garlic mushrooms & spinach with roasted vine tomatoes, herby polenta slice, baked beans and toasted granary bread. Choice of poached egg or scrambled tofu.
- Portobello & Polenta Scramble £5.50 VO GF
Roasted Portobello mushroom topped with scrambled eggs or tofu and red pepper scramble served on a bed of pan fried spinach with herby polenta slice and sweet chilli sauce.

Lunch, available all day every day
-Thali plate £8 V GF             
Selection of curry, dahl, rice and Indian sundries.
-Mezze Platter: £8 VO GFO
Selection of fresh salads, falafels, dips and other goodies served with pitta bread.
-Millet Slice: £3.50 to £5.50 VO GFO
With a selection of toppings.

Essential information

Open Monday to Friday, 10.30am to 5pm,
Saturday, 10am to 5pm,
Sunday, 11am to 4pm