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Grocery Stores

Healthy Planet (Danforth)

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on August 2, 2012

healthy planet danforth torontoHealthy Planet on Danforth is the company's first storefront foray into Toronto's central core. But the new address isn't the only novel thing this company is introducing with its Danforth and Carlaw debut. This store — unlike the Healthy Planet shops in Scarborough, North York, Pickering, Markham, Mississauga, and Etobicoke — features a new espresso and organic juice bar, as well as a full canteen offering veggie, vegan and raw eats.

healthy planet danforth torontoWhile the shelves are stocked with everything from eco-friendly beauty supplies to protein powders and organic snacks (usual fare for a health food store), there's also a hot table. "We'll have fresh salads, soups, stews, sandwiches; everything, really," says Heidi Horowitz, certified nutritionist and manager of Healthy Planet's canteen and juice bar. "And we're planning on a two-day rotation."

healthy planet torontoHeidi takes me through the prep area, introducing me to some of the veteran vegetarian chefs on the new Healthy Planet team. "Try this," says one, offering me a spoon of vegan herb aioli. "We're going to use it for our wraps, but it would also be great as a dip for veggies." It's delicious.

healthy planet danforth torontoI take a few minutes to explore Healthy Planet's grocery section — which includes mostly dry, packaged, and frozen goods — before returning to the 20-person seating area to get the rest of the lowdown from Heidi.

healthy planet danforth toronto"We've been planning on this for some time," she says, noting that she operated a private practice at another Healthy Planet location for a number of years. "The concept for the prepared food is to be as organic as possible and seasonal, while still being sort of gourmet."

"We're also focused on food that's easy to digest," she continues. "So we use sprouted tofu, and we soak our nuts."

healthy planet danforthAs for the juice and coffee bar, the menu is fully stocked with espresso options (made with Canterbury Verita fair trade organic espresso), organic teas (of which I sample a cool and refreshing unsweetened iced tea), smoothies, shakes, fresh juices and more. And with plenty of gluten-free eats to go alongside. Heidi points out some of the already-popular options, which include the calcium-rich "Pink Smoothie" made with bananas, strawberries, sprouts, lemon, acai powder, dates, tahini, honey, and vanilla yogurt ($7.60). That's just one of many options, plus the choice to create your own.

healthy planet danforthIndeed, the entire concept is quite appealing, though it does strike me as somewhat familiar. So I ask Heidi what will distinguish this spot from, say, the Big Carrot just down the road.

"Ingenuity," she replies, without missing a beat. "We have some amazing chefs on our team, and we'll be constantly working to create great, delicious, healthy new things. We're planning on raw pies, bark made with power foods, breakfast wraps..."

healthy planet danforth torontoIt's a lot to digest (no pun intended), and I soon depart with an Americano ($1.85) (after, of course, deciding between skim, 2%, rice, soy, and almond milks), and promise to return once the prepared table is in full swing. And if I need any more incentive, Heidi says Healthy Planet has applied for a 20-seat front patio, and is hoping for approval within the next month. In the meantime, the shop — juice, veggie wraps, espresso, organic cereals and all — will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the week, with slightly shorter hours on the weekends.

healthy planet danforth torontoPhotos by Jesse Milns

Discussion

29 Comments

Fruits! / August 2, 2012 at 10:13 am
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I stopped in here last week and was a little put off. The store seemed like it wanted to give the image that its focus was on healthy food when really its business model seems to rely on selling diet pills and questionable supplements for the majority of its revenue. I'd say 60-70% of the retail space is reserved for pills in one form or another, but of course it is at the back of the store away from discerning eyes. That being said, the sandwiches at the "deli bar" were reasonably priced and looked delicious.
Salty / August 2, 2012 at 10:31 am
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I'm so happy to have a juice bar closer to my place! Looks great, can't wait to taste those dishes.
Pk / August 2, 2012 at 10:42 am
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It drives me crazy to see 'healthy' and 'enviro-' bandied about by locations that use giant flatscreen televisions as menu boards. Those things suck a ton of electricity. So pointless, especially for static information like menus.
Fredly / August 2, 2012 at 11:44 am
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you can get yer vitamins and supplements at the bulk place at pape, or at the Carrot, or those wholistic pharmacies at jackman. This place is just for body builders and diet freaks - and it's a chain. it's also an energy sucker, as others point out. Yech. bad karma. and they took out another greek restaurant to bring in this junk place -- danforth folding fast, soon it will be all chains....
Xebe / August 2, 2012 at 01:31 pm
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I went in last weekend and I also agree with other posts that it seems to be a diet/protein powder store in disguise as something better. I saw a number of products in their beauty section that I know The Big Carrot no longer stocks because of harmful ingredients. Also the expert advice I have received at the Big Carrot dispensary is something I have relied on over the last four years living in the neighborhood so I am not sure how this place will compare.
P / August 2, 2012 at 01:47 pm
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It's about time The Big Carrot had some competition.
CS replying to a comment from Pk / August 2, 2012 at 03:32 pm
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so your preference is for them to reprint their menus on new signage every time they change something up? I can't imagine the ink/paper/machinery and all other materials used in doing that would be any better for our 'enviro'(likely worse in fact). you want to critic the place, go ahead. but at least pick worthwhile 'issues' to complain about
Pk replying to a comment from CS / August 2, 2012 at 03:53 pm
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Chalkboard.

#win
local replying to a comment from CS / August 2, 2012 at 04:22 pm
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#shrill
Cindy / August 2, 2012 at 05:45 pm
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Let's not forget that the Big Carrot is run on a worker-owner cooperative model, specialises in non-GMO foods and offers free information nights to the public. I'm all for diversity in the market, but the biggest plus for me in supporting the BC is the 3 aforementioned things.
me / August 2, 2012 at 06:53 pm
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Those flatscreen TVs as menu boards create a very unpleasant visual aesthetic regardless of environmental consequences. With a minimum of 6 in the store, including a wall of at least 5, they seriously detract from the interior design, and look plain ugly.
JR / August 3, 2012 at 12:52 am
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You know when it's not that weird that a store has a lot of vitamins? When it's a vitamin store. If they want to augment the concept with ancillary uses, that's their call. I think the comparison to the Big Carrot may be a bit of a misnomer created to have a spin for the article.
frankotanko / August 5, 2012 at 10:39 am
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Yeah I stopped In a while ago and was put off by all the junk pills they sell
Don't think this place will last anyone who wants decent produce will go to the carrot. Eat fresh food and you don't need the pills its simple really.
Mark / August 7, 2012 at 03:07 pm
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WAY better prices than the Carrot!

The crazy diet/weight gain pills are in one section in the back--I'm vegan and asked for B12 Advanced Series, etc.--bam they have it at $4 less than the Carrot. Giovanni/Jason hair care--again less than the Carrot--in fact only $1 more than in Kensington, we noticed.

Gallons of Dr. Bronner's soap, usually around $50 @ the Carrot? It's $2X something here--and that's 6 months of laundry, and, dish soap.

And remember eating vegan = much more environmentally friendly than any TV selection. It's just great having such a well-stocked place nearby. :-)
Jeremy / August 8, 2012 at 08:41 pm
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The comments here are just too good!!

It's not the Big Carrot! If you've been to another Healthy Planet, you'd know that this place is traditionally a bulk food, vitamin shop. This one happens to be trying their hand at juicing and snacks apparently but that's just an added benefit or at the very least, a feature.

Is some of the stuff they sell junk? Of course! Do your homework before you go so you don't fall victim and carry on. For the most part, their basic vitamins and minerals and protein powders are much cheaper than you'll find in other 'health food' stores.

And the tvs, ugly or otherwise? Really, there are better things in life to get upset about. It just blows my mind what people will complain about.

I can't wait to try this place rather than heading to Parkway Mall to get my Dr. Bronner's and Apple Cider Vinegar AND I'll still head down the street to the carrot after as well...
Jazz / August 8, 2012 at 09:23 pm
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I love this place. Its healthy, the food is made with creativity and care and it modern. As far as the TV's go, not the best choice. You cant win 'em all I guess, but they sure are off to a great start!

There's enough room for the BC to exist ALONGSIDE Healthy Planet. The thing is Torontonians have a serious belief in scarcity. Believe it or not there's room for two large health oriented stores on the same "block." Also Healthy Planet seems to be a lot more economical for the people who have less money to play with (by people I mean myself), are interested in educating people about the benefits of their products and overall offer great service (which the BC often fails at with stoners and moodiness). I've learned a lot from HP each time I have visited - in the short time they've been open. A win for the Danforth!
Sophie / September 16, 2012 at 09:52 pm
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I smell the stench of "Carrot" on many of these posts. LOL!

I've lived on the Danforth for over 7 years & have shopped at the Carrot ever since. I'm glad of the Healthy competition that's finally arrived as are many of my neighbors and friends.

With the Planets prices,it's long over due the Carrot got some real competition.
Nadia / October 11, 2012 at 12:28 am
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WOW what a great store. Love their juices and the food. Im going their when ever i go into the area. People are friendly and very well educated. Their supplement selection is really nice and big. I have never seen that many protein
salman / October 13, 2012 at 02:55 pm
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probably the best Healthy Organic store in the whole of GTA. what a CHAIN..
yo yo / October 31, 2012 at 12:06 am
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yeah, the staff are very well educated. they have a great selection of items. but they aren't that busy, which surprises me. not nearly as busy as the carrot.
John / January 5, 2013 at 05:55 pm
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I don't know what you guys are talking about. Healthy Planet is a great store, they have the best prices. I shop at the Markham store and it's amazing!
James / January 10, 2013 at 11:22 pm
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I used to goto gnc and popeyes, but when I found this place ive never gone back. The selection isnt huge because its a health food store first, but I know they carry: Allmax, Dymatize, optimum nutrition (ON) products for sure. The pricing id say on average you'll save at least $10-15 on ANY product compared to GNC (even with the gold card). They aren't as knowledgeable of staff but if you know what your looking for and dont need info its a great place. Prolly the best place to get supplements for cheap in Toronto.
Sally / January 14, 2013 at 11:29 am
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I agree about the pricing, so much cheaper than the Big Carrot. I also got great advice and a lot of help for my many questions.
The added bonus? not having to deal with the staff at the big Carrot who sometimes have an air of superiority about them, and give you the "you are not worthy" once over before maybe helping you.
Competition is good.
O.kay / January 20, 2013 at 12:30 pm
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This store is nice but its model is indeed a mass-market shop that sells everything under the sun in relation to "health". For workout supplements they have a great selection and great prices but for other items I get torn because they price things well here and are obviously undercutting their competition but for me I enjoy going to Strictly Bulk or something and having a more personal relationship to the store. Those little things the smaller shops do is worth the price but what I have notices now is that my favorite smaller stores are having to raise the price on things not sure if this is due to tax/inflation or because of greater competition down the street.
meowia / March 5, 2013 at 08:43 pm
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Big carrot sux also their price is over priced i like healthy planet!!!!!!!!!is reasbably priced
Leslie / May 8, 2013 at 07:47 am
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The store looks nice & the prepared food is lovely. But the smoothie I ordered was substandard - half the drink was filled with water! It tasted like water with spinach!!! I was so disappointed after paying over $7!! Nature's Emporium in Newmarket makes much better smoothies - with juices from fresh veggies - not watered down sludge!
The flat screen menu was not working when I was there. The woman who runs the place on the Danforth was rude & condescending to customers & staff!! I returned to the store twice but will not return to this store based on these experiences.
Naturefoodie / March 11, 2014 at 03:26 pm
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Walked in hoping to find Forbes Birch syrup, and while they didn't have any, I really love to see a health food shop that sells real foods and not just pills.

Prices are reasonable and staff are okay, they don't seem really into it and their knowledge is limited. Would be really nice to see some local (Toronto) brands get representation here.
Naturefoodie / March 11, 2014 at 03:27 pm
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Forgot to add, I got cider vinegar cheaper then anywhere else on the danforth. So there is that
Anthony / March 28, 2014 at 04:51 pm
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arright Healthy Planet has a bunch of health stuff that the Carrot doesn't and CHEAPER. I mean it! Now, the Carrot has a buncha stuff that Planet doesn't, and that's cool- I personally shop at about 5 different health stores, with some of my faves listed on my website, but ya for vitamins, minerals, herbs, and aminos, these guys are rockin' on the low prices. And being a nutritionist, I dig that : )

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