As much as I love helping out with the children’s cooking classes on Saturday mornings, I have to admit that Evergreen Brick Works isn’t located in the most accessible place. It’s located in the Don Valley where the Don Valley Parkway and Bayview intersect. It can be very tricky to find for first time visitors (I attribute this to being part of its charm but many would argue) and since it’s located a bit off the grid, the only way to access it is to either drive, bike, walk or rely on a very infrequent public transportation system that sends busses out every 30 minutes. I have been known to miss the bus on more than one occasion – including today. I decided that I’d better pick up a quick coffee and bite to eat before heading to Brick Works where I would be volunteering (entertaining kids no less) for the next two hours.
I can be quite the coffee snob and although one of my favourite independent coffee shops (Broadview Espresso) is in the area, the last time I went there it took over 10 minutes for me to get my latte (and hence, missed the bus that time as well). I’m all about supporting independent enterprises but when I have a bus to catch I’m all about efficiency. This time, realizing that time was short, I decided to go to the McDonald’s around the corner for my morning snack.
When I arrived a Brick Works, I have to admit, I felt a little out-of-place walking in with a McDonald’s coffee and muffin but didn’t really think anything of it. However, once I arrived in the kitchen and placed my McDonald’s bag on the table, one of the Brick Works staff members pointed at it and said “What is that?!”
Yup, that’s right. I got called out on my McDonald’s. At first, I didn’t realize the reason behind the outburst. Is it because it’s corporate? Or branded? Or against the slow food movement? I later told this story to a fellow volunteer and she laughed saying “Don’t you realize where you are?” She then went on to tell me how there was a situation where someone brought a box of Tim Horton’s donuts to a potluck event and how people were making fun of it the entire evening. I guess there are better things to bring to a potluck (a farmer’s market potluck no less) but is it really that big a deal?
However, a little bit later I came across a sign that explained everything.
Ah, I see! I’m pretty sure that McDonald’s is in violation of several of those statements: regional, seasonal, sustainable food production…family farms and artisanal businesses…fair prices, fair profits and fair treatment of workers….caring for the Earth. Whoops!
I think the next time I’m running late, I’ll quickly down my coffee and eat my muffin on the bus and destroy all evidence before walking into Brick Works.
I do shop at farmer’s markets in the summer when it’s superior quality and certain ingredients are in season that aren’t necessarily available in the larger grocery stores (zucchini blossoms come to mind). I also participate in the Good Food Box program through FoodShare where I get a box of fruits and vegetables delivered to me every other week. I’m all about buying from local, smaller establishments when the product is good and the price reasonable. I even shop at St. Lawrence Market each week because of the variety and quality of products and the fact that I learn so much from the market vendors when I go there. However, my philosophy has always been that I will buy wherever there is good quality and service (whether it be from at the farmer’s market or the supermarket). Brick Works definitely has a strong environmental mission so I can see it appealing to a certain audience – one that really wants to put their dollars toward saving planet earth and making responsible choices by choosing to buy from vendors who share the same values.
But for me, it’s really hard to beat the McDonald’s coffee and muffin for $1.39 deal (especially when I have a bus to catch).