On a sunny Saturday morning in early October, an array of shoppers were lined up at the food court of a busy Toronto neighbourhood.
In a few minutes, they would be seated, some with a cart of their favourite fast food items, others carrying boxes full of organic food.
One of the shoppers was Liza, who lives in the neighbourhood and has been selling organic food since she was a teenager.
She started selling organic fast food at the age of 12, and since then, her family has grown to have eight members, including three children.
But it wasn’t always easy.
Growing up in the city, Liza said she was often told her family was too poor to eat healthy, so they ate fast food.
But now, Lizas children and grandchildren all enjoy organic food and Liza says it’s something that’s been a life-long passion for her.
“I’ve been selling it to my kids and grandchildren for years and years and they love it,” she said.
Liza also hopes her organic fast foods will help boost the food and food-related sector in the province.
“We have a very important part of our food supply that is now being stolen and stolen from us,” she told CBC News.
She said the fast food industry needs to take a serious look at what it is selling to consumers and how to make it better.
“The more organic, the better,” she added.
The Canadian Association of Food Retailers says that in 2016, Canada experienced the biggest increase in organic food sales per capita since the 1960s, with the industry growing at almost 5 per cent a year.
According to the Cascadia Alliance, an industry group that advocates for organic food products, the growth of organic products in the fast-food sector is a key contributor to the overall growth of the Canadian economy.
In the last few years, the number of organic fast-casual restaurants in Canada has more than doubled, from 6,400 in 2014 to 33,000 in 2017.
In Toronto, which is a popular hub for the industry, there are now over 1,400 organic fast casual restaurants.
“They are very popular with the young families,” said John St. Laurent, a spokesperson for the Canadian Association for Food Retailer.
“Their customers are the ones who really care about the quality of their food.”
In 2017, the city of Toronto experienced a surge in food theft, with food stolen from people who did not ask for it and from customers who stole it without asking for it, he said.
“It’s a very common problem in the industry.
There’s a lot of concern around the food-safety issue, and there’s also a lot about the environment, and they’re working to address those.”
Liza and her husband bought organic food for their children and granddaughter for Christmas and are now selling it at their local grocery store, but she said she still has a long way to go.
“People ask me all the time, ‘Where are the organic fast fast food restaurants?'” she said, laughing.
“There’s no such thing.”