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December 2018

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Organic Grocery Stores in the GTA

I’ve compiled a list of stores that sell organic produce and products within the GTA – it is by no means a complete list of all the stores or options available but it is a good place to start.  Organic foods are generally more expensive, however, as with anything else, you can find deals and the store that best fits your budget.

Nature’s Emporium 

Established in 1993, the Natures Emporium is a family run business that sells only organic and natural foods from local farmers to big brands. They have three locations in the GTA.

Locations

8401 Weston Rd.,   Woodbridge 16655 Yonge St., Newmarket 
 2535 Major Mackenzie Dr. W,         Maple/Vaughan  2180 Itabashi Way, Burlington

     

Blossom Pure 

Established in 2002, by Fahim Alwan, Blossom Pure is a small grocery store located in Etobicoke. Alwan is dedicated to sourcing from Ontario farmers who use organic and sustainable practices. In addition to being organic, all meats are Halal certified. They also carry some Kosher food products.

Location:100 The East Mall, #15, Etobicoke

The Big Carrot

A worker owned cooperative, established in 1983 sells organic, non-GMO, and fair trade.

Locations

Danforth Community Market
348 Danforth Avenue
Toronto, ON 
Beach Community Market
125 Southwood Drive
Toronto, ON 

Organic Garage

Organic Garage’s tagline is, “We sell for less”. The vision of the family is to sell healthy organic options for lower prices than the customary high sales tags.

Locations

 43 Junction Rd.
Toronto, ON  
8020 Bathurst St #1,
Thornhill, ON  
579 Kerr St.
Oakville, ON  
 

Fresh City Farms

They source from local farmers as well they have a farm in Downsview Park on two acres. In the warmer temperatures up to 70% of their goods are farmed in Canada.  They boast a wide variety of gluten free, vegan products. You have the option of shopping at the store or online for delivery.

Locations

111 Ossington Avenue
Toronto, ON  
476 Roncesvalles Avenue
Toronto, ON

 

Tianos Organics

375 Kingston Rd. (12.40 mi)
Pickering, Ontario

Whole Foods

This is probably the most commercially recognized and well-known organic store; they are also one of the more pricey options. There are six locations in the GTA.

Locations

Leaside : 1860 Bayview Ave.
Toronto, ON  
301 Cornwall Rd.
Oakville, ON    
155 Square One Dr.
Mississauga, ON    
Unionville
3997 Highway 7, Markham, ON    
Yorkville
87 Avenue Rd.
Toronto, ON    
Yonge & Sheppard
4771 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON    

Online Shopping/Home Delivery

Butcher Box

Choice Farms sources local farmers to provide various meats of your choice that are chemical free, naturally raised, AAA beef and pork. As well as poultry that is grain-fed and raised without steroids or hormones along with wild BC seafood.

You can order your box online, they have various subscription sizes ranging from a one person household to 5 or more. $138 –

Shipping is free. Click: www.butcherbox.ca

Mama Earth Organics 

Local organic fruits and vegetables are gathered each week and because they sell the freshest available produce, each week the options are different. The price of baskets range from $40 – $100

Order online and have your basket delivered to your door.                                  Click: Mama Earth Organics


Mainstream Grocery Chains

With the demand for organic produce growing, mainstream grocery stores are also carrying organic products. The selections are limited when compared to the grocery stores who fully stock organic products and produce but they are also good options. 

Loblaws Real Canadian Superstore
No Frills (limited selection)
Sobeys 
Freshco (limited selection)
Metro
Food Basics (limited selection)  
 

Organic Labels : Can We Trust Them?

Organic produce is better for us and on that I think most will agree.  What people differ on is whether they trust that a brand is authentically organic or just packaged with the same old pesticides but sold at the premium organic sale price. A healthy dose of skepticism is always good which is why you should always do your own research.

In Canada there are different certification bodies that assess, monitor and ensure the standards required for organic farming.  Products that are traded inter-provincially or internationally are  regulated by the Organic Federation of Canada. These certification bodies can give you some sense of security and comfort but if you are still skeptical you can always visit the farms if they are close enough to you.  A conversation with the store/retailer  will usually  glean their purpose, values and integrity. Some farms have videos that show how their processes work with produce and animals.

Identifying locally grown organic products

At the time this was published , with the exception of Quebec and British Columbia provinces do not have regulations that require producers or processors  of locally produced organic  to  have their operations certified. However, you can reach out to the province’s consumer protection bureau to confirm organic legitimacy. Also, keep in mind the certification process can be cost prohibitive for some small businesses.

The Organic Federation of Canada states the following:

It is very easy for Canadian consumers to identify organic products.

  • The “organic” label must always indicate the name of the authorized certifier that inspected the products and validated their designation.
  • In addition, product labels may bear the Canada Organic logo, which will be easily identified on product labels. However, the use of this logo is optional.
  • Only products that contain more than 95% organic ingredients may be labelled “organic” and may bear the logo.
  • If the percentage of organic ingredients is between 70% and 95%, the label will bear the words: “Made with x% organic ingredients.” It is compulsory to indicate the percentage of organic ingredients on the label if it is between 70% and 95%.
  • If the product contains less than 70% organic ingredients, the word “organic” may only appear on the ingredients list, only to describe the certified organic ingredients.
  • All accredited certifying bodies under the Canada Organic Regime are listed on the COO website.
  • As a last resort, any consumer may ask to see the organic compliance certificate issued by the certifier who inspected the product labelled “organic.” Organic compliance certificates are absolutely essential. Products that are not backed by these certificates may not claim to be organic.

Source: Organic Federation of Canada

Organic labels

Logo: The following logo can be used to identify organic produce, however, organic produce that follow the organic Canadian standards may not always have the logo on the packaging. Also, imported products that were produced with  Canadian standards may  have the Canadian organic logo.

09142_Logo_Apr21

Beware of labels that tout “natural “ ingredients, this does not mean it is organic.

Should we trust organic labels? Most of us do not have the time to go the extra mile to make sure our products, especially organic products are as they say on the packages or in our produce sections; we hope and take for granted that regulations are followed and that our grocers are ethical and conduct business with integrity.

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