The Best Health Food Stores in Toronto
Health food stores have come a long way, baby. When I was young, and my well-intentioned hippie parents were raising us on a diet of fruit leathers and wild rice casseroles, I spent a great deal of time in health food stores. If I close my eyes, I can still see the giant unmarked tubs of natural peanut butter, and smell the slightly astringent smell of chewable vitamin C.
But right around the time Lisa Simpson admitted she was going to marry a carrot, things started getting better for healthy eaters. A lot better. Even these days, while big business is slapping 'natural' and 'organic' all over themselves, independent health food stores are increasingly mainstream, stylish, and plentiful, with fantastic options all over downtown Toronto.
Maybe it's because of the health food store's 'little guy' persona, but people get a bit fanatical and protective when it comes to their favourite health food supplier. Health food stores in Toronto are still largely independent, and there actually is very often a little guy (or girl, or family) behind them. Health food stores have personality. Finding the one that fits well with you turns casual shoppers into devotees and missionaries ("Where do you get your slivered almonds? Oh no no no.").
Fortunately, Torontonians have a lot of choice on where to go for our fresh local produce, natural cleaners, aluminum-free deodorant, animal-free soaps, and bulk lentils. So toss a few reusable shopping bags in your... other bag, and sample blogTO's top rated health food stores.
Photos of Essence of Life, Karma Co-Op, and Tutti Frutti courtesy of Patrick Smith. Carrot Common photo from pcrocks in the blogTO Flickr pool.
The Big Carrot Natural Food Market is holding strong on the Danforth. Possibly because they have arguably the most comprehensive selection in the city in every single aisle. (And there are many aisles.) Deli, dairy, produce, supplements, they have it all under one clean bright roof. More »
From the outside-in Essence of Life is a vintage health food store. Space is at a premium and aisles are piled high, which might explain how their prices are consistently low. The not-so-secret stop for many thrifty bulk buyers. More »
The Platform 9 and 3/4s of grocery stores, Karma has been tucked away and successfully operating in an Annex laneway for more than 30 years. Member owned, operated, and shopped, it has a fantastic selection of goods from small and local suppliers, as well as covering all the basics (and then some). More »
Like Essence of Life, another Kensington staple. And again, they thrive in the traditional Kensington way -- packed to the ceilings, and strong on bulk items and dry goods. More »
Down Beaches way is Wholesome Market, bringing fresh and natural goodies to Toronto's eastenders. More »
One of the better known health food stores in Toronto, Noah's has locations at points Central (Yonge & Bloor), Annex (Bloor & Spadina), North (Yonge & Eglinton), and way North (Vaughn). Lots of variety, but especially strong on supplements and natural cosmetics. More »