"I think people often have less of an issue spending a lot of money on shoes or a handbag but they don't really think twice about what they put in their body," Ran Goel the CEO and founder of Fresh City tells me as I make a mental note of the empty takeout boxes and four pairs of shoes hidden under my desk.
"We started as an urban farm nine years ago in Downsview Park (which has become Canada's largest commercial city farm) with the idea to connect eaters and makers, to get people thinking about how food comes to their table. It started with deliveries of produce baskets and over time we evolved into a fully-fledged grocer that focuses on sustainable, organic and seasonal, fresh and prepared foods," Goel continues.
Growing up in Toronto, lettuce came from a bag and the only wild animals I saw were pigeons. Food didn't come from a local farm, food came from somewhere in Mexico and somehow ended up on my plate.
The first thing I notice when I walk into the Ossington location of Fresh City are the floor-to-ceiling windows adorned with planted herbs – this isn't your average grocery store. The food here is often grown and prepared on site.
And when it's imported, every step of the process, from the organic farm to the fair-trade labour to the transportation, has been painstakingly verified. "Organic is an important label, but it's not the only thing. You could get an organic banana that's made by slave labour. Our sourcing approach is what we pride ourselves on," says Goel.
The bananas in the produce aisle – beside the house-made salads that make my desk lunch look extra sad, and around the corner from the local charcuterie – are from Ecuador, and are Fair Trade. These are things I like knowing; things I can know because Fresh City does the homework for me.
Now it's up to me to not overcook the grass-fed steak from the Healthy Butcher or overdo the organic chicken in my basket and stop myself from buying every single Mabel's chocolate croissant.
Fresh City's newest store
Earlier this spring, the newest (and largest) Fresh City location opened at Bay and Gerrard. The store includes a café with a seating area for customers to enjoy a coffee, a croissant (the best) and some peace of mind knowing that your food was grown, made and delivered by good hands.
Fresh, jarred meals
If your idea of cooking is jabbing at the microwave, there's an extensive line of freshly made, pre-prepared meals that come in reusable jars which Fresh City will clean and sanitize. Try organic butter chicken for last-minute dinner or an apple pie breakfast jar that'll actually make you want to get out of bed.
The in-house delivery service
Lately, not leaving your house hasn't been frowned upon, it's heavily encouraged. Fresh City began delivering organic produce bags to homes and has grown into a complete online grocer including deliveries of family-sized meal kits to a bouquet of Ontario-grown tulips (not edible, sorry).