Produce at your Doorstep

As an avid cooker and veggie lover and living in the city without a car, I have spent way too much time weighing the pros and cons of signing up for a program to have my weekly produce delivered to me. Every few months, I do a google search and come up with a new kid on the block selling these services. It’s time for me to share this information with you all, but it’s also time for me to bite the bullet and sign up with one of these companies.

No matter your priority, there should be something out there for you. You can focus on organic, on local, on in-season varieties, and you can even add bread, eggs, dairy and meat to your order.  You can choose the size of your produce box, and have it be filled with only vegetables, only fruit, or a combination of both.  Some companies will deliver right to your door, some to a local hub in your community. Sometimes you’ll be charged to make substitutions to the weekly stock, sometimes not. The boxes are all priced similarly, with minor differences in services.

Image from Fresh City Farms

Image from Fresh City Farms

I recommend you take notice for a couple of weeks of what types of produce you absolutely eat every week (avocado? lemons? kale? apples?), and what items you buy and subsequently struggle to use before they go bad.  Summer is a particularly great time of year to sign up and give produce delivery a whirl, because the items will inevitably be a lot more exciting than the potatoes, carrots and turnips that will fill your produce box in the winter time!

Good news for the suburbs: most of these companies deliver to your door in Scarborough, Richmond Hill, Toronto, Etobicoke and Mississauga! Better yet, check out Ontario’s Community Supported Agriculture website for farm to kitchen boxes all over Ontario. The following company names are linked to websites where you can get specific information on pricing, product selection and delivery.

Mama Earth Organics

Probably one of the most popular services in the city thanks to to an effective marketing campaign, Mama Earth offers four sizes of boxes ranging between $27 – $55, with a $2 charge for customizing your entire basket. Delivery is free on orders of $30 and there is no commitment, so you can place an order on a week-to-week basis. For no charge, you can select 5 items you’d like to never receive. Mama Earth has partnered with many local companies to deliver cheeses, breads, jams, coffee and more with your order, priced as they would be on the store shelves (but with free delivery!). Live in a condo/apartment? Buzz in the delivery people remotely and they’ll leave the produce box right at your door. In season, Mama Earth aims to have 80-90% of your basket locally sourced.

Fresh City

A typical box comes with about 7 – 12 types of produce and sizes vary between $28 and $31, delivery included. Fresh City requires no time commitment and Fresh City claims to be 26% cheaper than buying the same items at your local big box grocer. Live in a building? If you get at least 3 people to sign up in your building, you’ll save $3 per order! 80% of your box is aimed to be local, with greens and sprouts grown in a greenhouse at Downsview Park. Check out their website to see what was in the box last week to get a feel for the mix. Fruit only boxes feature some pretty cool tropical fruits, like starfruit and passion fruit! Everything at Fresh City is organically grown, but not necessarily certified organic since the cost of certification is cost-prohibitive for many small local farmers.

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Refresh your Running Playlist

This weekend in Toronto the temperature is going up to an incredible high of TWELVE DEGREES CELCIUS!! sarcasm.

Truth be told, this buffer between cold and warm is my favorite temperature for running. Throw in the fact that I have found a few friends in my new-ish neighbourhood who also plan on crushing the Sporting Life 10K race in May, and suddenly we have ourselves a new running club that hits the pavement a few times a week.

running

A friend transplanted in New York saw this running group picture and asked for a playlist to help get her motivated to run.  I love getting requests for specific posts, so ask and you shall receive!  My playlist needed some refreshing, so after some digging, prodding and listening to remix after remix, here you go – a spring playlist refresh to help move your legs. (N.B., Alex: if you plan on running another marathon, this won’t suffice – it’s just over an hour of music ;) )

The challenge I’d love some help in resolving is getting this mix to my phone. Soundcloud has a free app for streaming, which is one way of getting this to work. Any idea how I can download/copy this to my phone so I’m not reliant on having a healthy signal? Advice is appreciated!

Happy running/gymming/listening and hoping this helps to usher in spring!

Warby Parker

So, I’m sorry to report this, but it appears that summer is never coming. Ever. And I wonder why I’m not at all inspired to  shop when I walk past stores with my fur-lined hood blocking my peripheral vision. Except one thing happened last week: the SUN came out! I’ll still grumble about the cold, but the sunshine definitely helps. The moral of this long-winded story is this: forget spring shopping because it’s not coming – but definitely buy some new sunglasses, because you may need those. This is how I’ve decided to update my wardrobe for the upcoming “season”.

I started searching the trends of the eyewear season (yup, it’s a thing) to update my classic aviator look. The fashion consensus is as follows: cat eyes, embellishments, coloured frames and plastic “james dean” looks are all the rage. Timing couldn’t have been more perfect for Kelly and I to get an email from our favorite eyeglass outfitters Warby Parker asking us to share the launch of their latest sunnies. Suddenly my spring shopping list is complete:

Spectrum_gradient_HALL

Maybe I should back up for a minute. Are you familiar with Warby Parker? These are ultra-stylish, cheap (read: from $120 pair, including prescription lenses) glasses that are delivered to your door. I wasn’t entirely sold until I visited a showroom in New York City and tried the frames on, but I am now and they haven’t left my face. Kelly ordered hers by mail and now we are Warby Parker twinsies, only I wear the Percies and she wears the Holcombs.  The at-home try-on system lets you pick five frames, have them sent to you by mail to try on, gives you 5 days to live with them and send them back (free return shipping), then you can place your order. Once you place an order, a pair of glasses gets made and sent to someone in need, too. A charitable spin is always a feel-good thing.

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Top 10 Albums of 2013

The time of year has come again for me to make a list of the tunes that have dominated my speakers over the past year. Often my favorite albums correlate with the live shows I’ve seen, since I always try to intimately get to know a new album before I see a band perform it. Inevitably, there are two or three albums that dominate my waking hours and keep me from getting out there and listening to new stuff. This year, Rhye’s Woman, Arcade Fire’s Reflektor and Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories became the subjects of my obsession.

I’m getting ready to take a big, long vacation and it couldn’t come at a better time. For one, it’s freezing out and I’m escaping winter. Secondly, as my favorite sources of music news and reviews start to release their top 10 / 25 / 50 / 100 albums of the year, the list of albums I’ve somehow overlooked over the past year is growing and I get to refresh my iPod with tons of new music. So far on my list: Tennis, Grizzly Bear, Childish Gambino, M.I.A., Burial, Crystal Antlers, Volcano Choir and Juana Molina; these are the artists that will keep me company on planes, trains and beaches.

I was looking back on my favorite albums of 2012 and I realize that I’m still listening to those albums. My favorite albums of 2013 will no doubt remain on rotation, because a favorite album is one that you never tire of. Albums where after each play, you change your mind on which is your favorite track and each new listen has you noticing a different riff, new lyrics and new layers – these are worthy of being favorites.

Once again, in no particular order (because that is just a migraine waiting to happen), my top 10 albums of 2013:

2013 top 10

  1. Rhye – Woman
  2. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
  3. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
  4. Tegan & Sara – Hearthrob
  5. Arctic Monkeys – AM
  6. Haim – Days Are Gone
  7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito
  8. Austra – Olympia
  9. Local Natives – Hummingbird
  10. Kid Cudi – Indicud