Food for thought from The Sweet Potato

Digs Dorfman, an organic grocer, opened a second location of Sweet Potato at 1678 Bayview. Photo MJ Crawford.
Digs Dorfman, an organic grocer, opened a second location of Sweet Potato at 1678 Bayview. Photo MJ Crawford.

While much attention is paid to the mantra “health is wealth,” it’s hard not to look past the other obvious truth that unfortunately, in many cases, “wealth is health.”

With the high cost of non-processed foods like fresh produce and proteins, healthy food options are often inaccessible to many in society struggling with food insecurity.

This was a reality Digs Dorfman discovered as a university student doing his own grocery shopping. Dorfman’s mother had been, as he notes, “really into organics and health foods way ahead of the major trends.”

Shopping with a limited budget, he felt that “healthy food was the privilege of the wealthy.”

As the grandson of a produce purchaser, it was no surprise that Dorfman ended up in the grocery business. Working his way from shelf-stocking in the summers to running weekend markets, Dorfman eventually opened his own store, The Sweet Potato, in The Junction neighbourhood in Toronto in 2007.

After much anticipation, with signs heralding its imminent arrival, in May of 2023, the organic grocer opened a second location of Sweet Potato at 1678 Bayview. 

As a student at Northern Secondary School, Dorfman spent a lot of time with friends in Leaside. Opening a store on Bayview was a natural fit as he “loved the fact that there are so many other independent businesses on Bayview.” He also wanted to set up shop in a spot that was so obviously community-centric.

Dorfman’s vision has been the same since day one: to provide local, organic produce and other healthy food at affordable prices.

To source the most local and fresh produce, Dorfman purchases from Ontario farmers. If items are not available in Ontario, he then looks to farmers in other provinces and, as an infrequent choice, sources items from the U.S.

The store has a wide variety of fruits and vegetables along with dry goods, health and beauty items, frozen and bulk foods. It also has a large selection of cheeses, the vast majority of which are from Ontario and Quebec.

The store’s head chef, previously with Oliver and Bonacini Hospitality, also offers prepared takeaway foods including soups, meat pies, quiches, Asian and Indian dishes, rotisserie chicken, baked goods, and more. There are multiple options for those with dietary restrictions including gluten and lactose free foods.

Not just organically focused, Dorfman is also committed to environmentally responsible business practices. Working with local farmers as well as other local businesses keeps emissions lower.

Additionally, the store provides glass bottles for cold-pressed juices which can be returned for a refundable deposit. Prepared meals are provided in containers which can be returned for sanitizing by a local company and reused.

The waste reduction through this circular system, notes Dorfman, “is phenomenal!”

The Sweet Potato, says the grocer, focuses on connecting Torontonians with their local food system in a way that will allow all to access healthy food without breaking the bank. And that’s food for thought.

 

About Susan Scandiffio 156 Articles
Susan Scandiffio was born in Scotland and raised in Toronto. While she holds a master’s degree in history, her main passion (besides her wonderful family) is sports. Susan can often be found at the A.C.C. or in a Leaside arena or playing field, scoping out stories for Leaside Life.