Whether you live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, or are travelling anywhere, celebrate local growers, producers, makers, and shakers. Big Box, Big Agriculture, and Big Food are all counting on us to want what we already know – let’s reject that and take care of our community and ourselves, better.
I have a whole website dedicated to celebrating my favourite things. Living in Ontario, we are so lucky to be surrounded by good people doing good things (which, luckily for us, involves a lot of good chocolate and sweets).
You may have seen some of my favourites on the shelves at your health food store, grocery store, farmers’ market, or online. I promise that they are worth a second glance, a label read, a try, and likely a rave review. Here’s my non-exhaustive list of some of our favourite products made right here in Toronto, for you to try now.
Vote with your dollar. Instagram or Tweet about local products or events they are supporting – social media works. Serve their food at meals with friend and family – get them hooked too. We should all support local food – so much good comes from it!
If you know me personally, you couldn’t have expected me to start this list with anything other than chocolate. Chocosol makes fresh, whole food, stone ground, artisanal chocolate, in small batches in Toronto. They use organic cacao, sourced from horizontal trade relationships with Indiginous communities in the Lacondon Jungle of Chiapas and the Oaxacan mountains of Southern Mexico. Yes, they really are as cool as they sound; and their chocolate is one of my favourite ways to indulge (often for breakfast).
My family eats dairy-free and nut-free, and lucky for us, there are a number of sweet alternatives popping up around Toronto that we feel good about serving our kids. Two bakeries with sweets in stores to enjoy are New Moon Kitchen and Sweets From the Earth, local business that make delicious, vegan, kosher, allergen-free, and preservative free baked goods. Both companies bake in their own, dedicated nut free facilities, so you can trust their nut-free baked goods to be school-safe too.
Pleasantville Creamery makes handcrafted ice cream from hemp – in glass jars too! They’re 100% vegan, organic, and ethical. Try the Richie Rich for a creamy chocolate mint treat. Like all of their products, it’s wheat, gluten, GMO, preservatives, and refined sugar free.
Fermented foods are practically a food group for me. Alchemy Pickle Company is one of my favourite local brands for items like pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha. They support Southern Ontario organic farmers, which means that every batch brings something unique to their glass jars.
Because RawFoodz makes organic, vegan, nut free salad dressings, dips, and spreads in glass jars, I’m obviously a fan. Go ahead, read the label. You’ll find nothing but whole ingredients that you can feel good about. If you aren’t making your own dressings, this is the only brand to buy – from the fridge, not a shelf!
Technically, Humble Bread operates out of Prince Edward County, Ontario, but I’m adding them to this Toronto list anyway, since I buy it at Brickworks Market. Their independently-owned bakery is housed in a barn from the 1870s, and everything is baked in a large custom-designed wood-fired oven. They source the best ingredients from local farms that only use organic or sustainable growing methods, and they are extraordinarily nice people too.
Yoso has created a new clean, vegan cream cheese style spread, made from lightly toasted cashews. It just launched and it’s already received rave reviews from people besides me! Check out these Instagram posts from Hana James, Alina Islam, and Ricki Heller, to name a few. Yoso makes great organic coconut and other dairy free yogurts too!
While I have a large selection of organic teas at work, clients who come in always ask about the bright orange Turmeric Tea that I steep at my desk. Turmeric Teas creates signature loose leaf blends, that help you energize, relax, cool off, or warm up, depending on your flavour of choice, with the healing benefits of turmeric. These teas are brought to you by the same people from Good Food for Good!
My family’s favourite way to support local is to visit our Toronto Farmers’ Markets and buy from the farmers directly! I have so much respect for the organic farmers who grow our food. If you can’t make it out to the market, or need produce not at the market, you can still support farmers growing organic produce by shopping at an independent retailer, or by arranging for delivery through Mamma Earth, Fresh City Farms, or Real Food Toronto. Of course, you can also grow your own (have you seen my kale forest?).
There are many ways to support local businesses, and so many local businesses to support here in Toronto. Buying from companies like these directly supports the health of our community. I can’t name a better way to be introduced to delicious food – and good people.
Toronto City Skyline Photo by Tomas Urbina.