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Eat & Drink

Toronto gets new online grocery store

Posted by Derek Flack / September 26, 2012

Online Grocery RealFood TorontoToronto has itself a brand new online grocery store today, as RealFoodToronto.com announced that its open for business. The site comes courtesy of the folks at the Healthy Butcher who've partnered with Hooked, local farms, Niagara Speciality Foods, and wine merchants like Le Sommelier and The Living Vine to offer a wide array of food and drink that puts sustainability at the forefront.

That's the big selling point, of course, but after navigating the site a bit this afternoon, I'll say an added bonus is the photos of the products, which help to diminish the removed feeling that's easy to get when shopping for food online. Steak cuts, for instance, come with a handy chart that ranks their flavour, tenderness, fat and relative value. The description of each product is also informative and, on the whole, compelling enough to warrant skimming.

As is the case with the Healthy Butcher, the prices seem on the high side, but that makes sense given the overall directive of the site. What do you think? Would you buy groceries here?



Ooo, this is fun! / September 26, 2012 at 08:09 pm
Victorinox Boning / Flank Knife (8" Stiff Fibrox)

Amazon.com - Free delivery
Really? / September 26, 2012 at 11:37 pm
1 CHICKEN BREAST FOR $13.00!!! and that was the cheapest...
I give this site 3 months and they will fold.

Im all for organic and fresh but these prices are just stuuuupiddd.
Good luck, because they are for sure going to need it.
krs / September 27, 2012 at 08:54 am
8$ can of tuna?!?! I better stock up at this price. Who can afford this stuff?
Tim / September 27, 2012 at 09:57 am
Very much liek the Healthy Butcher, this site is full of itself and that will lead to it not surviving. Yes, you procure good meat, but the prices of it are fucking ridiculous! You're not Pusateri's and that model is dated anyway.

It's too bad too, they're doing these farmers a disservice.
Jono / September 27, 2012 at 01:03 pm
I used to be a "conventional" big-box grocery shopper. Didn't ever know about good food, how it should taste, etc. My g/f and I stopped into the Healthy Butcher 4 yrs. ago, and haven't looked back.

There is TOTALLY a difference between what these guys are selling and what you settle for at Zehrs/Loblows. NO COMPARISON.

For people that know what good food is, this just makes it that much easier to get. Kudos guys!
Mario / September 27, 2012 at 01:32 pm
Hi Everyone, this is Mario from RealFoodToronto.com.

First-off, thank you to everyone for sending us tons of positive feedback by email and via the twitterverse. We are excited and touched by the many folks who have taken the time to reach out; it’s your support that keeps us going. To the folks expressing negativity toward what we are trying to accomplish, what can I say? We are trying our best to bring good food to the table, and good food isn’t cheap. To clarify, the prices on the site represent maximum prices, order totals are adjusted downwards based on the exact weight (customers NEVER pay more than its actual weighed price); this was the only way we could think of moving a predominantly “weighed” product business to an online environment. Our prices are comparable to - and more often less than - big box stores attempting to sell comparable Certified Organic products; and they aren’t supporting the small local farms that we are. We know and trust our farmers; we’ve visited their farms and we pay them fairly for their goods. As a result, we get excellent quality sustainably grown and ethical products raised/grown without risky shortcuts. Can the competition say the same?

Margins in the grocery business are practically non-existent, and our margins are like every other store. The cost of goods sold on the foods we sell is double, sometimes triple and quadruple compared to mass-produced garbage foods. We have made the choice to carry quality goods so the retail prices are going to reflect this cost. If anyone out there thinks that this business is “rolling in dough”, you are sadly mistaken. For customers out there looking for real food; if you find a better price on the same product elsewhere we are more than willing to adjust our price, if we can. It simply takes an email or phone call, and things can be handled in a more personal way. Simply making broad unfounded insults and spreading negativity doesn’t contribute to the important conversation about the food we eat. Does the main topic of discussion when it comes to buying food have to be price? Certainly quality has to come into play at a high level. Nobody expects the same level of quality from a $15,000 car than to a $50,000+ car; the same holds true for the food that sustains us.

We are a small family business, working our a#*es off. We have poured our heart and soul into developing RealFoodToronto.com and I know there will be many, many people who appreciate what we’ve done, simply because they’ve been asking us to do it for years. We are always trying to improve and welcome a respectful discussion of the food we source.

TheAdderBlack / September 27, 2012 at 01:58 pm
There was a time when I scoffed at the higher prices of organic or naturally raised produce and meats (hell, I used to tease the you know what outta my brother for being an organic evangelist). Then, one day while bored, I fired up Netflix and happened upon a little documentary called "Food Inc.".

Changed my mind a little to say the least. For anyone on the fence, watch this movie and start enjoying real food. For those who just don't give a shit, you go ahead and enjoy the IBS. I mean, this is food people. You don't bitch this much about paying $5 for your latte or $3 per litre for your evian. Even more hilarious are people who bitch about the cost of good ingredients and then light up a smoke at $10 a pack.
DS replying to a comment from Mario / September 27, 2012 at 01:58 pm
This isn't "an important conversation about the food we eat." It's a conversation about your business.

"Does the main topic of discussion when it comes to buying food have to be price?"

Yes. The same is not true, however, for *choosing* food.
Real Food Eater / September 27, 2012 at 02:29 pm
Wow! Do some of you work for Monsanto? Do you even know Monsanto? Nevermind...

Anyways, ever since I've made the switch to organic food, I've noticed my health improve in so many ways. You get what you pay for. Go watch Food Inc., read Fast Food Nation, get informed, not edumacated!

It's all about priorities....would you rather blow $100 at the club or on the latest fashion jeans or put that extra money towards quality food? And if you think it's a waste of money, enjoy your cancer, alzheimers, diabetes, heart disease and more! More sustainable, healthy food for me and my family!
Bert / September 27, 2012 at 02:56 pm
Mario, Tara, and crew; you will always have negative feedback, regardless of how good a product or service may be. I have been in business for 28 years and in that time have had a number of comments about my high(er) [in some cases] prices, until those nay-sayers try my product/service.
Only quality has a future.
Keep up the good work.
Lily J replying to a comment from Really? / December 4, 2012 at 04:50 pm
Really! You, are forgetting the market for the wealthy and famous. There's got to be atleast 40 celebrities in the whole area of TO who'd be happy to spare their meal time shipp'd in, then prancing around the local isles of harrassment from fans and poprots! Just remember Really!.. your luxury of normality to walk in peace and pay a realistic price, while enjoying the weather is your reward. Don't be a hater for someone elses idea and banking on it. Even if you have doubts about someone elses journey. What kind of person have you let the world know, who YOU REALLY is. You couldn't be a realist because that kind of person, always follows up with a positive notion or kind word to inspire anyone who's attempted their dreams.

Please be kind with love in mind
Anon / April 1, 2013 at 05:36 pm
Hey Mario, The food market isn't your regular "hip hop/rap" culture community. You can't disregard feedback that make your idea look ridiculous/unreasonable as "haters" or "negativity". If you're going to put something out their, and only listen to the people that agree with your plan, you won't make it far. Regarding the comments above, it seems you're misinterpreting them. No one's saying your business is a cash cow. They just say it's a bad idea and it's a expensive.

As far as your website goes; YES, the product is pricey. BUT there is definitely demand for organic products, and the delivery services for celebs/elders etc but your online market just may be too small to survive. Specially in toronto. I just see it as a drain that'll suck all your savings and your investors savings. If you're lucky enough to get the highly unlikely buy out offer, i'd take it and run.
Mario Fiorucci / April 5, 2013 at 11:08 am
Anon, thank you for your comments. And believe me, we take every comment, suggestion and criticism very seriously. “Expensive” is a relative term. Does our product cost more than conventional products that don’t taste as good are produced from questionable sources, using questionable ingredients? Yes. Does our product cost more than premium products sold in premium stores that are not produced by the same high standards we hold? No.

But, point well taken. Since the beginning of this thread we have worked very hard to reduce pricing on key products. For example, we have added a “bulk pricing” module on a lot of staples like organic ground beef, whole chickens and many more to allow customers to buy high quality products at lower prices. We continue to look for sources of quality, organically produced products at lower prices. Our goal of providing a source of real food continues. I welcome your suggestions any time, whether it be in a public forum or directly.
Murray replying to a comment from Ooo, this is fun! / April 5, 2013 at 07:18 pm
The price you give is on Amazon.com. There is no free delivery to Canada, if any delivery (most kitchen items i have sought do not sell into Canada), and there is exchange difference, albeit modest right now.
Murray replying to a comment from Ooo, this is fun! / April 5, 2013 at 07:47 pm
I gladly pay more and eat less, knowing that I am getting a quality product. I know, for example, the beef does not contain ractopamine, which has caused the Russians to ban Canadian factory meat. (See http://www.albertafarmexpress.ca/news/russia-to-ban-most-canadian-mexican-meat-suppliers/1002205489/) I know the less than perfect looking tournedos are not assembled using meat glue, so that air exposed meat surface is in the middle, rare portion of my meat. I know the meat has not been tenderized with enzymes injected by needles into the interior, exposing the interior of the meat to bacteria. I know my grass fed meat is grass fed all the way, not a few weeks in the summer followed by grain finishing that increases omega 6 and dramatically decreases monounsaturated fat, omega 3, conjugated linoleic acid and fat soluble vitamin K2. Our family had stopped eating pork, until we tried the Tamworth and Berkshire HB stocks. We even visited the Martines' farm and saw them frolicking in fields, unlike the supermarket pork that grows up in a 10 foot square pen and never see the light of day. If you cannot discern the superior muscle texture and flavour, by all means, continue to by supermarket meat. You will also want to stay with the standard supermarket "cheese" that is constituted from "modified milk ingredients" or skim milk powder made from stale US milk from hormone fed cows. Yoghurts. More milk byproducts and "stabilizers" and "processing" not even disclosed on the label.

A major reason I like Healthy Butcher is that they screen the products and you know what you are getting.

I pay more for the eggs. When we got our dog I started feeding him eggs, yolks raw. he would almost attack his dish tomlap up the yolks. However, he is 90 pounds and itmwas costing amlot. So i got him supermarket omega 3 eggs in bulk. I set the dish down and he charged over, got to his dish, sniffed, and turned his head to stare at me.
Black Friday Deals / October 11, 2013 at 08:31 am
Doorstep delivery.. Real food..everything sounds good. Organic cold smoke salmon for $10, Steelhead Trout Fillet for $7.93.. Let me first try this and come back after a while..
maya / December 23, 2013 at 10:32 am
It is very simple....producing good and healthy food is expensive these days people have to remember that. If you cannot afford to buy organic products do not buy them then but if you are hesitant to buy because it is pricy but u can afford it, then you gotta ask yourself how much is your life worth to you?? All other garbage we buy that has steroids and other chemicals are cancerous and all i know is if someone is making an effort to provide us with all natural all fashioned food im all for it because to me my life is worth more than that petty dollar you are looking to save. If i die young from cancer or disease guess what i will not bring that dollar with me.
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