Organic in the GTA


Buying organic can be expensive. My strategy is to buy the fruits that use the most pesticides – strawberries, berries organically grown and the others with thick skin or less pesticide non organic. That way I’m lowering my exposure as best as I can within my budget. It has been scientifically proven that baking soda is the most effective way to wash off the residue pesticide.

The basic wash and scrub under tap water will remove some dirt but will not be enough to clean off pesticide residue. A recent study in the Journal Of Agriculture and Food Chemistry compared the effectiveness of three ways of washing to remove pesticide residue – using Clorox bleach, baking soda and tap water. As it turned out, baking soda was the most successful. However, it still has its limitations; it will not remove residue that has been absorbed into the skin or deeper. For example, apples, if pesticide is absorbed into the skin, the baking soda will not go deep enough to clean it. The alternative and budget friendly choice is to peel the skin of the apple – however, you will be losing other important nutrients found in the skin.  The best choice would be to buy organic.

According to consumerreports.org, one should always wash fruits and vegetables as soon as you get it home, don’t wait until you are ready to eat it. The longer pesticides stay on fruits the more they are absorbed and harder to remove. The most effective way to get rid of pesticides is to place in a bowl or sink of water (at least two cups), with one teaspoon of baking soda for two minutes or more, the optimum length of time being 12-15 minutes. The agricultural industry uses various pesticides and the testing used to create these washing instructions may not effectively remove all the kinds used. But there is a consensus that this is one of the best options to cleaning your fruits and veggies.

Leafy vegetables (kale, lettuce, brussel sprouts): remove the outside layers, this will help to remove most of the pesticide residue.

Beware of packaging that states contents are natural or green; there is no standard on which to base these claims. In order to use the term  organic on labels, the produce has to also have the certification of the particular certification body.


Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce, EWG

Health Canada

USDA Pesticide Data Programs

Canadian Organic Growers

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.


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.


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.


 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.


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.


Leaside : 1860 Bayview Ave.
Toronto, ON  
301 Cornwall Rd.
Oakville, ON    
155 Square One Dr.
Mississauga, ON    
3997 Highway 7, Markham, ON    
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)
Freshco (limited selection)
Food Basics (limited selection)