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Grocery Stores

Nuthouse

Posted by Staff / Posted on January 9, 2011

Nuthouse TorontoThe Nuthouse stands out among the restaurants and discount stores in Blansdowne - just look for the giant walnut jutting out from the storefront. "It's iconic," co-owner Liza Lukashevsky says. The Nuthouse has been in business only a month and already the giant walnut has been generating buzz.

Nuthouse TorontoLiza and her husband and Nuthouse co-owner Alex live just down the street, and they've found it difficult shopping within the neighbourhood for healthy food for their children (now aged six and eight). So she and Alex decided to open up their own health food store.

Nuthouse TorontoLiza's parents owned Whole Earth Natural Foods (McCaul St), one of the first health food stores in Toronto so, Liza says, showing me a framed photo of Whole Earth, running a health food store is in her blood. So far, The Nuthouse has been doing well. "Families are starting to take over," Liza notes of the generally "tough neighbourhood," and people are becoming more interested in healthy eating, particularly in vegan and sugar-free options and raw and organic food.

Nuthouse TorontoThe Nuthouse sells much more than nuts, and mostly in bulk, which makes it cheaper than the packaged products at other health food stores. The store sells Dark City coffee beans, which is the brand served at The Common. Types of beans include espresso ($13.99/lb) and fair trade organic cherry bomb ($14.99/lb).

Nuthouse TorontoThe store's organic candy is very popular, especially with parents who want to give their children healthy treats. The candy display contains racks of giant glass tubes based on an Argentinean design reminiscent of stoppered test tubes or rockets poised to launch. Candy offerings include chocolate espresso beans ($6.99/lb), organic gummi bears ($6.99/lb), fruit juice slices sweetened with fruit juice and coloured with vegetables like beets ($4.99/lb) and sugar-free carob balls ($2.10). The Nuthouse also sells organic dried fruits, including strawberries ($20.99/lb), which are very hard to find, peaches, pears ($5-7/lb) mangoes and cranberries ($9.99/lb).

Nuthouse TorontoAs the name suggests, The Nuthouse also sells nuts, lots of them. These nuts are fresh and sourced from California, and sold either raw or dry roasted in a small family facility in Toronto. Nuts sold at the shop include organic varieties, and wheat- and gluten-free options. A popular item is the gluten-free Tamari almonds ($7.89/lb), which are hard to find. Liza says she's noticed that lots of people have problems with gluten, especially diabetics, since it's been discovered that gluten increases blood sugar. "People are getting sick," Liza says. "They're now finding ways of helping themselves with food."

Nuthouse TorontoThe Nuthouse also sells apricot kernels, also known as bitter almonds ($9.99/lb), which contain the vitamin B-17 and so are considered by some as a natural form of chemotherapy. A notice on the glass case warns to take only up to 3-4 bitter almonds a day, as an overdose can lead to cyanide poisoning.

Nuthouse TorontoNuts generally cost between $5 - $11/lb, and include varieties like macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts and walnuts. The store's trail mixes are also very popular, and are named after streets in Toronto, like the Brock N Roll mix, the Bloor St mix and the Margueretta mix (each at $6.49/lb). They also sell a variety of baking and cooking products like ground hazelnut and pecan (a gluten-free flour substitute), flour (Teff flour at $1.99/lb) and grains like lentils (du Puy lentils at $6.99/lb) and organic spelt kernels ($1.79/lb). While most health food stores sell these in boxes, The Nuthouse sells them in bulk from a glass case, which keeps them fresher.

Nuthouse TorontoThe store also sells individually packaged items, like Kombucha drinks, honeycombs ($6.75) and jars of honey from New Zealand (Airborne floral honey, $9.89) and France (Miel d'Acacia, $13.99). They also sell vegan products like Daiya cheese ($4.59) and gluten-free and nut-free cakes, breads and crackers (e.g. Sweets of the Earth spiced carrot cake, $11.99).

Nuthouse TorontoThe Nuthouse is also very much involved in giving back to the community. Every time a customer requests a plastic bag, the five cent fee goes directly to the Environmental Alliance. Liza also mentions her plan to have FoodShare boxes at the store. FoodShare is a non-profit organization that provides low-cost healthy food to the community, and soon, Liza says, the Nuthouse will be stocking FoodShare boxes containing fresh Ontario vegetables.

Nuthouse TorontoWriting by Jaclyn Eunice Qua Hiansen. Photos by Dennis Marciniak

Discussion

35 Comments

Josh / January 9, 2011 at 10:11 am
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"While most health food stores sell these in boxes, The Nuthouse sells them in bulk from a glass case, which keeps them fresher."

Sorry - what?
jlt / January 9, 2011 at 10:40 am
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this is an amazing addition to the neighbourhood. glad to hear its busy!
Sir Crapsalot / January 9, 2011 at 10:56 am
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that's just nuts!
n / January 9, 2011 at 10:59 am
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no thanks - i dont want to eat from bins that so many people have touched before. i dont understand the allure of bulk - it is not cheaper, it is not fresher and it may have been contaminated.
Jeff / January 9, 2011 at 11:08 am
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Great addition to the neighborhood!!! We need this!
olivia / January 9, 2011 at 11:44 am
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this place has been a long time coming. it's fantastic for bloordale. (and down with the haters)
Antony / January 9, 2011 at 11:59 am
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So is "Strictly Bulk" @ Bloor & Ossington really that far away?

More the better, I guess!
jmv / January 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm
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I used to go to high school in the Lansdowne & Bloor area back in the late 1980s and the place was overrun by pimps and prostitutes and drug dealers. I also returned to the hood in 2002 as a renter for about a year or so, and wasn't surprised to see that not much had changed from 1988 to 2002. I haven't been back to this neck of the woods since.

From this article, and others I've read about the Lansdowne/Bloor neighbourhood, I can see that ever-so-slowly the place is cleaning up but not being gentrified, which is a good thing, in my opinion.

My question is: can the residents of this neighbourhood, which I recall to be predominately working class, blue-collar workers and a hodge-podge of immigrants, really care to spend their money on honey priced at $9.89 and $13.99, dried strawberries at $20.99/lb and carrot cake for $11.99?
butts / January 9, 2011 at 02:07 pm
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Isn't the point of a bulk food store supposed to be that buying in bulk is supposed to be CHEAPER than other regular stores and supermarkets?

I'll stick to the Bulk Stop in Bridlewood Mall.
max / January 9, 2011 at 02:19 pm
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We just moved to Dupont & Landsdowne a few months back. It was a shock from being south of Bloor with everything within a 10-30 minute walk from home and transit an easy ride that dropped us off in front of our building.
I can't always get to Kensington on my way home anymore so even if it is a little pricey it's worth it to have something of the sort near by. And Strickly Bulk wasn't all I dreamed it to be when I first checked it out. (The lovely cashier was clearly a family member who had 3 boys sitting at the front talking to her and I don't think anyone said anything to me the whole time I shopped... plus, I found the selection of bulk lacking.)
As far as health & safety goes, I think you need to have a little faith that the operators are keeping it clean. And I prefer to have less packaging at the end of my trip than heading to a regular grocer.
In short, yes, the neighborhood needs it and I will be checking it out soon!
JS / January 9, 2011 at 03:14 pm
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I've lived in Bloordale for the past 5 years and I am super stoked about the Nuthouse. Finally a place to buy wholesome and natural products! Everytime I go in they are busy which is nice to see. A very good addition to the strip.
Aldrin / January 9, 2011 at 04:01 pm
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I visited Nuthouse this week and it's very neat, clean and it smells really good inside. The people that work there seem very nice. They have a good selection of bulk products at a decent price and I like that it's at Bloordale. I would love to see them expand on their cereals.
hyedie / January 9, 2011 at 04:47 pm
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YAAAAY!!! finally a bulk food store that is close to where i live :)

anyone know of a good place i can pick up some muslin bags?
Janet / January 9, 2011 at 06:43 pm
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What a beautiful, sparkling clean and deliciously enticing store to buy foods that are good for me and my family! I have tried out many of their delicacies and treats and can't wait to return. It is a pleasure to shop in the environment they have created. Well done and welcome to the neighbourhood!
Pippa / January 9, 2011 at 06:57 pm
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Totally loving the Nuthouse, besides it being fun for my kids to look for the Big Nut on Bloor, the allure of health foods for me and a few sweets thrown in for the kids, it's all on one!!!
As far as the unallure of some for bulk, it's not always about the price, but the desire to not buy overpackaged foods that have a far higher footprint to get to us!!
There are definitely less kms travelled for these fresh goods!!!
Thanks for this great new addition to the Westend!!!
Pippa. Jon Otis and Adelaide
Adam / January 9, 2011 at 07:56 pm
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"Families are starting to take over"?
Families have always lived in the neighbourhood, they just weren't as pasty and well-off as your family.
chris / January 9, 2011 at 09:09 pm
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My question is: can the residents of this neighbourhood, which I recall to be predominately working class, blue-collar workers and a hodge-podge of immigrants, really care to spend their money on honey priced at $9.89 and $13.99, dried strawberries at $20.99/lb and carrot cake for $11.99?

exactly.
alex l / January 9, 2011 at 09:55 pm
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Thanks to blogto for this nice bit of exposure for our new store, and thanks for all the happy well wishers in the comments section. i just want to point out that we have more than 1000 items in stock and that the products hightlighted in the post are the more "exotic" and "sensational" ones. these are only a margin of what we carry. specifically we have staples like grains, rice, pasta and flour for very low prices. spices galore. many gluten-free and wheat-free alternatives. an awesome local unpasteurized honey for $3 a container. we just wanted to make a pretty, warm spot for everybody in our hood, which we love and have been living in for quite awhile.

...... hope to see ya ......all the best ......alex and liza (the pasties)
Baxter / January 10, 2011 at 12:12 am
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Congrats Alex and Liza.
Can't wait to stop in.
It Looks fantastic.
Alicia / January 10, 2011 at 10:14 am
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Congratulation!!!! It looks terrific!!

Warmly,
Alicia and Andy
patricia / January 10, 2011 at 05:06 pm
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I'm so proud of Alex and Liza for opening up this beautiful store. It's true, Liza spent her baby years perched on the counter of Whole Earth Natural Foods on McCaul St. As a matter of fact, the ground nut candies that she grew up on have now been reprised at The Nut House for the first time since 1979!! When I saw the store, I just knew I wanted to be part of it in some small way.

When Whole Earth first opened, there was very little interest and information about whole foods We had a solid base of customers in the McCaul/Dundas area, consisting of hippies, marxists, art students and lunatic fringe:) but our store was considered radical by the public at large. Over the years, nurses and docors started drifting in...and more and more Moms and Dads, looking for new ways to eat. Of course, Toronto is a more sophisticated place now and Liza and Alex have covered all the bases...They have combined solid wholesome products like lentils, rice, and whole grains etc with many of the new power foods that I'm interested in...things like chia seeds, ground flax, and apricot kernals..They also offer products that weren't available to the Whole Earth Commune. I like the fact that they have combined the old with the new...I like the way they are always seeking out new products that are interesting and healthy yet sticking to the basics at good prices.

I also like all the thought that went into the woodwork and the general feel of the store. Some of the stuff in there is from old factories and most of shelving and counters are built by hand. This makes shopping a pleasure . Whole Earth Foods on McCaul was the same in that way. Michael Ormsby and Jonathan Borah made everything in the store by hand from old wood replaned and recycled from Tepperman Wrecking Company. This was a new concept for TO in 1971. We even built our own wooden fridge, although it didn't work that well. It was beautiful though...with hand carved ornament on it. Alex and Liza have used an amazing amount of creativity and devotion toward every detail in their store too. That giant nut is awesome. I like the door too...How old IS that??? This Mom is proud!!
Chip / January 10, 2011 at 08:29 pm
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Nice. The only bulk food store I shop at is the one in the bowels of SLM.
Paprika Jim / January 13, 2011 at 12:32 am
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Staff = Total Babes
Paul / January 18, 2011 at 12:50 pm
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AMAZING place. I had been looking for a bulk nuts-and-seeds store, and this one far exceeds my expectations. Great selection, friendly staff, very reasonable prices, and much more than just nuts and seeds! Best new retail addition to Toronto since, oh, I don't know when.
BloorGirl / January 22, 2011 at 01:31 pm
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I love the Nuthouse because I am a nut!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!LOLO
what is with the haters?

The prices say by the pound....you do not need to buy the whole pound...I actually found this place much cheaper, cleaner, and closer than kensington market or even Ossington and Bloor ones.

I love it!
Baker / January 22, 2011 at 02:52 pm
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This part of the city scares the bejesus out of me. When I drive along Bloor from Dufferin to Dundas West, I make sure my car doors are locked.
Laura / March 5, 2011 at 08:15 pm
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I really appreciate having The Nuthouse in the neighbourhood now. I literally live two streets over, so its nice that its so close.

My number one reason for loving it so much is because of all the amazing gluten-free products. I use to have to make special trips to get the gluten-free flours that I needed, and now its just steps away from my house. And I have to tell you, gluten-free stuff is NOT cheap, and the prices at Nuthouse are some of the better ones that I've seen around the city.
Tash replying to a comment from jmv / May 5, 2011 at 07:54 pm
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I'm not sure where you got the impression that Bloordale wasn't being gentrified. Gentrification's at full swing around here which is precisely why its cleaning up and businesses such as the nuthouse are able to set up shop and offer a selection of organic foods at such cost. You should come by and visit. I assure you Blansdowne is not what you remember.
Tash replying to a comment from jmv / May 5, 2011 at 08:00 pm
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I'm not sure where you got the impression that the neighborhood wasn't being gentrified. Gentrification is in full swing around which is precisely why so many businesses are able to set up shop and charge what they do and still stay in business. Housing prices have boomed and things have come a long way from where they were a couple of years ago. You should come by and visit I assure you things are not as you remember them around here :)
Jan replying to a comment from n / February 21, 2012 at 12:50 pm
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Firstly, a store that specializes in nuts is probably going to take the time to source higher quality nuts, i.e. that taste better. If you can't distinguish between a good walnut and a bad walnut, this place will be lost on you. Don't compare prices unless you're comparing quality as well.

Secondly, buying bulk is handy for two reasons: principally, you get only how much you need and no more. Let's say I want 3 lbs of nuts or merely a handful to munch on - I'm covered. And as a bonus, there's much less packaging involved in the process, which means the environment wins. You're also less likely to be ingesting trace amounts of horrible industrial chemicals that will be found on plastic packages.

As to the contamination issue, I'm not even slightly worried. Between the risks I take with the baskets, ttc vehicles, shopping carts, entrances, cash, and all the other things-I-touch-every-day-and-don't-think-twice-about-that-don't-get-me-sick-and-in-fact-strengthen-my-immune-system, I'm not sweating the nuts, you know?
Roland Michaud / June 23, 2012 at 02:39 pm
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Do you have a store in Vancouver?
Liza replying to a comment from Roland Michaud / August 7, 2012 at 09:14 am
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no, we don't have a store in vancouver, sorry
catherine / August 12, 2012 at 01:50 pm
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I went yesterday for the first time, despite the fact I live a block away... Found everything I needed (great product selection), and loved the atmosphere. No comparison to Bulk Barn. The staff were so helpful and friendly. Looking forward to visiting again.
Pippa Leavy / March 4, 2013 at 06:25 pm
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S happy with my new Sprouter and seeds from Nuthouse...I did my first rinse Friday and am enjoying my sprouts already....just exploring the new world of sprouting..Gng to try Quinoa right now!!
charlie / November 11, 2013 at 08:16 pm
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the nuthouse is the best bulk food store ever
down with the haters
whats up

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