Organic Living in Toronto
By Elli Davis, February 2, 2012
Organic Food Garden by Peter Blanchard
If you follow trends, I am sure you will have noticed all the attention that has been paid to green and organic living in the past couple of years. Toronto, as a modern city, is keeping up with what is fashionable, as well as what is good for its citizens' health, and therefore places offering organic goods are abundant in the city. Check out the best places to go if you want your life to be as "green" as possible!
It is good to start with a definition to make sure everyone understands what the word that is going to be used many, many times in this article means. In this article, “organic” refers to the way products have been grown and processed. No use of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, hormones, antibiotics, or preservatives is allowed. Natural fertilizers and composts are used instead.
Organic farming in Canada was “limited to small groups of producers, processors and consumers” for a very long time, but it has gotten immensely popular in recent years. During the last decade, sales of organic products have been rising by about 20 per cent a year. Such products are very easy to recognize — they all have the Canada Organic label; a maple leaf rising above two hilltops. In Toronto, most things organic are easy to find, and this article will help guide you where to find them.
If you are too busy shop in grocery stores, this is not a problem at all. There are many organic grocery delivery services in Toronto that will make your life a lot easier. Furthermore, by staying home, you save your time and plastic bags, which are usually used in grocery stores, as well as your own carbon footprint. All you need is a couple of minutes of your time, Internet access, a list of goods you want to buy, and a credit card or cash.
The aim of Green Earth Organics is to provide its customers with “the freshest and very best organic products available.” GEO offers weekly or bi-weekly delivery of organic goods. You can choose from the three weekly changing bins full of seasonal selections of organic fruit and vegetables that GEO has in store, the $37 Regular Harvest Box, $47 Family Harvest Box or the $60 Super Harvest Box. All of these can be modified slightly, but you can also create your own bin to control completely what products you are going to get. Pick anything you like from the great selection of 100 per cent Certified Organic fruit, vegetables, dairy, and other grocery products. You can change your order until 9:00 am the day before the delivery.
Deliveries are made on the same day each week; the exact day depends on your location. The delivery time is always between 2:00 pm and 9:00 pm. Payments are made via pre-authorized debit or credit card, but it is possible to agree on other methods of payment as well. If you are not satisfied with some of the delivered products, do not hesitate: if you bring it to their attention, you can get a replacement. You can also have a good feeling about using the services of GEO: the products are 100% organic, they are delivered in reusable bins instead of plastic bags, and importantly, shopping there helps to support local farmers and local businesses.
415 Horner Avenue
Since 1997, Front Door Organic (FDO) has been helping Torontonians to live better and healthier lives. It offers an unbelievable selection of goods — more than 500 certified organic and ecologically responsible grocery items. The choice is fantastic; and the quality is superb. Supporting local business is crucial, and Front Door Organics is very much aware of that, as it gives priority to Ontario grown organics, Ontario producers, and Ontario-based businesses.
Check out their webpage and choose your delivery schedule. Do you want your groceries to be delivered weekly, biweekly, or every three or four weeks? Do you want to skip some weeks? It is up to you. Again, the day of delivery depends on where you live. The time is between noon and 10:00 pm, and you do not have to be home to receive your delivery. You can also pick up the goods yourself if you live outside the FDO delivery area.
With regard to payment, it is necessary to pay by credit card or a cheque (mailed in advance) for the first delivery, but after that, it is possible to agree on paying by cheque or cash. Simply said, they FDO is trying to do everything to make their clients satisfied, and the hard work has been paying off, it seems. In 2010, it won the Organic Council of Ontario’s 2010 award for Outstanding Direct To Consumer Operation. Try their services and see whether the award is deserved.
Mama Earth Organic entered the market only recently, in 2007. Its main goal is “to provide a service where local farms are given priority and members are able to access the freshest organic items available at a fair price,” and it is doing a pretty good job, as the number of its customers keeps growing.
MEO offers a variety of goods, from organic fruits and vegetables to organic cheese, eggs, freshly baked organic breads, organic milk, and so on. You can choose from a few available baskets changing every week ($27.50-$55) or have it your way and create a special basket that suits your needs. Decide how often you want to receive your delivery. Do not worry: it is not compulsory to order a basket every week — everything is up to you. As for the financial matters, there is a $10 membership fee, but other than that, no pre-payments are necessary.
Places to Eat and Drink
264 Dupont St.
Live, one of the best known Toronto organic raw food restaurants was founded exactly ten years ago, in 2002. It began as Chris Italiano’s organic café and juice bar. With the help of his sister, Jennifer Italiano, the place has been transformed into what it is today. If you think that raw vegan food will not taste delicious, forget it: Live will most certainly prove you wrong. It combines healthy, fresh, high-quality ingredients with unbelievable taste. Its policy is simple; Live believes that “food should only be processed by the human body.”
Like all the aforementioned grocery delivery stores, the restaurant supports local farmers. Furthermore, to prove devotedness to organic lifestyle, Live promised they would cut back on their carbon footprint. Reusing and recycling is also very important in this restaurant. Do not hesitate to try one of the popular Organic Superfood Smoothes or healthy bowls. Get ready for a gourmet experience and to “cleanse your body, mind, and soul.” Live is waiting for you.
2945 Dundas Street West
Organic, local and green! These are the words describing The Beet Organic Café perfectly. When Certified Nutritionist Michelle Vella and Homeopathic Doctor Heather Osler started professionally advising people about dietary issues and nutritional protocol, they had no idea that their practice at the clinic would end up helping the whole City of Toronto to live a better and healthier life. That began in 2008, when the Café was opened.
Everything in this place is eco-friendly, from the fresh, organic menu to the 100 per cent biodegradable packaging and the sustainable interior design. Just like the other shops and restaurants we have mentioned, this lovely place aims to “support local farmers by providing fresh local produce whenever possible.” Whether you are in the mood for a smoothie or a milkshake, for a tasty breakfast or a burger, this cafe has it all, and more — absolutely everything organic. Kids love it too! Take them out for a nice afternoon, since this restaurant offers a special children's menu as well. Have fun!
798 Danforth Ave. and 4 other locations
Even the most health-conscious people might want to spend an evening watching TV and eating pizza. Thanks to the popular family-run local restaurant chain called Magic Oven, one does not have to feel guilty about doing so from time to time. This place offers a wide variety of organic pizzas, pastas and sandwiches. There are a number of Magic Oven restaurants across our city. You can either choose to eat in or take your food home with you. Unsurprisingly, the packaging is enviro-friendly: pizza boxes are made of recycled cardboard and the plastic bags are degradable. Give yourself a little treat and try Toronto’s award-winning pizza.
50 Kensington Ave
Out of all the organic shops in Toronto, I have heard the most praise for this one. Essence is a very cute and friendly shop, the greatest positive of which is that it is very visible how passionate about organic products its owners are and how deeply involved they try to be.
The store offers a wide range of products — from groceries to beauty and household products. The selection includes purely vegan and gluten-free products, fresh veggies, prepared meals, baked goods, perfumes, soaps, vitamins, creams and a lot more. It makes no sense to make a list; there are just too many products to mention.
All this combined with reasonable prices, a convenient location, and helpful and friendly staff ready to help any time make this shop so special and popular. Pay a visit to Essence yourself. If you are into the organic lifestyle, you are going to fall in love — if you have not already.
701 Mt Pleasant Rd
Ladies and gentlemen, what would you say to forgetting all your problems and spending the day in a spa? Sounds like a good idea to me. You can even bring your green lifestyle into the relaxation of the spa! Urb Organic Spa offers absolutely everything you could possibly wish for in a spa. The only difference is that the products used are completely organic. Make sure to check the webpage regularly to be updated about the current monthly promotions. It will be worth it! Take a little time off and enjoy yourself; your skin and body are going to appreciate it!
1022 Queen St. East
Belmonte Raw offers a wide range of products in one place. Fresh, organic drinks and food (including unbelievably delicious, sugar-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free desserts) make it seem a little like a buffet restaurant, but it has a lot more in store. Give a chance to one of the three Cleansing Packages “designed to help your body to cleanse and detox through whole, organic living foods.” Would you rather learn how to cook healthy and easy raw meals? Attend one of the classes in the boutique. Come see, taste and learn!
If living a healthy lifestyle is not enough for you and you would like to do a little more not only for yourself but also for the people around you, apply for one of the organic agriculture and food-related study programmes or participate in an organization dealing with organic issues. What better way to learn more about green living than by being a part of it!
Ever since its establishment in 1994, the Centre for Studies in Food Security has been “working to promote food security through research, dissemination, education, community action, and professional practice.” For all those eager to know as much as possible about food security, it is possible to get a certificate in the field. The subjects include Introduction to Food Security, Urban Food Security, and Urban Agriculture Types. Interested? Check out the webpage and apply.
With the increasing popularity of organic products, the Guelph Organic Program has been attracting an increasing number of people. As its title suggests, organic sustainability is what the program is mainly devoted to, however, eating sustainably seems to be becoming prominent as well. If you enjoy reading and talking about these topics, it is a good idea to apply. This university is the perfect location for this program as “Guelph is unique among Canadian universities in offering both academic and applied learning opportunities in organics on campus for a broad range of career directions.”
As unbelievable as it may sound, COG, a registered charity, has been dealing with organic growing for more than three decades. Its aim is to create an “awareness of and appreciation for sustainable organic food.” The charity needs all your support; you can donate or become a member and participate in helping Canada achieve a more healthy and sustainable food system. You might not want to miss an interesting event taking place in Toronto on February 18th, the annual conference in Toronto entitled “Your Food, Your Choice: The Value of Organic”. See COG’s webpage for more details.