B.good Makes Food with Roots

The first thing you need to know about the lunch that Beth-Anne, Carol and I enjoyed at b.good is that it was delicious.  We sampled a huge array of b.good’s many offerings, and we thought for sure we would be making use of the containers to take home leftovers.

There were no leftovers.

From the crisp Beet Lemonade to the packed-with-health Spicy Avocado and Kale Bowl to the decadent El Guapo Chicken Sandwich, the fries, the sweet potato fries, the Adopted Luke Veggie Burger, we ate it all up and left not a crumb.  The food was amazingly fresh, the flavours were complex, and the plates were very generously portioned.  This alone is ample reason to visit, but we learned so much more about the restaurant that made the meal that much more pleasurable.

We sat down with Meg Folkinga, Director of Marketing and Brand at b.good, to ask her about the restaurant and its mission to bring the consumer healthier options for a quick meal of food made by people not factories.  Meg simply fizzes with enthusiasm about her work, and it was a joy to learn about the triumphs and struggles of making local a priority in the restaurant business.

The motto of b.good is “food with roots,” and your sense of those roots begins as soon as you enter the restaurant.  One wall is covered with a large chalkboard map of Ontario, locating all of the makers whose food is on the menu.  Among them, Hayter’s Farm, a three-generation turkey farm in Dashwood, provides the turkey.  Gwillimdale Farms, a fourth-generation farm in Bradford West Gwillimbury, provides the potatoes (the hand-cut fries taste like real potatoes because they are made with real potatoes!).  Tre Mari Bakery, a family-run operation in business in Toronto for over 50 years, provides the breads, including gluten-free buns.  Real food.  Roots.

There are many options on the menu that cater to those with dietary restrictions.  The vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options are abundant, both on the restaurant menu and the catering menu.  (See the full menu here.) Of course there are decadent options on the menu, but you can also have a filling meal and a glass of wine for less than 500 calories.  All this, and a smaller carbon footprint, too.

B.good aims to source local and organic food as much as possible (the avocados, needless to say, are not local!).  Meg explained that they are constantly looking for new ways to partner with local businesses and to support as many of them as possible.  Although they make their own burgers (beef, salt, nothing else), they have partnered with The Healthy Butcher for the hot dogs on the kids’ menu at the Oakville location.  Now that they are licensed, they are offering local wines and local craft beers.  In the works is a partnership with an urban garden that is growing herbs on Toronto’s rooftops.  They also participate in local food festivals like the Gluten Free Garage.

And the local partnerships do not end with food and drink.  B.good’s mission to build community adds giving back to local charities to supporting local buinesses and growers.  B.Good partners with charitable organizations in the community to help feed those in need and spread the word about healthy eating.  The Front Street and King Street locations are partnered with Regent Park Community Food Centres, which creates access to healthy food for low-income Canadians with a range of programs including community meals, community advocacy, food skills, community gardens, and a festival called Taste of Regent Park.  The Queen Street location works with VIBE Arts, which provides children and youth in under-resourced communities with high-quality community and school based arts education.  Together, they are creating murals for school lunchrooms that promote good nutrition and sustainability.  Finally, the Oakville location is partnered with The Kerr Street Mission, helping low-income and at-risk families and youth with immediate food support needs through both a food bank operation and a community meal program. From the b.good app, consumers can also donate directly to the charitable partners or donate their rewards.

When I asked Meg about what she wishes people knew about the benefits of eating local, she said that for people like her with dietary restrictions and food sensitivies, it can be hard to dine out.  B.good makes it both possible and delicious.  “I feel amazing when I eat clean,” she said and joked that when she eats well at b.good she is most “aligned with my job.”

Asked about what she wishes people knew about the challenges of sourcing local food, Meg explains that businesses have to work twice as hard to make it happen.  Even more difficult to overcome is our expectation of perfection and uniformity when it comes to food.  We are so used to uniformity in our produce, but local and organic and in-house food is not perfect because it’s not engineered.  Uniformity is not easy, and it takes patience to make things from scratch.

We can tell you from experience, what you give up in uniformity you gain tenfold in flavour.  We loved our meal and we will all be going back.

With locations in Oakville and in Toronto on King, Queen and Front Streets, and a  new location opening at Yonge and Eglinton, there are plenty of places to try them out!

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I reached out to Meg to ask if I could interview her for Plenty after I stumbled on b.good while running errands.  I ate a delicious roasted squash salad in the middle of winter, and I knew I had to learn more and share their story.  B.good provided the three of us with the lunch over which we wrote this post.  The opinions are our own.

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