Toronto office buildings set to get local food markets
The Toronto Office Markets are a recent project by Alimentary Initiatives designed to bring locally grown food to the lobbies of office buildings. Artisan market in style, different vendors will sell their goods to the employees and guests of the office. Offering a range of freshly baked breads, cheeses, produce, and ready-to-eat items like samosas and raw pizza, the concept offers food for now and later.
In other words, you can grab something for lunch as well as some bread, soup, veggies and cheese for dinner tonight. "We don't want people to be 'food sleuths,'" Aruna Handa, the head of Alimentary Initiatives tells me, "we want to bring food to where people already go. We're trying to make local, organic food convenient."
Currently, the project is still in its pilot stage at the Center for Social Innovation's Spadina and Bathurst locations, but on March 8th, the farm fresh markets will make their first office lobby debut at ING Direct — in the heart of the financial district. Handa sees the project as "win-win-win" and it's hard not to agree with her: since AI does not charge for the service, offices get the market with no financial investment, the employees gain convenient access to local food, and the vendors have to opportunity to increase their sales and profile.
The group is serious about reducing the "triple bottom line" (environmental, social and economic costs) that large chains like Loblaw's ignore by using single providers, thereby cutting out local growers. And while Toronto-grown garlic, for example, might be priced higher than garlic from overseas, most of us are now aware that the difference is usually paid with the cost of emissions.
Handa believes that through initiatives like the Toronto Office Markets, the local food economy can be transformed into a more sustainable model in which residents have easier access to fresh food from nearby farmers and proprietors. While that plan is rather ambitious in its goals, the drive to bring these products directly to consumers is surely a good start.
Photos taken at the Centre for Social Innovation's Bathurst location