ripe nutrition

New Toronto clothing store ditches broth bar after cultural appropriation complaints

The owners of trendy new athletic apparel store PERMISSION are ending their partnership with Ripe Nutrition, a company that's been hosting a broth bar pop-up inside their store, following countless complaints of cultural appropriation from community members.

The pop-up opened inside the store at 127 Ossington Ave. earlier this month and has been selling "superfood bone broth" and other "wellness" items, but many have been raising their eyebrows at the fact that a company owned by a white woman is selling bone broth, hot sauce and other foods from different cultures. 

Ripe Nutrition's founder, Alexandra Baird, did not respond to blogTO's request for comment.

Toronto Star editor Evy Kwong is one of the community members that's been extremely outspoken about the issue this week, posting a lengthy Twitter thread Wednesday in which she pointed out that the company is white-owned yet selling bone broth, jerk sauce, pho hot sauce and "superfood dumplings."

"the cultures they are taking from literally fight daily for legitimacy. the *wellness* cleansing of the food, the lack historical understanding, and the number of followers is alarming. im not tryna knock small businesses but damn, this one hurts," she wrote.

Kwong added that PERMISSION is located across from Golden Turtle, a restaurant that has been serving authentic pho and Vietnamese cuisine since 1987 and has been struggling to survive amid the pandemic.

She also pointed out that Ripe Nutrition's marketing, which includes hot sauces called "jerk me" and "hot pho u" and refers to their broth bar as a "brothel," effectively sexualizes these traditional foods.

"i legit threw out my chinese food lunches cos white kids would make fun of it all day. i bought into pizza day and dry ass turkey burgers. so did many others. and now you taking our culture and selling it? and people think it's legit? damn," she added.

Kwong's thread has since been liked 753 times and has 140 retweets, and the comments on Ripe Nutrition's Instagram have been flooded with complaints about cultural appropriation and a lack of diversity.

Following the influx of complaints and criticism, PERMISSION posted an Instagram story Thursday afternoon suggesting that the partnership between the brands is over and the pop-up will be closing. 

Laura Santino, co-founder of PERMISSION, confirmed to blogTO that the partnership is no more and issued an apology to anyone hurt by the pop-up.

"As a new small business within the Ossington community, we value the rich history of the area and are committed to continuously educating ourselves on it. As we heard our community, this lead us to recognize the misjudgement in leasing our pop-up space," Santino told blogTO. 

"We acknowledge the hurt this has caused and apologize sincerely. Our pop-up was not in line with community values or our company ethos, and we have decided to part ways, effective immediately," she continued.

"We designed our pop-up to support small businesses and amplify voices within the city. We are committed to being more mindful on who occupies our space and encourage any local business who align with our sentiments, and are looking for a physical space to reach out."

Lead photo by

Alexandra Baird

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