Natural and Organic in Montreal

My friend H visited us recently. She stayed with M and me while R was traveling. She noticed that I had some strange (to her) products and asked where I buy them. She specifically wanted to know about the toothpaste. Luckily, I bought a few last time and had one to give her to take home. As well, she got to take her bar soap home, like from any good B&B :-). Although she went to work from here, she said that she felt like she was on a holiday, which I was very happy to hear. Hope we meet more often, H!

I intended to send her an email listing where I buy various products. I do get asked this questions by other Montrealers too. So, here goes. This post goes out to all of my dear friends here. To you! And to yours! A description of various stores. I am thrifty. Walk as much as possible to avoid unnecessary spending. (For the record, R thinks that I am crazy. Why not just take public transport if I think driving or taking a cab when not needed is environmentally unfriendly? Bah, who wants to wait for the bus or go down multiple escalators to get to the metro system!) But I do spend a lot on things that go on or in my family.

Now for the stores…I’ll write about what I find in each store in a later post. I want to make an easy-to-refer-to table of sorts. Maybe make my savvy husband fix one up. He’s really good at that. They look a lot better than what I can get PowerPoint to do for me.

Le Frigo Vert, Centre Ville.

My first destination when I want to buy anything for personal care or for food is this Concordia University student co-op. Almost fully organic. All Concordia students are automatically members but one can also buy membership for C$20 per year. More than worth it. Non-members pay a 20% premium on products. Plenty of bulk bins for beans, flours, etc. Vegetables come in on Tuesdays. Vegetable selection is small. Local handmade snack items are available. It is open Monday-Thursday, 12-7 pm. Not open this week for some reason. Annual vacation, I suppose? Didn’t ask. Was busy buying the store out :-). Has some baby products and also organic and eco-friendly feminine products.

L’Autre Choix Mini Marche, Westmount.

The other choice.

Clara, the owner, is very friendly and knowledgeable about her products. Very helpful. She tries to bring in as many local products as possible. Almost fully organic. I believe the store is open 7 days a week. The store is a drop-off point for a few CSAs. The best part? She used to tell me not to waste anything upon seeing how much I buy. She once told me that she’d rather I buy less and use it all than that I buy a lot and waste anything. That is one kind of an ethical store I can get on board with. She stopped saying this to me now that she knows my eating habits :-). Which reminds me that I forgot to call in an order for milk. BRB. I am back. Where were we? Yeah. Milk. No. Eating habits. She has figured out that I am crazy like that. I think she is on board with that too :-). Doesn’t have products specifically intended for babies but has frozen organic fruits and vegetables. I don’t currently buy anything for a baby.

Ecollegey, NDG. New store in Plateau too. Not visited it yet.

Also mostly organic. Delivers on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It isn’t very convenient for me to go there on a bus. But I do like this store too. Delivery is free if you spend >C$80. Cost comparison with the one above? I am not a comparison shopper when it comes to food. I prefer to find something healthy and convenient. That I can sustain week after week or month after month, as the case may be. When I want/need things delivered and if I can get the total above 80, I go for this. I lean more towards the store above however, as I like to encourage a relatively new, small, and good business. Ecollegey has baby-specific products like cereals, wipes, natural and organic body wash…

Couffin Bio, Centre Ville.

Quite a selection of organic and natural products. I was told that all of their produce is organic 2 years ago. I used to go there more before I discovered Clara’s store above. Clara has a much bigger selection of fruits and vegetables, I think. Couffin Bio carries organic baby supplies. Definitely explore it if you get a chance.

Boutique Bummis, Plateau.

Baby supplies and mama supplies. I used their organic cotton prefold-PUL cover diapering kits on M. Excellent customer service. Hosts various meetings like baby wearing support groups. I don’t know what other classes they have. They are very helpful. So, a phone call will tell you what other sessions they host. Focuses on Canadian-made products.

Update: The store is now, closed. But their products are available online at bummis.com

Melons & Clementines, NDG.

Nursing and other mama supplies, baby supplies. Also rents rooms out for various parenting classes and even a baby music class. Much more. I took their Infant and Child CPR class. Also, great customer service. Has a cafe and a play area for children. Parents or sitters have to watch over the little ones. No babysitting service from the store, as far as I know.

PA Supermarche, Centre Ville. More stores elsewhere. See links.

PA does not need introduction for downtowners. Mostly not organic. Has organic milk and eggs, Inewa organic sourdough bread, organic L’Ancetre hard cheeses and butter, sprouted grain or other organic cereals, Bob’s Red Mill or other gluten-free foods which were handy when M had wheat intolerance as a baby. Best part? Willing to order new products and see if there is sufficient interest among their clientele. Lowest prices of all super markets. Many employees milling around to get help finding products, especially during the day. Very busy store. When M had a dairy intolerance, they ordered calcium-fortified coconut milk drink when I requested it. Unfortunately, it didn’t sell well. They pulled it out. They do have other products from the same company. Can’t say that I myself liked the coconut milk too much but I religiously bought and used it as long as they had it in stock. Calcium-fortified drinks make me feel like I have arthritis. No. Not exaggerating but that is a topic for perhaps a future post.

Provigo, all over the city.

Has some organic fruits and dairy. Dairy is more expensive than at PA.

Marche Victoria, near Plamondon Metro Station. On Victoria.

Indian (South Asian) store with best selection of Indian vegetables in town. Gets vegetable supply in on every Thursday, mid-morning. Has most Indian food basics. Con. Narrow aisles. Difficult to maneuver with stroller or even walking toddler. I don’t attempt to go there alone with M. Very difficult to keep her out of the way of other shoppers. Pro. Inexpensive food.

Marche Jolee, near Cote Sainte Catherine Metro Station, also on Victoria.

Indian (South Asian) store. Also has vegetables. Smaller selection of Indian vegetables, I feel. Easier to find South Indian foods there. Biggest positive surprise. They have frozen mango leaves. What for? If you don’t already know, you don’t need to know. Really. Trust me on this. What other surprises do they have in store (pun intended)? I wonder.

“I wonder why, I wonder why, I wonder why I wonder. 
 I wonder why, I wonder why, I wonder why I wonder.”

A joke from farewell party to the graduating class during my second year of undergrad study. Apparently, I used the phrase “I wonder” a lot, at one point. SD wrote this… couplet(?) for me. I think we had to guess whom the couplet referred to.

Pharmacie Jean Coutu, everywhere in the city.

Has several organic personal care products. Prices tend to be cheaper than Pharmaprix. Somehow has a better selection of products too. Both stores have Dora and Diego toothbrushes. Very important for M er… Me :-).

I think that is about it. This is not to imply that if I am in the vicinity of a store from which I can find something I need in a hurry, I won’t buy it. But I don’t look around. I have looked around enough, don’t you think?

There are other stores and businesses that offer similar services to ones I name above. But I am only focusing on stores with food and personal care products. Other services I mention are incidental to the focus of this post.

Disclaimer: These are strictly my opinions and impressions. No business asked me to write this, much less paid me for it. I am writing this for my friends and anyone else who is interested.

Introducing…Life is Science

When my 3-year old wants to be entertained, her go to “game” is a story involving her and all of her favourite and made up characters. For instance, Ullu Aunty (Aunt of the Owl in Winnie the Pooh) doesn’t like brushing her teeth, clipping her nails… general hygiene. As a result, the dentist warns her about tooth decay and at one point even has her tooth pulled out. Long nails once scratched Winnie the Pooh and “stuff and fluff” came out of his seams. Now, even though she doesn’t like it, she cuts her nails to protect her friends from getting hurt. M goes on adventures with Dora and Boots and for them to cross Grumpy Old Troll Bridge, they rely on M to solve the riddle. Usually, a simple spelling or addition. When crossing the bridge is at stake, the answers come tumbling out of M. Out of a Dora story context, any number plus any other is usually six, with a grin. A kitten grows up to become a C-P-T or some such. When the stakes are raised, read – to cross the bridge – the answers magically transform into what are generally accepted as correct.

Her new obsession is writing (or drawing as she calls it) and her words usually look like ECG traces. Speaking of traces, she can trace letters but cannot copy them too well. I asked friends in India to send me syllabi of their children’s age 3-4 class, to figure out what I can teach her. Unfortunately, she looks to be more interested in learning biology and physics than what sounds more appropriate for her age. So, I decided, so be it. I want her to enjoy the process of learning new things. When she becomes interested in learning to write, not just writing itself, she’ll get there. For now, I am going to do simple experiments with her, for her to observe phenomena around her. Not that she knows the word phenomena. I am not that much of a geek. But she does know that the circulatory system involves the heart and that the dag-dag of the heart can be felt at the carotid artery. There’s some tickling fun built into finding her pulse :-).

This is the Mother Ship Geek Scientist. These are our adventures.