I'm always on the hunt for that magic combo of quality, variety and competitive prices when it comes to food shopping. I have yet to find one store that has it all! That means I'm a busy bee buzzing from one store to another. Even though it makes for a few more stops in the car than I would like, coming home with bags of healthy food that tick all the boxes feels very satisfying.
So to save you from doing the run-around looking for the best food stores in Toronto, I've done the research for you. Here are my 3 top current favourites (in my shopping order):
HERBS AND NUTRITION
Location: Bloor & Bathurst (opp. Honest Eds)
Variety: Very similar to Noah's except they have a extended personal care section
Quality: Good depth in the quality of products: organic, gluten free selections in all departments
What keeps me coming back: The prices! I usually start my shopping here for all the basics, then head to Noah's for the bulk items and finally to Whole Foods for veggies/fruit, fish and meat. Plus it's clean, check-out is quick and they play classical music which is very soothing!
Noah's Natural Foods
Locations: With locations in midtown, uptown and the core, Noah's is very accessible
Variety: For small stores, Noah's carries a surprisingly broad range of products, including a small offering of the most popular fresh fruits/veggies
Quality: The store carries premium products as well as mid/low range offerings for all budgets
What keeps me coming back: They have THE best selection and price when it comes to organic bulk bin items: seeds, beans, nuts, flours, dried fruit, grains, teas and herbs, to name a few. Plus on the last Friday of every month, they have a 10% sale... it's a great day to stock up!
Whole foods Market
Locations: (Yorkville, Yonge & Sheppard & Bayview/Eglinton (sometime in 2015)
Variety: Pretty much has it all covered.
Quality: Top quality in whatever you are looking for
What keeps me coming back: Three main reasons: Meat, fish and produce + 1.5 hours of free parking right under the store if you spend $25 which isn't hard to do!
I like to know where my meat comes from and how the animals were treated. WF's have a Global Animal Partnership 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating which I find very helpful when deciding what I'm going to be feeding my family with.
Step 1: No crates, no caging, no crowding. No antibiotics/hormones. May be fed with grain
Step 2: Enriched environment (ie: pigs have balls to play with)
Step 3: Enhanced outdoor access
Step 4: Pasture-centred. 100% grass fed from birth
Step 5: Animal-centred. Entire life of the animal is spent on one farm (not available in Toronto)
- WF's partnered with the Blue Ocean Institute (BOI) to independently audit the fisheries which supply their stores and the Marine Steward Council (MSC) only using fisheries that are committed to sustainable fishing practices.
- Whole Foods Market® is ranked #1 in Greenpeace’s 2013 Seafood Sustainability Scorecard as the retail leader with the most rigorous sustainable seafood policies in the industry.
- They also have a sustainability ratings program for wild-caught seafood, through their partnership with Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium. I can use their color-coded ratings to make informed decisions about my seafood purchases. I find this really sways my buying choices.