address: 739 Palmerston Avenue (map)
As a proud foodie without a desire to ignore environmental issues, joining Karma co-op was an obvious choice. The main attractions for me was their commitment to local, organic and food that comes with less packaging.
They carry the typical bulk nuts, flour, quinoa, dried fruits and rice you would expect to find in such a store but they have a number of hard to find items in bulk such as organic spices, eggs, Ontario maple syrup, Ontario Honey and Ontario sunflower oil.
Karma also applies a standard mark-up to all products, meaning that with items other stores under price in order to get you in the door it may not look like you're saving much, but other items are an absolute steal. What I save on the cost of cheese alone easily covers my membership fees. I did a price check in the fall of 2012 and found Karma to be on average 32% cheaper than other stores in the area. They also carry a wider variety of organic produce and bulk goods than any of the other stores.
The fact that Karma is a co-operative means to me that we as a community can contribute to improving the store for everyone. There is, for example, a food issues committee that does research into what products meet with the co-operatives goals. Their existence has certainly alleviated the immense difficulty of figuring out what's real in the food world on my own. They are currently working to make Karma a GMO free store.
After a few years, what has probably proven to have been the best thing about being a member is how I feel in the shop. It might not be as funky as the Sunday afternoons I used to spend walking around kensington picking up my food but it's cozy and comfortable and all the familiar faces seem to have given themselves permission to be friendlier, to bring back their empty bags, egg cartons and jars for others to use...and sometimes even go beyond just being a friendly face and engage you in interesting conversations, share dinners, hold potlucks, and even live together. It's also real nice to be able to hang up your coat and scarf, pour yourself a glass of water and have access to a clean bathroom while you do groceries.