Big-brand supermarkets are like malls: Clean, efficient and slightly alienating. We prefer to buy food from somewhere neighbourhood-oriented — and preferably not publicly traded. Herewith, where to buy good, fresh groceries in Toronto.
For 20-plus years, Fiesta has been offering quality produce, meat, ethnic ingredients and knowledgeable staff. Ontario-grown purple cauliflower and seasonal wild blueberries are sold alongside Kerr Farms short ribs and sublime house-made sausage. 200 Christie St., 416-537-1235.
Essence of Life Organics
This Kensington Market shop is crammed with natural and organic products: tortilla chips, soups, juice and a modest bulk section (buckwheat, quinoa, etc.). Locavores might complain about the presence of American brand names, but not about the competitive prices. 50 Kensington Ave., 416-506-0345.
The Sweet Potato
Owner Digs Dorfman draws on a wide network to source affordable, local, organic goods, like Ontario yellow watermelons, organic nectarines, kale and corn. Vegetarians are well-served, while omnivores go for Fenwood Farms chicken. 2995 Dundas St. W., 416-762-4848.
The Karma Co-op
This co-op which sells a full range of grocery products, takes conscious consumption seriously: A volunteer-driven Food Issues Committee curates the stock. To shop there you’ve got to volunteer two hours a month, but all are welcome to a “trial shop” before committing. 739 Palmerston Ave., 416-534-1470.
Meating on Queen
It’s not a grocery store per se, but this family-run butcher shop gets honourable mention for its fairly priced, antibiotic- and hormone-free Ontario meat, and especially the hand-stuffed sausages, available in 30 varieties for the summer. 1160 Queen St. E., 416-461-7500.
Image courtesy of StudioGabe.