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The scoop on Leslieville’s new zero-waste bulk foods shop

zero-waste bulk foods
The Source is where conversations begin about sustainability and end with a giant bag of dark chocolate granola.

the source bulk foods - leslieville

Most of us have our favourite places to go in Toronto. For me, one of them is Leslieville’s zero waste bulk foods shop, The Source.

More than a specialty bulk foods store offering a wide range of high-quality products, the shop is a source of inspiration and information for Toronto’s growing green community. There’s always a conversation about where our food comes from or how to substitute one type of product for another ‌to reduce our carbon footprint.

Open since October 2021, The Source already has its fair share of regulars who, like myself, are excited to join that conversation and fight climate change—one scoop at a time.

“We have a large extended family of regular customers who have elected The Source Bulk Foods as a natural extension to their kitchen pantry, and we love you all,” said Charles Peronnin, The Source's Regional Franchise Partner for Eastern Canada.

From baking powder to bee pollen, it’s an eclectic pantry and home to over 450 bulk foods, including organic whole foods, cooking liquids and oils, healthy snacks and sustainable personal and household products. You’ll find just about everything at The Source, but you won’t find single-use plastic.

Charles explained the closer to home you can source a product, the easier and economically viable it is to move that product around without generating packaging waste.

Ye old circular economy is making a come back in Toronto

The Source works with small local food producers to get away from the fossil-fuel-driven ecosystems of food supply.

Until the plastics industry scaled up and explored the versatility of petro-chemicals circa World War II, the predominant supply infrastructure was a closed loop. Wooden crates and barrels, robust jute bags and glass bottles were integral to a circular economy, said Charles.

“In today’s economy and supply chain environment, the application of closed-loop systems is challenging,” he said, pointing to regulatory food hygiene constraints and transport logistics as two of many reasons. “Most suppliers just won’t play along, even if they wanted to.” 

Besides inspiring consumers, this zero-waste bulk foods shop hopes to influence other retailers and suppliers to push for more closed-loop systems since ‌the real shift needs to happen upstream.

A closed loop system has other benefits beyond environmental, including recycling local dollars into the local economy and supporting diversity in our local food systems.

6 zero-waste bulk products we promise you’ll love

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1. Crickets - Yum. Or rather tasteless in my breakfast smoothie, but full of protein. Because of its neutral flavor, cricket powder can be used in a variety of recipes, including baked goods and salad dressings for an extra boost of energy.

2. Pomegranate Powder - I easily consume more than the “recommended” 2 litres of water a day with pomegranate powder from The Source. It’s like refreshing Kool Aid but for adults. Organic pomegranate powder contains both punicalagin and punicic acid–two antioxidants that are up to three times as effective as green tea. 

3. Bergamot All-Purpose Cleaner - Fill up your home with a beautiful bergamot fragrance every time you clean.

4. Lavender Mint Hand and Body Wash - Impressive. A little drop under running bath water  will fill your tub with a thick layer of bubbles and a magnificent aroma for a relaxing soak.

5. Mylk - Locally sourced, low-waste plant-based and closed loop, the shop’s plant mylk concentrates are the gold standard. Just mix the concentrate with water and shake it up for fresh plant mylk.

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The guilty pleasure is all mine

Charles is fanatic about the Vanilla Malt Granola which comes from an East Toronto chef who bakes it on-demand in small batches.

No batch ever tastes the same.

“The difference in the richness of flavors between a freshly baked small batch granola and standard industrialized production is unimaginable until you’ve had the opportunity to taste the difference,” said Charles, describing the Vanilla Malt Granola as a journey through childhood. “It blew my mind the first time I ever tried it and, six months later, it continues to surprise and delight me nearly every morning.”

But that’s not his only guilty pleasure. While this zero-waste bulk foods shop offers brown paper bags for scooping, they encourage customers to bring in their own jars to fill up (or refill).

“One of my guilty pleasures is walking a regular customer through their first time carrying their own container,” said Charles. “At that point I know that we’ve convinced one more person to challenge their usual approach to food consumption, and possibly start forming new mindful shopping habits.”

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