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Feb 6, 2008 12:06 PM

Who has the best Produce in Kensington Market?

Who has the best produce in the Kensington Market?

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  1. I do not frequent anyone in particular that's the beauty of the market...I let my eyes cruise the stores...whatever looks the freshest and most appealing on the day gets my business.

    1. good question! we get a bit from the organic place on augusta and other stuff from 2 other places...and of course chinese produce on spad. i'd like to know too tho who has the best.

      9 Replies
      1. re: zed1984

        it all comes from the food terminal.

        1. re: insideman

          Not Live 4 Life. They sell local organics straight from the farm. Of course, it's three times as expensive as most in the Market.

          1. re: insideman

            What does the fact that it comes from the food terminal have to do with it? Clearly, there is a range of quality that comes through there, and it's likely that that range would be reflected in the various produce places in the market.


            1. re: detritus

              it has everything to do with it and the range of quality is no different than chinatown, rabba or loblaws. it's all the same and not much of it local so pretending like you are some discriminating shopper because you buy mangoes, eggplant or whathaveyou in kensington is laughable.

              1. re: insideman

                I agree with 'insideman'......Kensington Market to me is a throwback to a time in the 'past' of the Jewish is not that now, but it is 'other communitys' for other persons who came to Canada to make a life the same as the Jewish people did at that time. For me, it represents the immigrant experience! In our 'pasteurized' way of living it is very important for me not to forget all that the Market represented and STILL represents to many , many people.
                I go to the Market to be reminded of 'my roots' not to search for cheaper, better,local etc. I may only go a few times in the Summer but I LOVE the experience and feel very strongly about preserving the area & the customs and now that I have a grand-daughter I want her to know that this is what it means to have 'roots''s not for the produce or range of quality as 'insideman' has pointed out so well.

                1. re: insideman

                  What if you're buy Ontario produce?! And what if you are shopping there because you want to support the artisinal produce person vs big shop?! I think there is a difference between shopping at KM than at Loblaws. For me personally is the rapport between me and the sales person. And no way in hell are you going to tell me Loblaws/Dominion/Chinatown carry the same quality as KM. Not in a trillion years.

                  1. re: insideman

                    Yeah, I never said that the range of quality in the market was any better or worse than that in chinatown, Loblaws, etc.

                    What I said was that there is a range of quality in the produce that comes from the food terminal, and that some of the shops in the market are likely to be better/worse than others. Presumably this is what the original question was trying to get at.

                    1. re: insideman

                      insideman is right. Most of the produce vendors in KM aren't very good, and with some exceptions, most shops are just carrying the very same stuff that every neighbourhood produce market and supermarket chain is sourcing from the food terminal. While there is something to be said for supporting a small business and the neighbourhood within which it exists, I'd rather do so when I'm getting a. higher quality product, and/or b. something sourced from a local, organic, and/or sustainable source. Most of what's for sale in KM's produce stores (with the exceptions noted in this thread) doesn't meet any of these criteria.

                      I do think that even though a lot of the produce we find in stores throughout Toronto is straight from the terminal, who's doing the sourcing can make a difference. For instance, the gang at Harvest Wagon often get the pick of the lots when they buy product from the vendors at the FT. Even though many things (excluding their speciality and local produce items that are hard and/or impossible to find elsewhere in the city) they carry are just the exact same products that other places have (but sold at higher prices!), I can say from experience that they usually get the riper and/or fresher lots. For example, like the U.S. strawberries I bought there this weekend, where the entire container was nothing but ripe, sweet berries (I know, strawberries in February just sounds wrong, but sometimes you need a break from cold-stored apples). They could easily have been sourced from the same FT vendor as those I saw for sale yesterday at the SLM, but they smelled and looked riper (and everytime I test this theory by buying things like imported winter strawberries from vendors at SLM and our local fruit and veg store, the HW ones always come out on top). Also, when I buy things like lettuces from HW they usually last for several days longer in the fridge than those I buy from our neighbourhood produce stores on the Danforth, or from the supermarkets.

              2. II frequent the market often so I have a good idea of who has what.

                The place at St Andrew and Kensington Ave on the North Side (Portuguese family), has teh best lettuce. Actually they are the only place that has frisse lettuce (and other various based on season). Also their herb selection is quite good and fairly prices. So for herbs and lettuce they are a def winner, every time.

                The place at St Andrews and Kensington on the South side is an Asian lady, has better fruits, especially Ontario. The fruit is higher quality and sometimes a bit more expensive than across the street. This is where I do a good chunk of my shopping. She also carries good bok choy and bok suay and other Asian specialties if you want to avoid going all the way to Chinatown and dealing with that mess.

                So now we make our way up north Kensington Ave to the corner of Baldwin and Kensington. This place has by far the best selection of specialty items (like Belgian endives, or purple potatoes, blood orange (when no one else has them) etc). But it's a total rip off. In fact, I never ever buy anything from them. Ever. Unless they really have something I can't find at pusatari (on Church, my other best place to buy produce, almost always packed with Ontario good, very reasonably priced and totally unrelated to the other Pusatari’s in town).

                Now we head West On Baldwin, on the Corner of Agusta and Baldwin there is another Asian family run shop. She has very good mushrooms and almost always something special out on her store front. Like celery heart, or romaine heart. Fairly priced items.

                If we go north on Augusta, at the corner of Naussa there is a place on the South East Side. This is a very popular place. I think it sells the most in the Market. Always line ups. Quality ingridients, a little pricier than the first two places I mentioned but a bit higher quality. For example, Cherries from Chile would be 3.99 at the first place, here they would 4.99, but slightly higher quality, but NOT always. I rarely buy anything from here unless it’s a special item purchase.

                On the same corner, there is the Organic place. Which is too pricy for me. But I do tend to buy seasonal items from him. Obviously, if you have the money, the best choice.

                Last but not least, is the place across the street from the organic place on the West side. This is a budget of all budget. It is the cheapest in the market, and usually the poorest quality. But, you’d be surprised you might find some bargains.

                Sorry for the long response, but hey, if there is one thing I know, it’s produce in the market.

                3 Replies
                1. re: gastronom

                  Perola's on Augusta has limited selection, more focussed on the South American menu, but has the best peppers in the market.

                  1. re: gastronom

                    Thank you for your detailed report of the produce vendors in the Kensington market. I find your assesment of the stores to be quite accurate! I myself, like frequenting the first two places and Pots at the organic shop for specialty items or when I feel like dropping $ on healthy stuff. :)

                    1. re: gastronom

                      Thanks alot for your reply. Nice!

                    2. None - I stopped buying any food at Kensington years ago. Like another person mentioned - Kensington is there more for nostalgia and tourists.

                      1. We were in kensington yesterday and this is what i have to say: i am a huge believer in local and organic produce. as well as small business. there ARE some exceptional food stands in the market at least one for fruit, organic and misc. veg, where the quality is quite amazing. there are also some low quality vendors who sell nearly rotten food. Ken is great for artisanal bread, coffee, and various ethnic things (and bulk). are there other artisanal shops in the city comparable or better? yes in fact during the winter we get CSA delivery from plan b. and i do a lot of produce shopping at organics on bloor, as well as four theives (harvest wagon and such) but to say that ken is for nostalgia and tourists is totally incorrect. And pearl is right, the beauty of the market is that u have a lot of choice and many of the produce vendors genuinely care for their product and buy more exotic things (like beautiful blood oranges which we ate with scallops and argula). the only problem i have with the food terminal is that its not local, but we also live in canada and that in itself limits the range of diverse produce one is able to buy. if i lived in Hawaii i'd be 100% local but in toronto i settle for 50% local and 100% small business. that's just my 2 cents.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: zed1984

                          Want "artisanal"? Try the Dufferin Grove Market every Thursday from 3-7PM. Kensington thrives on rep and chic. Which is not to say that there aren't good shops, but in my experience if you suss out local, as in neighbourhood, greengrocers doing a brisk trade with Asian, Caribbean, and/or European clientèle you will get better results.

                          1. re: mrbozo

                            totally agree. we buy bread from pain perdu. just visited the green barn farmers market at wynchwood n st. clair, bought 3 local cheeses. we shop at JLB the pinoy market for a bunch of things.