Thursday 22 April 2010

Alley Food with Karma

If you are cruising Toronto around Palmerston and Barton, two side streets you're very likely never to be on, you'll probably notice one of the nice wood-carved, painted, signs announcing Karma Co-op. You won't see any such place though. You will have to follow the arrow on the sign. The arrow will lead you into a narrow alley. Half way up this alley there is a sort of asphalt alcove.... and there it is!... found it! The Karma Food Co-op. A surprisingly cute little building, hidden away in an alley.

After possibly years of considering it, off and on, but never yet following the arrow to see where it led, we attended one of their orientation sessions last Saturday, and joined.

We chose to become "working members", because that is part of the point of it to us: to have a little closer relationship with (and control of) to our sources of food. This means that we each volunteer to work at the store for 2 hours a month. It doesn't seem like much time, though no doubt it will be some challenge to schedule for us, with the kids and all. But we're both looking forward to getting to know the quaint place a bit better, in this way.

The co-op store was bigger and more well stocked than I had imagined. It is apparently the oldest running food co-op in Toronto, started in 1972. The person doing the orientation session, Paul, described a bit of the history. He informed us that it was started mainly by a group from University of Toronto and... and... and... Quakers. Quakers! This was a coincidence we had somehow not known. Interesting.

Paul explained that there were a lot of different reasons people had for wanting to be a part of the co-op: economic, social, gastronomic, and even sometimes as part of a philosophy of a larger faith community.

While the store is not 100% organic and locally grown food, they naturally are heavily inclined in that direction. There is a list of the local farmers who supply food on one of the blackboards --- just so you know. Because of the low volume sources, and quality, of most of the food, it is not entirely "cheap". But the mark-ups are all known, constant, and significantly lower than a grocery store. You can also special-order anything you want from the supplier catalogues in the office.

An interesting place, with interesting stuff, and run in an interesting way, by interesting people, with some interesting methods. We shall see how it goes.

Click the parsnips for more pics! (Though most of them are a bit boring; a bit of a catalog i could look at and remember the stuff they had in the store...)

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