HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >
Are you making a specialty food?
TELL US

Buy Local in Ontario

jayt90 Jul 19, 2009 06:15 AM

I would like to start a thread on good local food sources in the GTA and Ontario.

In the media section there is a thread about 12 Sobey's franchisees leaving the fold, so they can buy locally
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/636642

Some of these stores (L&M Markets) are in Arthur, Elora, Harriston, Palmerston, Dundalk, and Durham.

In the GTA, Highland Farms and Fiesta Farms sell as much local produce and meat as they can get. Highland Farms even has their own meat and fruit on sale from time to time.

Several upscale stores such as Cumbrae's have a local policy, some sourcing from their own farms.

This list should be longer, and growing. What is Longo's policy?
Are there others ?

  1. Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. TorontoJo Jul 19, 2009 06:30 AM

    Fresh From the Farm on Donlands sells meat and produce from local Mennonite farmers. You can order meat from them in advance for pickup, or they have some extra fresh meats from their weekly run and always have a selection of frozen meats. They also carry free trade items like coffee, cocoa and chocolate It's a wonderful little store.

    http;//www.freshfromthefarm.ca

    4 Replies
    1. re: TorontoJo
      e
      embee Jul 19, 2009 11:41 AM

      I buy my eggs at Fresh From the Farm, but I no longer even consider other stuff from there. I wish I felt differently, since I pass them almost every day.

      Most of the prepared foods I've tried have been both very expensive and very bland. The baked goods (other than the St John's bread) have been really awful. The packaged groceries are available elsewhere for less. I don't like the idea of buying meat wrapped in opaque paper, and they aren't happy when I ask them to open something.

      1. re: embee
        foodyDudey Jul 19, 2009 11:56 AM

        I agree with your assesment of FFTF. I'm also only buying eggs there now, and it's an inconvenience to drive over just for those. Everything else is available for less at other stores. They are still good for fresh ducks and goose, and some good garlic later in the season. Most of the meat has much more fat than I'd like. The bacon is very fatty and often over-salted. I roast my own coffee now, but I don' see why they have to bring coffee in all the way from Vancouver Island.

        1. re: embee
          a
          Atahualpa Jul 20, 2009 08:59 AM

          " . . . and they aren't happy when I ask them to open something. . . "

          Yeah, what is with that? I'm supposed to buy my meat sight unseen? I live less than two main streets away and would love to patronize them, but, that just puts me right off. I asked them to unwrap something once and they made a huge fuss about it. However, the meat looked good and I bought it and cooked it and it was tasty. So, I decided to just buy a package the next time and when I got home it was quite brown and had a slightly unpleasant odour.

          So, they don't want to show it to me first, and their quality standard isn't high enough for me to just trust them – so, I haven't been back.

        2. re: TorontoJo
          Full tummy Jul 19, 2009 07:58 PM

          I shop at FFTF. I don't buy the prepared foods, never have, owing to early negative feedback on them. I rarely purchase the non-perishables, except I do enjoy some of the jarred apricots and peaches mid-winter; they really are yummy. Won't buy steak there, as they're wrapped in paper (as embee says), and they're cut too thin, in my opinion. But, many of the meats are wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator, and I have been satisfied with the value of these purchases. I always enjoy the seasonal turkeys and bone-in hams. The latter was absolutely delicious and received raves, which I not only attributed to the meat quality, but also to the use of a meat thermometer, heheh. They often have lovely and well-priced produce in the summer months, and even secured for me red peppers, in bulk, at a reasonable price for a batch pepper grilling I undertook.

          Oh, ya, and as everyone's mentioned, the eggs. Them's good eggs.

          Farmers Daughter on Kingston Road is a lovely little shop, with some great stuff, but does anyone else find it overpriced? Sometimes I feel as though I'm shopping in Harvest Wagon... I mostly leave without having made a single purchase. For example, they sell the little sesame cracker chips in containers at an astounding price, compared to what I pay for them at Bulk Barn...

        3. s
          simplepieman Jul 19, 2009 07:09 AM

          A friend recently grilled up some Mennonite sausages from Fresh From The Farm. They may have been the tastiest sausages I have ever had in my life.

          And I hope it's not off-topic for this thread, but the farmers' markets need a mention. I've been hitting a couple of little ones downtown, Sick Kids on Tuesday morning and Bloor/Borden on Wednesday afternoon, and the available local produce is just fantastic. Here's a list of local markets:

          http://tfmn.ca/?page_id=2

          and here's Foodland's list of what's in season:

          http://www.foodland.gov.on.ca/english...

          2 Replies
          1. re: simplepieman
            i
            iamafoodie Jul 19, 2009 08:21 AM

            My regular grocery store is Michael-Angelo's in Mississaauga where they have an ever increasing number of big, red "LOCAL" signs in the produce and meat areas. They also have a Markham store.

            1. re: iamafoodie
              duckdown Jul 19, 2009 03:40 PM

              I've driven by this place before but never been inside, maybe it is worth checking out

              thanks for the info

          2. t
            toveggiegirl Jul 19, 2009 11:18 AM

            What a great idea!

            Farmer's Daughter sell produce from their own family farm (Shabatura Produce) and other local farmers, They also have some yummy prepared foods.
            http://www.fresheverything.ca/

            In addition to naturally raised meat, Meat on the Beach sells quite a bit of local produce.
            http://www.meatonthebeach.com/

            Culinarium
            If you click on this link, you can see what local produce they have this week:
            http://www.culinarium.ca/index.php?page=seasonal-produce

            Karma Co-op tries to stock as much local food as possible.
            http://www.karmacoop.org/

            There are a few vendors in the St. Lawrence Market's South Market that sell local items and multiple health food stores have organic and/or local produce including The Wholesome Market , Noah's, the Big Carrot... Also, I can't remember their names, but a few of the stores in Kensington Market sell local produce.

            In Mississauga, BlossomPure sells local meat and produce and various products from regional Amish and Mennonite farms.
            http://blossompure.wordpress.com/
            And, of course, the many farmer's markets and CSAs.

            A good resource to locate and discuss local food is: http://www.localeating.ca/

            -----
            Meat on the Beach
            1860 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4L, CA

            Karma Food
            739 Palmerston Ave, Toronto, ON M6G, CA

            Farmer's Daughter
            946 Kingston Rd, Toronto, ON M4E, CA

            Beaches Wholesome Food Store
            2234 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4E, CA

            Culinarium
            705 Mt Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S 2N4, CA

            Big Carrot Natural Food Market
            348 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K, CA

            Noah's Natural Foods
            322 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S, CA

            BlossomPure Organic Meat & Dairy
            714 Lakeshore Rd E, Mississauga, ON L5G, CA

            4 Replies
            1. re: toveggiegirl
              Otonabee Jul 19, 2009 03:11 PM

              Great topic!! I am really getting interested in the 100 Mile Diet lately. So I have been doing quite a bit of research

              I am a big fan of Farmer's Daughter. Also on that Kingston Road stretch is Close to the Bone http://www.closetothebone.ca/. I know that they were being pretty picky about where they got their stuff from. Also the Cheese place next door, I believe, sells local products. Both places are VERY helpful with reasonable prices.

              1. re: toveggiegirl
                b
                BeauSoleil Jul 20, 2009 07:19 AM

                Culinarium: The quaklity depends on the day and time of the day when you shop. I was shocked to see limp veggies on their shelves and the price shocked me even more. I think that those in charge should be monitoring this store more closely.

                1. re: toveggiegirl
                  b
                  BeauSoleil Jul 20, 2009 07:24 AM

                  Living Midtown, our choice is very limited: Metro, Sobey's, Apple Tree every Thursday, and St.Lawrence Market. I wish there would be more selections. I understand that local farmers usually have a long haul and that makes food price more expensive. They do not have the economy of scale big stores have. Nevertheless I think that many of us would like to be able to buy fresh food. My only problem is with eggs : $5 for a dozen of very large eggs. They are very good but they do not keep as long as those sold at Metro or Sobey's.

                  1. re: toveggiegirl
                    a
                    alicethedog Apr 19, 2010 08:42 PM

                    Here's a new Toronto CSA for fruits, vegetables, herbs and other grown produce. From June 1 to Oct 26 (2010) this farm provides it's members with a weekly delivery of ultrafresh, organic produce. Here's the info including the link to the registration package... http://www.templesinai.net/priadamah Deliveries are weekly to a location near Avenue Rd and Hwy 401 where you choose your products right off the truck. (Products are grown less than 20 kms away)

                  2. jayt90 Jul 19, 2009 03:32 PM

                    Sobey's has been selling Munro's Honey, Lambton county, ON.
                    They also have an excellent salad shrimp, pre-cooked, from Labrador (Metro also)
                    Bulk Barn has Red Fife flour from ON, and honey from Burke's, Buckhorn ON
                    Costco's fresh trout comes from Manitoulin, and they source onions, carrots, and potatoes locally. Too bad about the truckloads from California.
                    It would be nice if these stores had red Ontario signs on local products, like Michael-Angelo.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: jayt90
                      duckdown Jul 19, 2009 03:41 PM

                      Agreed, all I have near my really is a Sobeys and an A&P and finding local stuff is almost impossible there.. all I've seen worthwhile recently is asparagus and strawberries

                      and the strawberries weren't very good :(

                      1. re: duckdown
                        t
                        tjr Jul 19, 2009 04:42 PM

                        I went picking, and they were good, though not as good as they've been in previous years.

                    2. aser Jul 19, 2009 05:24 PM

                      jayt90 - try and find an issue of Edible Toronto somewhere, it'll answer all your questions about access to local produce. It can be found from stores like Fiesta Farms, Big Carrot, to places like JK and Gladstone Hotel.

                      http://www.ediblecommunities.com/toro...

                      One new farmer's market I noticed recently was at Fairview Mall, on Tuesdays.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: aser
                        t
                        tuttebene Jul 19, 2009 06:02 PM

                        Do you happen to know the times for when the Fairview market opens and closes on Tuesdays?

                        1. re: tuttebene
                          Wahooty Jul 19, 2009 07:18 PM

                          According to this, Tuesdays and Fridays 10-6.

                          http://www.torontolife.com/daily/styl...

                          Aser, have you been? Do you know what's available?

                          1. re: Wahooty
                            aser Jul 21, 2009 03:07 AM

                            I've only passed by, didn't have time to look. It's located in a small parking section next to the TTC pickup area for Don Mills station.

                            I would say there are about 15 stands or so.....

                      2. DockPotato Jul 20, 2009 01:59 AM

                        Here is a valuable site for anyone serious about fresh and inexpensive local food.

                        http://www.foodlinkgreybruce.com/index.php?page=content&page_id=8

                        That particular one lists my local suppliers in Grey/Bruce but if you go to the bottom of the page, above the row of asparagus, to the end of the listings, you will find this "Resources/Links" URL which takes you to similar site in other municipalities covered by this board, "ONTARIO (INCLUDING TORONTO)"

                        www.foodlinkgreybruce.com/index.php?p...

                        Get out there before the crops are done!

                        1. duckdown Jul 20, 2009 12:29 PM

                          I'm trying to find local watermelons... supposedly there are yellow fleshed watermelons and even bright orange fleshed ones called OrangeGlo watermelons.. or even a good red watermelon would make me happy... all these imported ones from the USA i've been buying lately aren't very good at all. I thought I had a system down for picking out good ones but apparently it hasn't been working

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: duckdown
                            Kagemusha Jul 20, 2009 02:02 PM

                            Way too early. You need to check the provincial/Foodland listings for what's available when. Anyone living near or able to drive to the GTA fringes can usually get farmgate or close to it. I have some trouble with the over-priced preciousness of the downtown "farmers'" markets. Happy I don't have to deal with them. The second tier grocery chains seem to be down with local sourcing far more than the Weston heir.

                            1. re: duckdown
                              t
                              Tatai Jul 20, 2009 09:51 PM

                              Ontario watermelon can be ready as early as the second-to-last week of July, but I believe it will be later this year because of the cool weather.

                              I did buy some early sweet corn (from Southwestern Ontario) this past weekend; I think it could have used a couple more weeks in the field. The local yellow plums I bought, on the other hand, were juicy and very sweet and flavourful. Fingers crossed that local peaches will be, too.

                              I think this is about the end of cherry season. From what I've heard, it was a bad one for Ontario growers: one large cherry farm I know of produced only 50% of its expected harvest.

                            2. a
                              Arcadiaseeker Jul 21, 2009 09:01 AM

                              Badali's on Bayview always has local produce and it's usually excellent. Not all their produce is local but if it's in season they will typically have it from a local supplier. I hear he buys directly from certain farmers -- they have been on Bayview for years and years.

                              1. jayt90 Oct 3, 2009 07:22 PM

                                I have just been informed about an artisan festival at Keene, Ontario (north side of Rice Lake,) with fresh farmed goats' meat at a stall operated by Cindy.
                                The date is Sat., Oct 25.

                                1. DockPotato Nov 20, 2009 02:54 PM

                                  This thread is too good to let wane. Here is what I found this past season in Bruce/Grey.

                                  --------------------------------------------------

                                  Johnson Creek Farms

                                  Murray Johnson raises Texas Longhorns at the intersection of North Line and Side Road 15 north of Kincardine. Virtualy no fat, grass-fed, and chemical free. The "beefy" taste is amazing once you take it past rare. Rare is good too. Care in cooking as with no fat the piece is done quickly. There are a lot of juices and the gravy/sauce is sublime.

                                  I don't know if there are any other herds in Canada. Google 'Texas Longhorn" for a profile. Believe me, this a totally different beef in every aspect.

                                  I've had 4 samplings with one failure due to ignorance on my part.

                                  --------------------------------------------------

                                  New Life Mills in Hanover

                                  A God send to celiacs and others looking for specialized flours and more. Also for livestock and pets. They retail at the base of silos and their mill. Google and check.

                                  --------------------------------------------------

                                  Paisely Farmers Market

                                  DFNSLM (Definitely Not the Saint Lawrence Farmers Market) located in front of the arena just off main street. On Saturdays in good season you will find a handful of vendors. The vendors are largely Amish with uncertified organic produce, baking and preserves. The rest are crafters with candles etc. Also present is Dave Weber who offers "pasteured eggs and fowl" and organic beef, veal and Berkshire to order.

                                  --------------------------------------------------

                                  Beer Jelly

                                  At the Keady Farmers Market. Buddy from Oliphant makes it and it's good. If you've never done Keady make the trip.

                                  --------------------------------------------------

                                  Ox Heart Tomatoes

                                  We had a late spring as you may recall. By the time i wished to do tomatoes they were off the racks. "Kueplers?'" operate a produce stand. They also rear replants. Nothing else available so i restocked tomatoes and a few other dead items there. Oddly enough there was a thread request for this same strain at the time from someone down the coast. Good, hardy choice and tasty. I admire the toughness rather than the quality.

                                  --------------------------------------------------

                                  Howells vs Purdys

                                  Had a chance to compare.Howells is good, Purdys exquisite. Based on frozen samples of whitefish and pickerel at local fries. Significant difference.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: DockPotato
                                    j
                                    julesrules Nov 22, 2009 03:39 AM

                                    What is beer jelly? What kind of booth do I look for at Keady?

                                    1. re: julesrules
                                      DockPotato Nov 22, 2009 12:25 PM

                                      My first thought was a Homer one when I saw the samples, "Ummm, beeeer!" Not so.

                                      Think of hot pepper jelly - a bit of heat, a bit of pepper taste but still somewhat sweet. Same with beer jelly. It's a savoury jelly with a good beer taste. Use it as you would pepper jelly or mint jelly. Very nice beside steak and mushroom pie.

                                      The booth is small and nondescript. A small tabletop affair as I recall in the second or third row on the east side near the auction barn.

                                    2. re: DockPotato
                                      jayt90 Nov 22, 2009 04:37 AM

                                      I wonder if any Purdy's lake fish makes it to GTA?
                                      http://www.purdyfisheries.com/locatio...

                                      1. re: jayt90
                                        DockPotato Nov 22, 2009 12:57 PM

                                        Doubt it.

                                        The reason Purdys' product is so good is that they are trap netters. The majority of the Great Lakes fleet uses gill nets. The fish are snared behind the gills, die shortly and retieved on the next run - next day or whenever weather permits. Still, the catch holds out well and is a fine product.

                                        Trap nets are impoundment nets and when they are drawn in, the fish are scooped out live and flapping. They are still alive when they reach shore and live for some time longer as they were packed in ice chips from the start. There is the difference and it's notable.

                                        Purdys has a quota and can't exceed it for any species. I'm thinking that anything caught is bought.

                                        401/402 is the fastest way to Sarnia. ; )

                                        1. re: DockPotato
                                          tbonetak Dec 30, 2009 10:50 AM

                                          PIcked up some Purdy's smoked fish at Culinarium on Mt. Pleasant recently, actually. It was a gift, though, so I can't report on how good it was. Looked great, though.

                                    3. n
                                      NorfolkGuy Nov 21, 2009 07:23 AM

                                      May I suggest visiting a "country dweller"? I do realize that a lot of city folks don't have access to wheels, but getting out of the city is truly the way to go. I'm often amazed at the prices people on here pay for "local"" stuff. Most are even happy about paying double, triple, or more for common, everyday produce. A short 2ish hour trip to Norfolk county, will get you most veggies, fruit, meat, fish, eggs etc. at a reason able price. (maybe rent a van???). From early May (asperagus) to
                                      Mid November (sqaush, apples) the supply and selection is endless. Many farmers are willing to make the trip, to take advantage of you just because is soooo easy to take your money. I guess city folks just aren't willing to make the drive.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: NorfolkGuy
                                        jayt90 Nov 21, 2009 07:29 AM

                                        Norfolk county is amazing, and I'll visit next weekend.
                                        More than some other counties, there seems to be food at roadside or farmgate that is worth driving for, such as eggs, apples,lake fish, country hams, peanuts, root vegs., sausages etc.

                                      2. m
                                        merlene Dec 30, 2009 07:53 AM

                                        Great thread! I'm in east Hamilton and rely on public transit (I don't drive) so I'm looking for local options (100 Mile Diet concept) for rice & legumes. I'm willing to go to Mississauga and Toronto to stock up as long as it's a location easily accessible via public transit. Does anyone know of any place I can find Ontario grown rice, lentils, beans?

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: merlene
                                          jayt90 Dec 30, 2009 04:31 PM

                                          There is no rice , even wild rice, grown within 100 miles of you. You could substitute wheat, rye, oats and barley-and other grains, using them in risotto, couscous and bulgar recipes.
                                          Beans from S.W. Ontario are available if you ask the stores where they come from. Some will be from the midwest, but the Ontario products are out there too.

                                          1. re: jayt90
                                            t
                                            toveggiegirl Dec 30, 2009 11:03 PM

                                            There is Ontario-grown wild rice (but it may be more than 100 miles).

                                            Merlene, have you tried Goodness Me?
                                            http://www.goodnessme.ca

                                        2. t
                                          toveggiegirl Dec 30, 2009 11:15 AM

                                          I found a new (to me, at least) website that allows you to put in your city or postal code to find local food (farmers' markets, retailers, and restaurants).
                                          http://eat-local.ca

                                          1. t
                                            theboer Feb 7, 2010 05:41 PM

                                            This is a link that i have been using for meat in Ontario... all Independent butcher shops.
                                            http://www.ontariomeatproducts.ca/
                                            There seems to be too many options on the search and they didn't list any of the company websites which is inconvenient but if you're looking for a narrower list then just start with the prize winners at this link
                                            http://www.ontariomeatproducts.ca/ont...

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: theboer
                                              a
                                              albanis Feb 8, 2010 06:18 AM

                                              I joined a CSA last year and the produce is so good, I can't even go into a grocery store again.

                                              Their info is here but there are a few in Toronto and you don't need a car.

                                              http://kawarthaecologicalgrowers.com/

                                              They sell meat and eggs too.

                                            2. s
                                              SylviaB Aug 6, 2010 02:28 PM

                                              Clean Food Connection: fresh veg, fish, meats, fruit, pickles etc.
                                              http://www.cleanfoodconnection.com
                                              order online & they deliver to you (can pay by debit too)
                                              based out of Mt Albert, Ontario - also have 2 other shops

                                              Organic Grains: Organic Whole Spelt, Soft Wheat Flour and Rye in 5 & 10 lb quantities.(or by the tonne
                                              )http://www.millsmills.ca

                                              Show Hidden Posts