By Ravi Wood
For those of you who may not have heard about Harvest Noon, it is a social justice oriented café and cooperative found on the University of Toronto campus, and a great place to get lunch! Because it is a cooperative, it is entirely member-run, horizontally governed organization and is fueled by the many helping hands of a couple dozen volunteers. The website itself describes the café as such:
“Harvest Noon Café provides a relaxed and inclusive gathering space for both U of T students and members of the wider community to eat, cook, learn about, and express their love for food. As a café we aim to serve local, sustainable, and organically produced food and to support principles of food justice and accessibility. Harvest Noon is a project of the Toronto Sustainable Food Co-operative, an organization initiated by members of the student group Hot Yam! in the Fall of 2011. By building relationships with local producers and like-minded groups, we provide opportunities and support for folks interested in fostering good, clean and fair food alternatives.”
The café aims to make what they serve as accessible as possible, both in terms of cost and dietary restriction. Therefore all meals are vegan and nut-free, and many others are free of other allergens such as gluten and soy. (Wednesdays and Fridays also feature a gluten-free baked good!) An average lunch – consisting of an entrée, a slice of bread with hummus and salad – runs a mere $5 with plenty of opportunity to mix and match to accommodate your own dietary restrictions and/or taste buds. In the fall, winter and spring, there are two main entrees to choose from; and all year round there is homemade sourdough bread (with a starter that has been going for almost three years now!), salad, hummus, baked goods as well as coffee and tea. Besides being a community-oriented café, it also accepts responsibility of being an environmentally conscious organization. Almost all of the food is sustainably and locally-grown (with the exception of some of the more tricky gluten-free ingredients).
Besides serving lunch, the café is also open for bookings for community organizations and also frequently hosts workshops, lectures and other events. I myself have been a volunteer at the cooperative for about a year and a half, and I work in the kitchen and teach some workshops on traditional food skills in the café. Volunteering in the café is a great experience if you are interested in learning more about food justice, sustainability, alternative economies or anything in between. It is a very accommodating, sociable atmosphere where you work with a couple other passionate individuals at a time and can engage in great conversation while making delicious food!
If you are interested in volunteering, the shifts are divided into three time slots (9:30-11:30, 11:30-1:30, 1:30-3:30) Monday to Friday, and they’re always looking for extra hands. For more information, check their website out: http://harvestnoon.com/volunteering/.
If you are interested in swinging by for a delicious, healthy and wallet-friendly lunch, baked goods go out at around 10 and lunch gets served from 11:30-2. Also stay tuned for some upcoming workshops on fermentation facilitated by yours truly!