The Big Carrot (348 Danforth, at Jackman, 416-466-2129) is by far the largest organic grocer in town, so substantial it even has its own common. Inside, you'll find an extensive line of organic greens from Pro Organics as well as prepared dinners from Vegetarian Kitchen, whole roasted chickens to go and an extensive selection of organic dishes from their on-site take-away. Like the Carrot, Noah's Natural Foods (322 Bloor West, at Spadina, 416-968-7930, and others) also has a small in-store café that features a daily buffet with the organic likes of millet stew and baked tofu with brown rice as well as a completely organic salad bar. Also look out for a comprehensive selection of fresh organic greens alongside organic - and vegan! - Cool Hemp ice cream, organic baked goods and both organic and free-range eggs.
Open since June and located on the premises of now defunct Eternal Abundance, Organics on Bloor (468 Bloor West, at Brunswick, 416-538-1333) stocks a broader range of natural food than its predecessor, good stuff like Hallelujah's organic beef and chicken, Fred's Breads' organic baguette and Alchemy Bakery's awesome cornmeal 'n' jalapeño loaves in addition to a full line of organic dairy products. Although the first time's free - aren't they all? - you're required to become a member of long-running Karma Co-op (in the laneway behind 739 Palmerston, at Barton, 416-534-1470) if you want to shop there more than once. The compact store features a large selection of organic bulk foods (spices, grains, even popcorn), organic meats and bread from ShaSha, Little Stream and Grain Harvest Bakeries.
Opened in 1974, Baldwin Natural Foods (16 Baldwin, at McCaul, 416-979-1777) was Toronto's first health food store carrying organics. Now in immaculate new digs two doors east, the counterculture cantina is re-launching its online natural food market (www. puregrocer.com) in early November. Check out the small but inexpensively priced organic produce available at Fiesta Farms (200 Christie, at Essex, 416-537-1235) for cheap greens, fortified organic soy drinks and four-litre bags of Harmony organic milk.
Even though the LCBO stocks organic sake and Mill Street beer on a regular basis, organic wines - especially those produced by small independent vintners - are usually available on a very limited basis. That's what happens when you don't use preservatives. Once the vintage is gone, it's gone. But plucky oenophiles can guarantee a steady supply of organic tipples by doing it themselves. The only certified organic grape grower in Ontario, Feast of Fields (no relation to the foodie fest of the same name) supplies organic concentrate to home brewers at both the Dufferin and Riverdale farmers markets as well as online (www.feast-of-fields.ca). Fermentations (276 Danforth, at Hampton, 416-778-9000, and others) carries cider fixings and certified organic grapes from California. Those who want to be 100 per cent certain about what goes into their homemade Strongbow can visit Avalon Orchards in Innisfil (866-458-9902) and pick their own organic apples only minutes from downtown.
Anyone who's tried an organic burger back-to-back with a preservative-loaded version will notice right away how much better the real thing tastes. Uptown meat counter The Butchers (2636 Yonge, at Craighurst, 416-483-5777) not only carry certified organic ground beef from Hallelujah Farms, but ground chicken as well. They sell beef from Beretta Organics and Diamond Willow and take orders for holiday organic turkeys. Open by the end of this month, the Healthy Butcher (565 Queen West, at Denison, 416-674-2642) will stock organic chickens from Fenwood Farms, beef from Field Gate Organics and Sha Sha's organic loaves.