We have all heard about the many reasons we should shop local. It might mean shopping for food directly from your farmer at the market, or shopping an indie store instead of a big box store, it can mean something as simple as choosing your frozen peas by finding out where they were grown (always on the package!), or eating at a restaurant that is not part of a chain and supports a better food system, using a local service rather than one overseas, hiring homegrown talent, ordering online from Canadian companies instead of international ones, buying from a crafts-maker instead of a mass-produced good, for example.
We should always be after buying the most local possible, and beyond that, as a Canadian, and proud Canadian small businesses, I choose to support what’s homegrown! Buying local (and healthy) means our purchase has a smaller environmental impact (as their products don’t have far to travel to get to you), it keeps money in our community, it supports job creation, and supports local small business owners – your neighbours. Every time we choose to support companies that are treating our land, animals, and people the best possible, we are making a HUGE difference. Every dollar we spend is a vote for more of that product or service. It has an impact! So, let’s choose to vote for the right stuff.
This is a (short)list of a few truly, and purely Canadian brands – but it’s a big community and country, so find your favourites, support them, and then share with others!
ESCUMINAC Is there anything more Canadian than maple syrup? Not only does Escuminac produce pure, certified organic (yes, organic maple syrup matters!) maple syrup in Quebec, but they specialize in birch syrup, which is unique. Birch syrup has a strong taste, and is less sweet than maple syrup with hints of caramel and even balsamic vinegar. Their glass bottles are magnificent, and the people behind the brand are passionate and kind.
BEAU’S Beer is a classic Canadian drink, and Beau’s is setting a new, and a good standard that we can only hope others will try and keep up with. This certified organic craft beer comes from the village of Vankleek Hill in Eastern Ontario. Beau’s considers the environmental impact of everything they do – from the brewing process to using 100% post-consumer posters, brochures, and coasters, too. Beau’s, an award-winning, local, family-run, organic, and independent brewery, gets rave reviews from beer connoisseurs. Bonus points for being a Certified B Corporation (as is Borden Communications!)
WULLY OUTERWEAR Another thing all Canadians need is a way to stay warm in the winter. With so many options that are made from unethical materials in terrible factories, Wully coats are designed and made in Toronto – and sport an iconic Canadian plaid lining too. Quality, warmth and style, plus, Wully prides themselves on being ethical, vegan and cruelty free. $10 from every jacket sold is donated to the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals.
SEABUCKTHORN WELLNESS MATCHA This caffeine-free tea is made from seabuckthorn leaves organically grown on the Canadian Prairie. It’s non-GMO, vegan, wild crafted and organic, gluten-free, soy free, dairy free, nut free, and cruelty free, and great for strengthening the immune system, increasing energy, and promotes clear, radiant skin. Seabuckthorn is not only healing for our bodies, but for our land too. It is now restoring over one million hectares of fragile land, repairing damaged soil, and returning nutrients directly back into the earth.
WILD MUSKOKA BOTANICALS Based out of a Wild Spirit Permaculture Homestead on the western edge of Algonquin Park. It exists to reconnect people with the natural world and to promote health and wellness through incorporating wild plants and traditional herbal medicines back into people’s modern lives.
COMFYCOMFY It’s not just Canadians who need a good night sleep, that’s critical for us all, but have you checked out what your pillow is made from, or where it was made, and by who? Some are doused in flame retardants. As Annie Leonard, from the Story of Stuff commented, you’d think “we could think of a better way to stop our heads from catching on fire at night”. I agree. ComfyComfy is a small family business dedicated to creating quality pillows filled with organically grown Canadian buckwheat and flaxseed – all made in Toronto. Their casings are even made from organic cotton and sewn in Toronto. Bonus points: these pillows are supposed to help limit snoring (we are in trial with this on the personal front!).
FILSINGER’S Using whole certified organic apples of several varieties grown on their own farm in Ayton, Ontario, Filsinger’s makes sweet apple cider, apple sauce, apple cider vinegar, apple butter, and more – all of which are free from preservatives and additives and packaged in glass with care. Filsinger’s products taste great because they take the time and care to treat their land right (that’s our land, air, soil and water, too!), using seaweed extracts, trace minerals and compost to balance the soil in their orchards. Look for their label, their product line is great, and who doesn’t need apple cider vinegar in their life?!
THE GREEN BEAVER COMPANY Green Beaver, a family-owned and proudly Canadian businesses from Hawkesbury, Ontario, uses only natural (really, and truly natural) ingredients to create safe alternatives to personal care products – and household cleaning products too. Passionate about protecting our land (and people), they curate Canadian organic ingredients as much as it is possible, in order to create the best products, reduce their environmental impact and to encourage organic farming in Canada. They believe that each of us has the opportunity to create a positive impact in this world – even if just by washing your hair and brushing your teeth better! They welcome everyone to their factory with an open door policy – how incredible is that?
SPLENDOR GARDEN From the great Canadian plains of Saskatchewan, where some of the best oats are grown in the world (and other grains cannot thrive), Splendor Garden grows and packages their own crops. Did you know that many brands just buy other farmers’ crops and package it? Splendor Garden prides themselves on their gluten-free oats (available rolled, thick rolled, and steel cut) that are 100% Canadian, certified organic, GMO-free, and grown with no harmful chemicals or synthetic fertilizers. Who needs Quaker?!
URBAN TREE SALVAGE Urban Tree Salvage was Canada’s first and is the largest municipal log salvaging operation based in Toronto. When a tree comes on hard times be it insect infestation, storm damage or urban development, Urban Tree Salvage rescues these logs from becoming mulch or other ends as equally unappreciative of a tree’s beauty and value and turns them into handcrafted, one-of-a-kind pieces, from small pieces like serving boards and iPad stands, to larger furniture pieces like tables and media units. I love gifting the serving boards and serving on them at home too.
MANITOBA HARVEST Surprising to some, industrial hemp has deep roots in Canada. Fun fact: Hemp was one of the first crops that Champlain planted at Port Royal and later in Québec. After a half century’s absence from Canada’s fields and factories, hemp cultivation was again allowed in 1998. Hemp is an interesting, fascinating, versatile and flexible plant. Manitoba Harvest’s organic hemp hearts are grown in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba and are truly a superfood – exported well beyond our borders, but widely available here. Nut-free and nutritious, they add a little nutty taste and nutrition to your favourite recipes including salad dressings, salad toppings, cereals, dairy-free yogurt, smoothies — and, of course, homemade 2-minute-to-make, hemp milk.
LOVE NORTH Originally called Earth Mama’s Medicinals, Love North makes high quality, botanical skincare and herbal medicines. Although there are many brands that make these claims locally, Ashley love grows many of her own ingredients and all of her ingredients are ethically wild-harvested from plants from the Great Lakes & Boreal forests of Canada, with no more than 10% of the plant being harvested at one time. Her line of functional air and body sprays, balms, serums and more are worth using, for every right reason.
SOUTHBROOK VINEYARDS Although Canada might be known for multiple wine regions, there are very few vineyards that not only produce tasty wine, but also care about making sure there aren’t pesticides in your glass! Located in Niagara on the Lake, Southbrook Vineyards is Canada’s first biodynamic vineyard, using practices that are in harmony with the land. Their wines are completely organic and vegan-friendly. Their bottles are even made from local, recycled glass, and happy, healthier people are involved in their company because of the way they grow, produce and distribute. Cheers!