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Toronto Undergound Food Market

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I was reading about this on Blogto.com. The basic idea is that it will be a market outside of the normal channels where people can sell their home baked/cooked goods, etc. How do people think something like this will do in Toronto? Do you think the membership structure used in San Fransico would allow it to operate in Toronto? This is about food and specifically about Toronto so hopefully this is the right section to post it in.

It is better described here:
http://www.blogto.com/eat_drink/2011/...

or the Tumblr page that is proposing the idea:

http://torontoundergroundmarket.tumbl...

  1. I think this is cool - it's sort of like the Toronto Bakes For Japan thing that went on a few weeks ago, but without the fund-raising aspect.

    However, the second anyone gets sick, I can see things going sour...

    That being said, I'm excited to see this come to fruition.

    1. I'm not that keen on it. The aim in SF was basically to circumvent existing health/sanitation standards whose costs served to bar amateurs from commercial sales. How would it be any different here? There aren't even food trucks in the GTA on par with bigger US cities, so how would this fly? A culinary Etsy really isn't my idea of fun.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Kagemusha

        It's a bit of a dice-roll, for sure... still, I think it's an interesting concept.

        Maybe having a shared professional kitchen would be better, and home-bakers could time-share that.

        1. re: jlunar

          Interesting until you're puking your guts out for 24hrs. If we had private health care, I'd say "caveat emptor, baby," but we all end up paying for this sort of "freedom" when it goes sour.

          1. re: Kagemusha

            It can't be more dangerous than eating at say, McDonalds, can it? Now there's your death trap, the chefs are all teenagers.
            That being said, I think I'll still pass on the salmon mousse.

            1. re: graydyn

              True, *some* if not most working at McDonalds may be younger workers, but at the same time, at least corporate gives them standards to adhere to and training for food safety, etc. In addition, lest anything happened, you can at least identify AND locate the accountable party. We cannot assume that a home chef would necessarily meet or have a certain level of food safety standards...that is the purpose of inspections. IMO, in that sense, it may be riskier than eating at say, McDonalds. It may just all depend on your appetite for risk... :-p

              I think it would be an interesting thing for Toronto to have, though I doubt I would buy anything myself...

              1. re: pinkprimp

                "We cannot assume that a home chef would necessarily meet or have a certain level of food safety standards...that is the purpose of inspections." In theory the inspections and training would ensure proper food handling, however inspections are not happening on a regular enough basis. And even though people may be trained as food handlers in places such as McDonalds, that doesn't mean that the standards are upheld on a daily basis. Just because a place passed inspection on one day, does not mean the next day they those pickle jars are properly sterilized for preserving. I would never eat at McDonalds, but may be inclined to purchase food at an underground market if it was a market taking place on a regular basis and saw the same vendors representing themselves and their product.

                1. re: phisherking

                  "In theory the inspections and training would ensure proper food handling, however inspections are not happening on a regular enough basis. And even though people may be trained as food handlers in places such as McDonalds, that doesn't mean that the standards are upheld on a daily basis."

                  I agree with you completely. My point wasn't that inspection guaranteed safety - just that when one needs to be inspected, they are likely to be better informed on food safety for the sake of passing the inspection.

                  1. re: phisherking

                    When you say you would never eat at McDonald's, surely it isn't because you believe you'd be in the hospital with food poisoning as a result. I mean, McDonald's has everything so automated that the people doing the "cooking" aren't really.

                2. re: graydyn

                  "Chefs?" The chefs are all machines, with teenagers responding to timers to move the food from one place to another.

            2. re: Kagemusha

              A bit off topic but I've been to what are called "home kitchens" whereby people would go to these homes and order food and eat there (or can get take-out as well) for money, essentially like a restaurant. It's never occured to me before, but it doesn't seem likely that they would have undergone health food safety premises inspections.

              I agree with Kagemusha, there is an element of risk involved in these underground food establishments.

            3. This'll never fly. People and authorities are so paranoid when it comes to health and safety. Toronto will never have a great street food culture or underground food culture. It isn't happening. We have the strictest health and safety laws in the world. Heck we can't even get any real traditional ham from Spain. We pay ridiculous prices for dairy and poultry. They make it as difficult as possible for food operators and will continue to do so for regular folk.

              3 Replies
              1. re: uberathlete

                "We have the strictest health and safety laws in the world."

                Then why can't we eat hamburger rare anymore? Why do our eggs carry salmonella?

                1. re: crawfish

                  That's the point. The laws are strict therefore we cannot.

                  1. re: JennaBean

                    If the laws on food handling and meat processing were strict enough we could eat raw eggs like we used to. It's the massive meat packers that have infected the entire chicken life cycle with salmonella. The small operations kept things clean.

              2. "Just gimme five bucks and, uh, sign this waiver..."

                http://travel.nytimes.com/2011/04/10/...

                1. There are already underground kitchens in the city. With the number of different ethnicities in this city, there are already people who produce food to order and it's not inspected or organized. No different than anything else, I make good food and you want me to make some for you for cash. No problem I say.