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Apr 10, 2009 09:14 AM

Inexpensive organic groceries in Toronto

I'm trying to make the switch to organic, but in a way that won't break the bank. I was wondering if people could suggest their favorite inexpensive, organic, yet tasty places to buy things like meat and produce. I've been doing most of my shopping at Essence Of Life on Kensington in Kensington Market, since they seem to have the best prices I've found on things like Bob's Red Mill grains and Kicking Horse coffee (staples in my life.) I'm having trouble with organic meats, though. I live near the Healthy Butcher on Queen, but it's simply not in my budget to shop there for more than the occasional treat. I'm happy to buy in bulk and cut, package and freeze things myself. It's sort of how I shop now - I buy family packs when they're on sale and portion them up. Is there a way to do this for organic meat in Toronto? Also, can anyone recommend a good place for fresh bulk grains? I don't need to pay for the Bob's Red Mill packaging, but I've been burnt one too many times on stale grains from the bulk sections.

Thanks so much!!

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  1. To me 'inexpensive organic' is an oxy moron.

    1. Beefconnections has one organic beef farmer. They are north of Guelph, but deliver their products frozen and butcher wrapped every month or two. The next delivery to GTA is in June.

      1. Although it's not exclusively organic, Fiesta Farms on Christie between Dupont and Bloor has a good selection of organic products, often at good prices. For example, I bought a huge bunch of organic broccoli for less than $2.00 a couple of weeks ago.

        1. Tutti Frutti on Kensington a couple of stores up from Essence of Life has the best prices on bulk organics I've found.

          1. Thanks so much everyone! I know "inexpensive organic" is somewhat of an oxymoron, but I also figured there were smarter ways to shop than just filing up the cart at Whole Foods.

            Beef Connections looks very interesting! Thanks!

            Fiesta Farms - I always forget about them. I only discovered them last summer, but seem to have stopped going when fall hit. I will definitely be putting them back on my radar.

            Tutti Frutti - its amazing how we can get so focused on what we know... I always walk right past them into Essence of Life. (Kind of how I always walk right past Mendel's in favour of Cheese Magic, though I don't know that there's really *any* excellent cheese in Kensington.) I'll definitely be stopping in there from now on.

            Thanks again everyone!!

            3 Replies
            1. re: looz

              Your best bet is to join a buying club connected to a food co-op.

              Does anyone on this board belong to a buying club connected to the Ontario Natural Food Co-op? I know people in Leslieville who belong.

              Another option:

              It doesn't make financial sense to me to convert to organic while continuing to shop at "regular" health food stores. But I have friends (who are on a budget) who do their weekly shopping at The Big Carrot.

              I believe there are also farmer share programs where you pay a farmer and get portions of meat, dairy and produce. There are also Good Food Box programs where you get in-season local produce delivered at regular intervals.

              1. re: Food Tourist

                I've looked into farm shares before, but my husband is a very picky eater, and I've always worried that I would be stuck with half a box of veggies that he wouldn't eat.

                I'd never heard of food buying clubs before, and that looks like it's worth finding more out about. In the mean time, Karma Co-op seems like an excellent idea. I'd have no trouble donating a couple of hours a month in exchange for less expensive groceries. I will definitely be checking them out soon. Seems like a very practical approach, and one that would work with my life (still get to select my own produce, etc.) Thanks!

              2. re: looz

                You're right to keep walking past Mendel's. IIRC the original Mandel's (note spelling difference) in Baldwin Village (now John's Italian) was a renown dairy that closed in the 70s (?). Mendel's has been passing themselves off as the real thing ever since. Terrible "discount" cheese, pushy servers.