Orgasmic Organics

multiplefruit

Multiple Organics
1545 Dundas Street West
647-435-5340

 

What are two well-educated young women to do when they find themselves with doctorates, but no where to use them? Why, open an organic food store of course!

 

Such was the case for Nupur Gogia and Carrianne Leung recently when they discovered that the only way to make use of their formal education was to leave Toronto, something neither of them wanted to do. Gogia was already part of an established family business, running the successful Raani Foods, and Leung wanted to stay close to her family in Toronto’s west end. With no retail background other than Gogia’s experience selling her famous samosas at St. Lawrence Market, the pair leased a storefront in the Dundas West and Dufferin area and opened Multiple Organics just over a month ago.

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If It’s Not a Food, and It’s Not a Drug, Then What Is It?

Ladies and gentlemen, please take a moment to fashion yourself a lovely piece of millinery out of some kitchen foil. You’ll need it to ward off the gamma rays, because the guberment is out to get us all!!

The issue of Bill C-51 puts me in the unfortunate position of finding myself agreeing with the Conservative Federal government. But more than I despise conservatives, I detest people who get rich selling green powder and snake oil to unwitting chumps searching for a way to cure what ails them.

In most cases, big pharma has let them down, and yes, yes, yes, no doubt big pharma is in no small part responsible for pushing the government to pass this bill and force “natural health products” to the same standards used for pharmaceuticals. Undoubtedly, the bill will force some small companies out of business – but a lot of those companies will be shysters selling magic powder and a basket of hope to people who have already gone through enough.

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Someone Left the Cake Out in the Rain…

For some, it’s a dream come true, for others, it’s something they fall into and love, but lots of people end up running food-prep businesses that they start from home. Some of these are catering businesses, many more are baking businesses where folks use their love of pastry and mad skills to bake, decorate and sell cakes and pastries, doing what they love and making a little cash on the side.

I have family members, friends and know of a number of online (blogger) acquaintances who are all either running or starting a home-based food business.

Unfortunately, they’re all really, really illegal.

Home Business Advocate Beverly Williams explains about food-prep businesses on her site:

You must call the Department of Health in your area FIRST to find out if you are allowed to prepare food for sale in your home kitchen. The answer will be NO! I have never found a jurisdiction that allowed food for sale to be prepared in a home kitchen. Some areas do allow you to have a separate commercial kitchen for this purpose but the cost may be prohibitive. In some areas, you may be able to find a commercial kitchen that is not being used all day that might be willing to rent their kitchen to you. Most jurisdictions will require you to have your own business license as well.

 

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The Real Food Dilemma

I haven’t had time in the past week to talk about the Michael Pollan lecture. Mostly, I think, because it’s wasn’t actually that inspiring. It wasn’t bad, don’t get me wrong, he just didn’t say much of anything new. The brief hour started with Pollan reading an excerpt from In Defense of Food, then being interviewed by CBC’s Matt Galloway. His answers were informative, articulate and witty, but it felt very much as if he’d done it all a hundred times before. And of course, he had. Disappointingly, there was no audience Q&A, so anyone who had questions for the author had to stand in line for an autograph, and I’m told, was rushed through pretty quickly.

The following day, there was an interview with Pollan in the Toronto Star in which he pretty much skewered the vegetarian community based on his three vegetarian sisters who apparently eat a lot of mock meat. I’m torn on this point between being chagrined and flipping the bird in his general direction, and nodding in agreement. During my time as a vegetarian, and even today when cooking at home, I used a lot of soy-based products to recreate comfort food dishes like cabbage rolls and sheperd’s pie. I know how processed these products are, but I’m drawn into the trap of it being easier than coming up with a straight-up vegetarian dish, especially when trying to include protein. On the other hand, I really like my rule of no meat at home, because my job has me out a couple of times a week stuffing my face with everything from chicken wings to foie gras. I don’t need more meat in my diet, and relying on the protein in eggs and peanut butter gets tired really fast.

The desire to eat “real food” has left me with a bit of a conundrum.

The other issue with Pollan is this so-called manifesto. I hate lists of rules and regulations like this, because there’s always so many exceptions, and people either try to live by them devotedly and feel guilty (or make excuses) when they can’t; i.e. The Hundred Mile Diet. So while I agree that we should be paying more for better quality food, the rule about not eating alone is just asinine.

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Can Organics Feed the World?

vfvcimageCan organics feed the world?

This question was posed to the closing panel at this year’s Canadian Organic Growers Conference. Organic farmers, food producers, nutritionists and writers convened in Toronto this past Saturday to examine the issues and explore how organics is changing the world.

 

The day-long event included a keynote speech by Helge Hellberg of Marin Organic from Marin County California, who is hard at work to make Marin the first completely organic county in the United States. Hellberg, a Certified Holistic Nutrition Counselor recounted a visit to Marin County by Prince Charles, who is one of the world’s leading supporters of the organic movement to visit the Marin County farmers market. Hellberg’s inspiring speech set the tone for the day, as participants broke off into different seminars that ranged in topics directed towards farmers, food producers and consumers.

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The Lies on Your Yogurt Container

There has never been any debate that yogurt is a healthy food. Yogurt adds calcium and protein to the diet; can positively affect other health issues such as cholesterol, immunity and colon health; and is easier to digest than milk. Plain yogurt contains live bacteria that can regulate digestive issues and restore balance to a system thrown off by things like yeast infections or anti-biotics.

These good bacteria are known as pro-biotics, and occur naturally in plain yogurt made with live bacteria. However, once you get into sweetened or flavoured yogurt of any kind, the sugars kill off the live bacteria and the nutritional benefit is thought to be negligible.

Because food companies are always working to keep and increase their market share, and because our society seems to work on the theory that if a little of something can be helpful then a lot of something must be really, really great, processed foods have been popping up on the shelves of the dairy case touting the inclusion of pro and pre biotic bacteria.

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Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.

I was ready to dislike Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto before I even picked it up.

While I mostly enjoyed his previous book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, I felt that he did an awfully complicated song and dance in the steakhouse chapter to try and justify eating meat. Then I read a quote from In Defense of Food by another blogger which said “Don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food”, which riled me up excessively.

My own grandmother was all about baking fresh bread, canning tomatoes and picking blueberries, but she was also of a generation that fully embraced the new convenience foods. Not to mention that until 1973, she had never lived in a house with indoor plumbing – with four sons to feed, and then a handful of grandkids, can you blame her for throwing store-bought cupcakes and frozen pizza at us? The woman had to boil her dishwater on a kerosene stove!

Turns out Pollan’s quote is actually about GREAT-Grandmothers, which makes a heck of a lot more sense. Well, unless you factor in the lack of indoor plumbing (those great grannies would likely have been all over the Twinkies too!).

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Life’s a Bowl of Cherries

cherriesbiscotti

Although I try to eat a mostly seasonal diet, I’ve got to admit that in the dark months of January and February, I start craving fruit. Not just apples and pears, but bright juicy summer fruits like berries. At least once every winter I break down and come home from the grocery store with a bag of cherries, just because I really, really need them, even if they’re nowhere as good as the local cherries we get in the summertime.

 

Given that this week is the first National Eat Red Week (February 4th – February 10th), I don’t feel so bad about indulging in some cherries. Particularly since local tart cherries are available both dried and in juice concentrate form year round – Ontario is the sole producing province of commercially-grown tart cherries, most of which are the Montmorency variety, and over the past five years, the average annual crop has been an average of 10 million pounds.

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If the Shoe Fits

I’m having feet issues. A combination of genetics and decades of bad shoe choices have escalated into a diagnosis of flat feet and a need for orthotics.

Now, the word orthotics, in theory, should no longer strike fear in the hearts of people fated to wear the things. It used to be that foot problems meant orthopedic shoes, which were huge and lumpen and deformed, and were really not attractive. These days, those with foot problems fork over big cash for orthotic inserts that are not dissimilar to a plain old insole, except that they’re custom-made to fit your feet, have a whole lot more support along the arch and cost four or five hundred bucks.

Orthotic inserts were meant to solve the problem of ugly shoes, as they fit into most decently-made shoes, and no one would ever know you had uneven legs or were knock-kneed. Friends with orthotics have confirmed that they wear theirs in everything from Doc Martens to Fluevogs, just so long as the shoe has a removable footbed, decent heel support and a high level of shock absorption.

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To Hell With It – Pass the Cheese

I’m a terrible girlfriend. That is, I am never really comfortable hanging out exclusively with a group of women. I like to cook and I like fashion, but mostly I don’t get women things. I hate when my female friends talk about their partners behind their backs, and I’m never exactly sure what I’m supposed to say when other women start talking about their weight.

Sure, I have a critical Virgoan eye, and I notice physical changes, but – and I don’t want this to sound heartless – I don’t really care. A loss or addition of 5 pounds or 50 pounds isn’t going to make me change my opinion of someone. As someone who has been fat since puberty, I know better than to judge another person by some arbitrary number on a scale. Which is why I so dearly wish other people would stop judging themselves that way.

These thoughts are prevalent in my head at the moment for a couple of reasons. First, because I’ve just finished reading Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss – and the Myths and Realities of Dieting by Gina Kolata. When I put that book down the next thing I read was a series of three essays in the most recent Utne Reader, all on the topic of fat politics and fat acceptance. Combine that with the recent discussion with a friend about her need to lose 35 pounds, despite a plethora of other health and life concerns that make that task very difficult, and I’ve got fat on the brain.

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Being Tasered

I’ve been noticeably absent. Busy, in part, finishing up Christmas stuff (8 kinds of chocolates – done), but also because I’ve been having terrible pain in my hands and wrists. Numbness, too, which is scary. Numbness in one foot as well. I have enough acquaintances suffering from Multiple Sclerosis that I wasted no time in heading to the doctor.

The foot things seems to be my flat feet catching up with me. I had been seeing a chiropodist for ingrown toenails a couple of years ago, and she kept pressuring me to get orthotics, and I think I’m going to have to break down and do it.

The hands confounded the MD though, since one was numb and the other just hurt like a mofo at the wrist. They got me into the neurologists for an EMG pretty quickly, and Wednesday morning I lied around on a hospital bed while a nice lady zapped me with a mini-taser.

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The Pickle Barrel Gets Healthy

pbroseWhen we started this site some six months ago, we determined that our mandate was to cover anything and everything to do with food in Toronto. It’s easy to fall into the foodie trap of focusing on either cutting-edge and high end places, or hole-in-the-wall spots serving “authentic” cuisine from various cultures and completely ignoring a whole cross-section of stuff in the middle – which just happens to be where most people eat.

I was reminded of this recently when I received a press release inviting me to a tasting at The Pickle Barrel. The restaurant, which opened its first location in 1971 serving corn beef sandwiches and coleslaw, had recently undergone a make-over. The décor in most of the locations has been updated to a sleek and modern new look with cosy booths and tiled pillars. More importantly, the menu has been updated from its humble beginnings of deli meat sandwiches to a more cosmopolitan selection. The old favourites are now complimented by a variety of healthy options created by cookbook author and healthy living expert Rose Reisman. There is even a newly added menu of options that all come in at under 500 calories.

Go ahead and scoff, all you food snobs – the stuff is fantastic.

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What Do You Want… A Cookie?

cookies

Ah, the cookie. A simple treat that brings delight to millions. The cookie is the choice companion to cups of tea, the pacifier of boo-boos, the financial means for Girl Guides everywhere, and the choice prize handed out by the snarkily sarcastic. But for people with food allergies, finding tasty cookies and treats that won’t make them swell up and fall down can be a difficult task, as most mainstream brands include eggs, dairy, nuts, definitely wheat, and sometimes even animal fat. What’s an allergic vegan to do?

These days, folks once deprived of the joy of simple baked goods have found new hope in Eden Hertzog’s New Moon Kitchen. This gourmet bakery started in 1997 offers a range of six types of cookies and four loaf-style cakes that are entirely nut, egg, dairy, wheat, cholesterol and preservative free. Whew! They’re also made without the use of trans-fats, and all items are certified Kosher and vegan. And the best part is – they’re all really good!

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The Hidden Treasures at the Total Health Show

We approached the Total Health Show this past weekend with a bit of trepidation. Although it’s a well-respected event, now in its 30th year, and despite the focus organizers put on the more credible aspects of its participants, featuring things like massage and natural foods, there’s still an element to the world of holistic health that provokes me to peruse the schedule for the tinfoil hat fashion show.

We went with the intention of checking out the food vendors, since people are finally cluing in to the fact that good health is directly related to good nutrition, but were consumed with the fear that we’d get roped into trying some bio-feedback aura testing or buying the $30 bottles of magical juice that purports to cure everything from halitosis to cancer.

There were some of those folks there, to be sure, and we tried to keep our cynical comments to ourselves, but we were actually very pleasantly surprised to find a great number of vendors with really interesting, and tasty, products.

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Cravings and Squicks

Warning – this post contains discussion of vomiting.

Food, being, ideally, a sensual pleasure, is one of those things that we either really love or really abhor. Individual foods, I mean.

As children, we go through phases where we dislike different things, based on taste, texture or smell. As we age, those tastes usually adapt and progress, and we willingly eat spinach or beans or whatever food it is we hated so ardently in our youth.

The one exception to this is when food becomes associated with a traumatic event, particularly something physically traumatic like a serious illness. Watching it all come back up can turn us off from ever desiring a particular food again.

When I was a kid, my Mom was a big fan of cream of tomato soup. She always added additional milk to our soup, in part to cool it and additionally to make it creamier. Except one day, the soup was too hot and the milk curdled, although I didn’t know it at first spoonful. Haven’t been able to eat cream of tomato soup since then. I can’t, to be completely honest, even watch other people eat it, especially if they break crackers into it.

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Manic Organic – Part 2

Today we’re looking at the organic options in the higher-end grocery stores in my ‘hood. And the options really appear to be all about location. In Parkdale proper, even the prepackaged organic items can be hit or miss, but once I headed over to Roncesvalles Avenue where the supermarkets face stiff competition from a plethora of greengrocers, the organic options were overwhelming.

Loblaws
2280 Dundas West

With 300 products in the PC Organics line, I’m not about to list them all, and I’m going to go with the assumption that the Dufferin Mall No Frills offers a good cross-section of the prepared organic products. Instead, at Loblaws I concentrated on the produce section where there was, indeed, a decent amount of organic options to choose from. Organic strawberries were posted as being $5.99 compared to $4.99 for conventional and that price must have been attractive to customers as there were no organic strawberries left when I was there.

Of the organic cabbage, beets, radish, kale and carrots, all were imported. Pineapples, grapes and pears were also sold bagged, so there was no picking and choosing. Organic onions and sweet potatoes were sold in bags only, which might make the conventional versions of those items more of an option for anyone who needed only one or two of each. There was a decent selection of loose organic fruit, however, with mangoes, oranges, pears, lemons, avocado and kiwi all represented, as well as 5 varieties of organic apples.

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Manic Organic – Part 1

A few months back I read something in one of the newspaper food columns about how relatively easy it was to get organic produce at local supermarkets. The article specifically mentioned the No Frills in Dufferin Mall, and it left me scratching my head. See, I shop at that No Frills and I can’t really recall seeing a whole lot of organic produce there.

This provoked the desire to start exploring. Maybe there were hidden gems in my local shops that I wasn’t even aware of. So over the past few weeks, I’ve been wandering the supermarkets of the west end of downtown to see exactly what there was out there in terms of organics.

You’ll notice that I stuck to supermarkets and chain grocery stores, as this is where most people shop. My own grocery shopping excursions take me regularly to St. Lawrence and Kensington Markets, Whole Foods and Pusateri’s, as well as a variety of farmer’s markets, shops in ethnic neighbourhoods and small health food stores, in addition to frequenting the stores listed below.

In my travels for this article, I looked for specific items such as milk and soy milk, eggs, produce and prepared foods.

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Getting Taken For a Ride with Canada’s Food Guide

Yes, it’s the day that Canadians have been waiting for with bated breath – the release of Canada’s first new food guide in fifteen years. The media can’t stop singing the praises of the thing, but much of the media write their articles based on press releases. The truth is, the new Food Guide is not especially useful to anyone.

The guide has been redesigned to allow more personalization of choices; there are more ethnic foods to accommodate the cultural changes within our population, and it allows individuals to make specific choices with regards to which foods they will eat from each section.

But while the new Guide does offer serving sizes, it doesn’t differentiate it terms of calories or fat content. In the milk and milk “alternatives” section (to which I must emit a giant “HA!” – the only non-dairy “alternative” offered is soy milk), skim milk, 1% and 2% milk are all considered equal. And in the alternatives section, you can have pudding instead of a glass of milk. Not that milk should even be there to begin with (it’s really not necessary to good health and nutrition), but the Food Guide really wasn’t created with the health of Canadians as its primary focus anyway, and marketing boards have a much bigger say in the final draft than the real and genuine health concerns brought up by doctors.

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Let There Be Pie

About a year ago, I wrote a post bemoaning the transfats in shortening and a bunch of people suggested that I try a butter crust for making pies. I was generally pleased with a butter crust – it handles great and tastes delicious, but I was never totally happy with the fact that it seemed to get soggy. There’s just two people in our household and lest we make pigs of ourselves, we’re not really able to eat a whole pie between us (nor should we ever aspire to) before the crust got downright nasty.

Wednesday, Crisco announced that they have removed the transfats from ALL of their products. Not just that one, hard-to-find, green can of non-hydrogenated shortening, but the whole shebang.

Now that still doesn’t make Crisco a perfect product – as I’ve pointed out before, it’s made of t-shirts doused in pesticides. But butter has its failings as well, and while I’m not adverse to butter for specific, small-scale uses, I don’t always want the scary pile of cholesterol that a slice of butter-crust pie carries with it. (And yes, I’m a vegetarian, and yes, despite the fact that I’m a big gal, you’d kill your mother to have my cholesterol levels, but still – it all helps.)

So I think I might just have to switch back to shortening for my pie-making needs. With the health concerns pretty much evenly balanced now, it really does come down to taste and texture.

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If Soy Makes You Gay, How Come There Are so Many People in China?

Oh, those crazy Christians. Always questioning the world around them looking for answers to the things they don’t understand. Which would normally be a good thing, except when answers = scapegoating. Now that we’ve confirmed that Tinky Winky and his purse aren’t turning the world’s children into raging drag queens, the time has come for the Christian right to determine exactly what causes “teh gay”.

Apparently, it’s soy.

According to columnist Jim Rutz at WorldNetDaily (an informative site with articles titled “25 reasons to celebrate the nativity”, and why you should pull your children from public school (hint- it’s the debbil!!!), soy, which contains estrogen, is turning the fine, masculine young men of the United States into limp-wristed girlie-men.

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