Notice Working Members: Pausing Mandatory Hours for December & January

Hello all Karma working members,

We’ve decided to suspend mandatory working hours for all working members for both January and retroactively for December. You won’t be required to work your mandatory two hours per month for either December or January. Nor will you be penalized should you elect not to work in December or January. We will provide an update for the February Chronicle about February working hours. This policy change is currently a work in progress, so if you have any questions about hours owing, please ask staff to leave a note your member account when you’re in store or email Robbie, our Member Records Secretary at (Please note Robbie usually only checks email once a week, so please be mindful of that when awaiting a response.)

That said, staff really appreciate in-store assistance from those members who feel comfortable working. We are in particular need of the members to work closing store shifts and delivery driver shifts. For the latter, we need reliable delivery drivers who have availability between 11am-4pm on Fridays to deliver orders to vulnerable members. You’re welcome to drop in anytime during that window of time to pick up deliveries. Anyone who is interested in learning more or assisting, please contact Paul at

Take care,

Alli Floroff

Interim General Manager

Gift card and raffle January update

Author: Andrea Dawber
Tagline: Don’t think the gift card and raffle are going away with 2021!

Post-holiday giving with gift cards!

Even though the holiday season may be over, Karma still invites you to share your love of Karma by purchasing $25 or $50 gift cards for family and friends. Gift cards are available at the cash.

Win $500 of Karma groceries in our New Year’s Raffle

With every purchase of $100, from now till January 16, you will receive a ticket to enter Karma’s New Year’s Raffle and a chance to win $500 in Karma groceries. Good luck, members! Our New Year’s draw will take place on Sunday, January 16, 2022 at 4pm. 

Co-ops 101

A non-financial co-operative is a corporation that is legally incorporated under specific Federal, Provincial, or     Territorial co-operative acts and that is owned by an association of people seeking to satisfy common needs,     such as access to products or services, sale of products or services, or employment.  Two thirds of active non-financial co-operatives are consumer co-operatives; 15.8% are producer co-ops; 9.1% are multi-stakeholder co-ops; 6.5% are worker co-ops; 1.3% are federations.

Source: Statistics Canada

Co-ops 101

Co-ops around the world are organized according to the seven international principles of co-operation:

    Voluntary and open membership

    Democratic member control

    Member economic participation

    Autonomy and independence

    Education, training and information

    Co-operation among cooperatives

    Concern for community

Co-operatives in Canada

Author: Ann Benedek

Tagline: Let’s start 2022 with a fresh look at the history and present state of the co-operative movement in Canada.

Step into Karma Co-op.  There’s a kind of laid back, friendly vibe going on – the young woman stacking fresh veggies looks like she’s enjoying it; ask someone for information and they’re glad to help, and the another young woman behind the cash says, “Hi, how’s your day going?”.  Not your usual shopping experience?         

Karma is a member-owned, democratically run co-op where members are actively involved in their store.  They have a say in what foods and products are available, their source, and if they meet quality standards – all of which fosters a healthy and ethical connection to the food we eat, the people who grow it, and the community at large.  It’s what cooperative means: working or acting together for a common purpose.

    And back in 1761, that is what a group of textile workers did by creating The Fenwick Weavers Society in the village of Fenwick, Scotland.  Eight years later, they formed a consumer co-operative for the benefit of members.  Such groups came together as a movement with the advance of industrialization beginning in Great Britain in the late 1770s, then on to the rest of Europe, and the idea of social equality gradually gained support among forward thinking businesses and workers.  In 1844, twenty-eight cotton mill workers labouring under low wages and poor conditions pooled their resources in order to purchase basic foodstuff at affordable prices.  Known as the Rochdale Pioneers, many consider them the founders of the modern co-operative movement in Lancashire, England.  

    Here in North America, Co-op marketing organizations made an appearance as far back as the 1840s, setting out guidelines that reflect co-operative values.  Originating in England, these principles are much the same today (See Sidebar) and are the cornerstone of co-ops around the world. 

    It seems the farming community played a large role in Canada’s co-operative movement.  Between 1860 and 1900, Canadian farmers in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada developed over 1,200 organic co-operative creameries and cheese factories.  Then in 1906, Prairie farmers organized the Grain Growers’ Grain Company, and by the 1920s, co-ops sold grain for farmers who were members.  Interest in co-operatives continued to grow throughout the early 1900s.  

    Ontario’s oldest co-operatives were both created in 1913 and still exist today – Vineland Growers Co-operative, and the Guelph Campus Co-op (originally OAC Students’ Co-op), for example.   There is an interesting early 20th century political link to co-ops in Ontario. Ernest Charles Drury, a founder of the Ontario agricultural movement, was our Premier, and Agnes MacPhail, an early director of that same movement, was Canada’s first female Member of Parliament.

    A 2017 Canadian government survey of four types of non-financial (see Sidebar) co-operatives that included worker co-ops reported “. . . co-operatives seem to have confidence in the road ahead.”  Statistics Canada seems to agree, showing 5,812 active non-financial co-operatives in Canada in 2019, an increase of 1.5 percent from the previous year.   Of those, 1,104 were in Ontario.  According to the Ontario Co-operative Association, the fastest growing sectors are local (often also organic) food and renewable energy.  The future was looking good.  

    Then, in March 2020, the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic, causing anxiety and economic uncertainty for businesses large and small.  This ongoing situation presented challenges not only to co-ops, but to local producers and farmers too.  Like other food co-ops, Karma knows the importance of community, and that supporting food co-ops means supporting those local producers and farmers.  Concern for shoppers and workers introduced a new form of shopping – Pandemic Shopping – through new safety measures such as mask wearing and social distancing.  

    “We saw a huge increase in sales during the first few months of panic buying,” says Alex Molina, Karma’s former interim general manager.  

    “Now, over a year into the pandemic we are seeing higher costs for products and more member

resignations. The pandemic has really put a strain on smaller grocers such as ourselves.  I’m hoping that with more community outreach and as things return to normal we will see new and old members come back to the co-op.”

Interested in further co-operative movement reading?  Go to the following online links:

.    Government of Canada: Information Guide on Co-operatives: Co-operatives in Canada

.    Ontario Co-operative Association>brief-history-co-ops

.    The Working Class Movement Library

Thank you, Future Fund donors!

Author: Andrea Dawber, President

Tagline: Sixty-eight Karma members have contributed $15,346 towards our Future Fund for capital improvements to our beloved building.

Sixty-eight Karma members have contributed $15,346 towards our Future Fund for capital improvements to our beloved building. Many current and past members generously stepped forward from December to January to support our Future Fund holiday campaign, and members have continued to contribute to this important fund. Over the next five years, aspects of Karma’s building will require renewal, and some of our aging equipment will also need to be replaced. These updates are essential to our operations and effectiveness. The Building Committee has already been improving the level of care and maintenance for our building, and further plans will be based on Karma’s Building Condition Assessment from 2020. An electronic copy can be emailed to you if you send a request to

Karma conversations in 2022

Author: Andrea Dawber, President

Tagline: This spring, we will be hosting a series of three Karma Conversations, starting with updates on our accessibility and structural renovations, planned for this summer.

Photo Credit: Priscilla Du Preez from Unsplash

This spring, we will be hosting a series of three Karma Conversations, starting with updates on our accessibility and structural renovations, planned for this summer.  Please join Karma’s Board and Building Committee on Tuesday, February 15, 2022 at 7:00-7:30 PM to hear plans for making our entrance accessible and safeguarding our building’s structural integrity. There will also be an opportunity for community members to make suggestions that will be considered by the Building Committee. 

To register for the February Karma conversation, please click on this link and complete the form: 

Your registration will help us plan a successful community meeting.

Stay tuned for our March and April conversations regarding our 50th Anniversary celebrations, and Marketing and Communications’ plans and strategies for 2022-23. 

Happy New Year, fellow members!

Author: Andrea Dawber, President
Tagline: Your 2021-22 Board of Directors wishes you and your family well for the year ahead.

Your 2021-22 Board of Directors wishes you and your family well for the year ahead. We have been busy making plans for an engaging 2022. If you have any suggestions for the Board or Committees, please send us your thoughts and inspirations to

Photo Credit: Kelly Sikkema from Unsplash

A Ray of Hope for Workers in the Banana Industry?

Author: Nathalie Rémond, for the Food issues Committee

Tagline: The banana industry is still a violent place for many but recent decisions by Longo’s and an Ecuadorian court are positive developments.

Photo by: Giorgio Trovato from Unsplash

A few years ago, in May 2018, Karma co-sponsored the printing of a paper from Bananaland, which aimed at educating the public on the impacts of the banana industry. It offered a summary of the long, violent and cruel history of this industry in Latin America, with the hope of reminding the readers that the choices that we make here as consumers have big impacts on the lives of the farmers and communities where the goods are sourced. That is why grocery shops like Karma support and empower banana workers by carrying Fairtrade certified bananas; a bold choice in a city where we have seen other food retailers cynically post claims such as “paying more for bananas is bananas”.

2021 has brought a couple of changes that may be seen as a ray of hope in the otherwise still so dark overall situation for workers in the banana industry. In May, Karma’s banana importer Equifruit entered a partnership with Longo’s, which has made them the first major North American retailer to commit to selling 100% Fairtrade-only bananas throughout their 36 stores. This is a landmark decision towards more sustainable practices in the banana industry and a recognition that increased customer awareness can make change happen.

Another positive change came from Ecuador, the country that supplies about a third of all the bananas commercialized in the world, including Karma’s. In May, a court judgement acknowledged for the first time in Ecuador the right to form a union representing members from different companies in the same industry sector. It also ordered the Ministry of Work to register the banana workers’ union Asociación Sindical de Trabajadores Agrícolas y Campesinos (ASTAC). This organization of about 1500 workers across Ecuador focusing on labour rights, health and safety issues, and environmental impacts in the banana sector had never before been able to get registered nationally by the Ministry of Work in spite of a claim to the International Labour Organization (ILO), which granted it recognition in 2017, and again in 2019.

This court judgement is also an important step forward. In long-lasting conflicts involving violence, change will only come if all the stakeholders do their part.

Source: https://www.pichincha

Take a Taste of Karma’s Discounts!

By Emma Broderick

While browsing Karma’s produce section, you may have noticed the small bins of wilted greens, overripe fruit, bruised apples and the like that lie under our member table. With our thirty percent discount, members can buy produce here and save money and some of Karma’s beloved fruits and veggies! For those of you looking to use up old produce in creative ways, I have compiled this list to help get you started. 

Even for those of you who typically stray away from our discount section, this article can help you use up all your fresh produce before it goes bad. Learning how to use up all your produce is vital in the fight against food waste. In fact, as per the City of Toronto, the average single-family household throws away over 200 kg of food waste a year with a large part of it, 45 kg a year, being fruit and vegetables. So, if you want to save yourself some money and reduce your own household food waste, read on!

Bake It!

If you’d like to get into some baking this fall season, there are a number of ways to use up some less-than-perfect produce. Overripe pears and apples work perfectly for pies, crumbles, cobblers, and crisps. In the summertime, Karma’s nectarines, apricots, peaches, plums, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are yummy additions to these dishes as well. Applesauce and apple butter are also great options for our reduced apples and you can use your scraps for some homemade apple cider vinegar. Any of the above fruits can work in quick breads like cakes, brownies, cookies, banana breads, muffins, pancakes, scones, and zucchini breads along with discount bananas, mangoes, and zucchinis. 

Spread It!

Spread the news… our discounted produce works great in a variety of spreads! Discounted basil or leafy greens like spinach and kale can make a tasty pesto. For jams, you can use nectarines, apricots, peaches, and plums as well as strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Oranges, grapefruit, and lemons are great for a nice and sweet marmalade and old tomatoes are delicious in salsas. If you’re in the mood for some hummus, you can use some of our carrots, beets, and bell pepper or some eggplant for baba ganoush. 

Blend It!

You can’t write an article about using up old produce without mentioning the classic: smoothies! Any of our fruits (and especially our bananas) or greens can be blended into a healthy and tasty smoothie. If you have a sweeter tooth, you can make milkshakes and ice cream using old bananas or mangoes. 

Tomato Tomahto: How to Use ‘Em up!

I dedicated a whole section to discount tomatoes because they can be used for such a wide variety of dishes! Tomato sauce, tomato vinaigrette, tomato soup, gazpacho, bruschetta, and ketchup are all great options for older tomatoes. Have no fear of the wrinkly tomato: the options are limitless!

Don’t Forget Your Greens!

See some wilted or sad-looking greens before you? No need to worry! So many meals are still possible. Old greens like arugula, chard, kale, and spinach can be sauteed and act as a great compliment to a meal. These greens can also be chopped up and stirred through a hot pasta or risotto or made into a nice green soup (lettuce soups are especially useful!). Old broccoli and asparagus work nicely in a frittata, quiche, or omelette. 

Clean It Up!

Now that you’ve done all this cooking, it’s time to clean up! Believe it or not, you can still use our discounts while keeping your kitchen squeaky clean. Old citrus can help clean out your microwave so no leftovers get too messy. Lemon and orange peels can also clean out your garbage disposal and leave your kitchen smelling fresh. Finally, a thin layer of lemon or lime juice will clean up your cutting board after all that chopping in the kitchen! 

As we all know, food waste is a growing issue globally and locally. Hopefully through utilizing this list and sharing your own ideas with other Karma members, we can find ways to reduce our own contribution in fun and creative ways.