The skinny on MAPLEKEYS LUNCHTIME OFFICE MARKETS
When? TUESDAYS AT THE ANNEX 11:30-1:30
WEDNESDAYS AT SPADINA 11:30-1:30
What? A miniature farmers market right where you work. Talk about convenient! Fresh food to take home to prepare PLUS hot lunches ready to eat made with wholesome and delicious fresh ingredients.
Who? Kate Hamilton of Maplekeys Office Markets.
Why? (from a recent post to my blog at www.philosopheroffood.com)
As part of my work at the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) convening the Food Innovation Constellation with Mike Paduada and Tonya Surman, I have the opportunity to pilot ideas designed to enhance what we're calling the Good Food sector. Working in collaboration with CSI's partners, we are starting to roll out projects to build capacity in this sector. One such project is focussing on food distribution and involves a collaboration between CSI and Maplekeys Office Markets. The lead at Maplekeys, Kate Hamilton, is herself a farmer. Kate's idea is to build new distribution channels for local food to get to the consumers' kitchens.
The problem is that in Ontario, as across the country, supermarket chains have increased the share of the consumer food dollar and as they consolidated, buying up small grocery chains, they also developed their own supply chains in a move known as vertical integration. This move has in turn made it increasingly difficult for small farmers to get their produce to the consumer. Chains want consistency: they want apples year round, and ideally they want to deal with a single supplier. So while some farmers have scaled up becoming importers of apples in addition to farmers, others, including many small scale farmers have found that existing routes to the consumer via supermarkets are no longer open. This pattern applies to meat, to produce, as well as to other food products.
In the face of consolidation of food distribution by the supermarket chains, new foodways to the consumer need to be developed so that farmers and small scale producers can get their products into our kitchens. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) schemes are one way that local farmers' food makes it to our kitchens. But CSAs are not for everybody. Another method is the farmers market. Toronto has witnessed a blossoming of farmers markets across the city, but there remain food deserts: places where there is no fresh food available within walking distance.
Another innovation is to bring the fresh farm food and locally produced foods to where the consumer is already. Kate Hamilton of Maplekeys Office Markets is piloting a program to bring a scaled down version of a farmers market to offices in the downtown.
She is piloting the Maplekeys Lunchtime Office Market in two buildings of the Centre for Social Innovation in downtown Toronto. At the Annex, the Lunchtime market will run for a month on Tuesdays from 11:30 to 1:30 pm. The Lunchtime Office Market sells local breads, cheeses, produce as well as fairtrade and organic chocolate. Hamilton is hoping to expand the offering but wants to take it slowly to ensure that revenues keep apace with expansion. She is also offering her customers a lunch that can be purchased at the market for immediate consumption. This way, CSI members can buy something for lunch as well as something to prepare and/or eat at home.
Once she irons out the wrinkles of the weekly markets at the CSI locations, Hamilton plans to use the model in other offices in the city.
Good food isn't all that good if it isn't convenient. Many of us adore the slow food principles but live the fast food life. Bringing fresh food to where people have to be anyway is an idea whose time has come. And Maplekeys Office Markets is showing how new distribution routes can be forged in the face of the supermarkets consolidation.
See Colleen's mini-doc on the Annex market!