Nude food: the rise of zero waste grocers

October 16, 2017

Bananna_11By all historical accounts, I should really be a grocer. Both my dad’s dad and my mom’s maternal grandparents owned grocery stores in Montreal back in the day. One in the French Canadian neighbourhood of Rosemont, one a Greek import “emporium”, as my aunt Babs proudly calls it, on lower St. Laurent. That was before every handful of produce sold in grocery stores worldwide was bagged in plastic and every slab of meat was cling wrapped on Styrofoam. At Basil Brothers in the 50s, olives and feta were doled out from barrels, pasta and olive oil came in bulk, too. No single use plastic in sight. Fast forward to 2017, and bulk olive oil pouring out of stainless steel faucets is just one of the plastic-free ingredients available at Ottawa’s Nu Zero Waste Grocery Store, where all the food comes, well, nude – or “nu” in French. I write about Nu as well as several other zero waste grocers popping up across Canada in the latest issue of Corporate Knights magazine. You can read the full story here. In the meantime, here are a few pics I snapped while I was at Nu right after its soft opening in August.


Cloth bags, glass jars and other reusable containers can be purchased for your bulk shopping, if you don’t already have some you can bring in from home. Those mesh cloth bags on the bottom shelf are perfect for snagging a bunch of apples or Brussel sprouts – without having to reach for those disposable plastic baggies everyone uses in conventional grocery stores.



So how does it all work, logistically speaking? Just weigh your containers before you fill them up with stuff, then that weight can be deducted from your bill when you go to pay. Easy peasy.


Love the variety of oils, vinegars, even soy sauce and sweeteners like agave syrup that come on tap. Every bulk store and grocery store should really have this.


You’ll find all your usual bulk store spices but sealed tight in glass, instead of in open air bins to keep them fresher longer. Yep, even bulk stores can be wasteful if they end up having to trash tons of stale ingredients.