Every day thousands of commuters pass by the Ontario Food Terminal as they speed along the Gardiner Expressway. And each day, thousands more eat fruit and vegetables that have passed through its gates.

The OFT has stood at the corner of the Queensway and Park Lawn Road in the city's west end since 1954, but few outsiders have ever had a chance to see inside.

That changed Saturday when the terminal at the heart of Toronto’s food distribution network opened its doors — for the first time ever — at an open house.

The OFT is a hub of activity around the clock but particularly in the early morning weekday hours, before most Torontonians have risen from their beds.

It’s during this time that buyers arrive to pick over truckloads of produce for their stores and restaurants. The action is frantic as busy buyers try to get the best produce at the right price. Some have called it Toronto's stock exchange for fruit and vegetables.

“It's just a hustle and bustle. It's organized chaos,” said farmer Paul Tiveron, who comes to the OFT every morning to sell produce he grows at his farm in Leamington.

More than five million pounds of produce move through the terminal every day.

“There's people, there's vehicles, everything's flying around here in the morning,” he said.

Proceeds from Saturday's open house will go to FoodShare, a charity that supplies schools with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Fill your grocery bags (or start planting) with these fruits, vegetables and herbs for fall:

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  • Apples

    An apple a day should keep the doctor away. According to studies, <a href="http://www.besthealthmag.ca/eat-well/nutrition/15-health-benefits-of-eating-apples" target="_hplink">apples can protect you against Parkinson's disease, decrease your risk of diabetes and keep your teeth stay shiny white</a>, according to Best Health Magazine.

  • Asparagus

    Tasty when roasted or grilled, asparagus is a great source of fibre, folate, vitamins A, C, E, and K, and can <a href="http://www.eatingwell.com/blogs/health_blog/5_powerful_health_benefits_of_asparagus_you_probably_didn_t_know" target="_hplink">help our brains fight cognitive decline, according to EatingWell.com. </a>

  • Arugula

    Tip: Replace your typical romaine salad with arugula instead. This leafy green is filled with vitamins and minerals, and<a href="http://voices.yahoo.com/the-amazing-health-benefits-arugula-4825552.html" target="_hplink"> has been known to protect our bodies from cancers</a>, according to Yahoo News.

  • Artichoke

    Don't choke up on this fact: artichokes can l<a href="http://www.3fatchicks.com/6-health-benefits-of-artichokes/" target="_hplink">ower your cholesterol, improve your liver functions and work as a digestive aid for your body</a>, according to 3FatChicks.com.

  • Basil

    This herb tastes amazing on top of anything: Pastas, fried rice and anything infused with Thai flavours. Basil also<a href="http://www.herbcompanion.com/herbal-living/amazing-health-benefits-of-basil.aspx" target="_hplink"> protects our bodies from premature ageing, common skin issues, and even some types of cancer, </a>according to writer Sarah McCabe.

  • Beet

    Don't let the slightly strange smell and taste fool you. Beets can be <a href="http://www.herbcompanion.com/herbal-living/amazing-health-benefits-of-basil.aspx" target="_hplink">instant energy boosters and have absolutely zero trans and saturated fats</a>, according to Yahoo News.

  • Blackberries

    <a href="http://www.healthdiaries.com/eatthis/8-health-benefits-of-blackberries.html" target="_hplink">Skin health, eye health, bone health and overall women's health</a>: do we need to say more? Blackberries are in season around the end of August and a little bit into September -- so stock up!

  • Blueberries

    Blueberries have been known to boost your immune systems and protect our bodies from<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/08/28/saturated-fats-are-worse_n_1836432.html" target="_hplink"> colds, fevers and other infections. </a>

  • Broccoli

    You probably hated broccoli as a kid, but this doesn't mean you can't start developing a taste for it now. Broccoli is <a href="http://home.howstuffworks.com/broccoli3.htm" target="_hplink">low in calories and high in vitamin A, C and calcium.</a>

  • Brussels Sprouts

    Hated by most taste buds but loved by your body. Brussels sprouts are full of phytonutrients (a natural plant compound) and are a <a href="http://www.cookinglight.com/food/in-season/in-season-brussels-sprouts-00400000001701/" target="_hplink">good source of potassium, iron and fibre,</a> according to CookingLight.com.

  • Beans

    Beans -- or as one writer likes to call them "the undervalued superfood -- are <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/16/beans-health-benefits_n_1792504.html#slide=1391241" target="_hplink">low in fat, good for your heart and packed with protein. </a>

  • Cabbage

    Cabbage is an excellent natural detoxifier that can help purify your blood and <a href="http://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/health-benefits-of-cabbage.html" target="_hplink">remove junk (yes, toxins) lingering in your body. </a>

  • Carrots

    Poor eyesight? Eat a carrot. This orange vegetable has been known to <a href="http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-benefits-of-carrots.html" target="_hplink">improve vision, prevent cancer and even give your skin a natural glow. </a>

  • Cauliflower

    Cauliflower looks like brain -- probably because it's good for your noodle. Packed with <a href="http://www.livestrong.com/article/410151-the-health-benefits-of-cauliflower/" target="_hplink">vitamin C, cauliflower can help improve your skin and brain. </a>

  • Celery

    Want the most of celery? Make a juice. Celery is filled with<a href="http://www.juicing-for-health.com/health-benefits-of-celery.html" target="_hplink"> vitamin A and B vitamins and is known to lower blood pressure. </a>

  • Corn

    Corn -- eaten in small amounts -- is great for your <a href="http://www.boldsky.com/health/nutrition/2012/health-benefits-of-corns-029629.html" target="_hplink">skin, packed with fibre and helps control your cholesterol levels. </a>

  • Cranberries

    It's acidic for a reason. Studies have shown that <a href="http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=145" target="_hplink">cranberries can help with urinary tract infections and can even prevent them. </a>

  • Cucumbers

    Cucumbers contain vitamin C and caffeic acid,<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/08/09/cucumber-water-recipe_n_922703.html" target="_hplink"> two antioxidant nutrients that can help protect the skin from sun damage</a>, according to health and wellness consultant Doug DiPasquale.

  • Eggplant

    If you're trying to lose weight, eggplant is the way to go.<a href="http://www.3fatchicks.com/3-health-benefits-of-eggplant/" target="_hplink"> Full of fibre, eggplant can make you full faster. </a>

  • Garlic

    It may make your mouth stick but garlic can help fight <a href="http://www.ivillage.co.uk/the-health-benefits-garlic/78921" target="_hplink">common colds and protect your body against heart disease</a>. Just don't eat a lot of garlic before you have to meet someone.

  • Green Beans

    The stringy, crunchy bean that is low in calories also helps your <a href="http://www.livestrong.com/article/257290-what-are-the-benefits-of-string-beans/" target="_hplink">body build its immune system and provide you with protein and calcium. </a>

  • Kale

    Steamed or baked (as an alternative to chips) kale can help <a href="http://www.canadianliving.com/blogs/health/2011/04/26/the-health-benefits-of-kale/" target="_hplink">lower cholesterol, is full of vitamin K which helps your bones, and offers anti-inflammatory benefits,</a> according to Canadian Living.

  • Leek

    Best paired with your stock, leeks are full of vitamins and minerals and provides<a href="http://www.3fatchicks.com/5-nutritional-benefits-of-leeks/" target="_hplink"> folate -- an important vitamin during pregnancy. </a>

  • Lettuce

    You've probably seen them in-between your buns or tossed in a summer salad. Lettuce is a <a href="http://www.3fatchicks.com/5-nutritional-benefits-of-leeks/" target="_hplink">super green food that's high in vitamin K and A. </a>

  • Onions

    You won't cry about this one, onions are a surprising source of fibre and can <a href="http://home.howstuffworks.com/onions4.htm" target="_hplink">reduce blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels,</a> according to HowStuffWorks.com.

  • Melons

    Available in August and September, this often sweet and delicious fruit has <a href="http://www.besthealthmag.ca/eat-well/nutrition/the-health-benefits-of-melons?slide=4" target="_hplink">anti-inflammatory benefits and reduces blood pressure. </a>

  • Mushroom

    If you don't like mushrooms -- you're missing out. Besides tasting great on pizzas, pastas and any burger or sandwich, mushrooms are also <a href="http://www.readersdigest.ca/food/diet-nutrition/3-health-benefits-mushrooms" target="_hplink">full of copper and potassium, according to Reader's Digest. </a>

  • Pears

    Pears are known to be natural laxatives and can ease the movement of <a href="http://www.livestrong.com/article/496430-are-pears-good-for-constipation-in-infants/" target="_hplink">stool through the intestines if you're dealing with constipation. </a>

  • Peppers

    Crunchy and sweet in every colour, peppers are a low-cal food option perfect for those <a href="http://www.examiner.com/article/peppers-the-health-benefits-of-green-peppers-and-hot-peppers" target="_hplink">who are trying to lose a few pounds</a>, according to the Examiner.

  • Plums

    In honour of fall, we'd also like to give a shout out to this <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/plum-walnut-crumble_n_1048905.html" target="_hplink">plum and walnut crumble recipe</a>. Plums are good for <a href="http://www.canadianliving.com/blogs/health/2011/08/10/5-health-benefits-of-plums-plus-4-mouth-watering-plum-recipes/" target="_hplink">your bones, eyesight and can help with easier digestion if you're feeling bloated</a>, according to Canadian Living.

  • Potatoes

    To be fair, French fries, mashed potatoes and curly fries (sadly) aren't the best options for enjoying healthy potatoes. One study has shown that eating small amounts of spuds can <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1206765/Why-potatoes-suprising-health-benefit-key-lasting-weight-loss.html" target="_hplink">help you with weight loss and make you feel full faster</a>, according to The Daily Mail.

  • Pumpkins

    Before you carve them for your kids -- try adding some pumpkin in your diet. Pumpkin seeds are full of<a href="http://www.care2.com/greenliving/13-health-benefits-of-pumpkin-seeds.html?page=2" target="_hplink"> vitamin K, E and B groups and are a good source of protein</a>, according to Care2.com.

  • Parsley

    An easy way to add a little kick to your meals, <a href="http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=100" target="_hplink">parsley is high in vitamin K and C. </a>

  • Radishes

    Yes, again, this is another root vegetable that might not taste the best. <a href="http://www.fatburningfurnace.com/blog/radish-nutrition-facts-%E2%80%93-health-benefits-of-radishes" target="_hplink">But radishes are low in calories and high in vitamin C. </a>

  • Raspberries

    Look, the hairy fruit! Raspberries are packed with antioxidants <a href="http://www.canadianliving.com/blogs/health/2011/07/20/4-raspberry-health-benefits-and-4-delicious-raspberry-recipes/" target="_hplink">(at least 50 per cent more than strawberries) that can ward off cancer</a>, according to Canadian Living.

  • Rhubarb

    Great in pies or jam, rhubarb is filled with <a href="Rhubarb" target="_hplink">vitamin C that helps build a stronger immune system to ward of common bugs. </a>

  • Rosemary

    Another fall herb, rosemary is an easy way to add flavour to your meals instead of relying on salt. According to About.com, rosemary also contains a chemical called quinones, which has been shown in to<a href="http://homecooking.about.com/od/foodhealthinformation/a/rosemaryhealth.htm" target="_hplink"> inhibit carcinogens and preventing cancer. </a>

  • Strawberries

    On top of being an essential source of<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/06/strawberries-ultraviolet-radiation-uv-rays-skin_n_1739399.html" target="_hplink"> vitamins A, C and B, new lab research suggests strawberries might also play a part in protecting against dangerous UV rays</a>, according to a study by the University of Barcelona.

  • Spinach

    Tip: If you're kids can't stand the taste of spinach, blend it with your fruit smoothies. Spinach is an <a href="http://www.chatelaine.com/en/article/23258--one-of-the-health-benefits-of-spinach-is-it-can-help-you-relax" target="_hplink">excellent source of calcium, folate and protein</a>, according Chatelaine Magazine.

  • Squash

    A wholesome vegetable for fall, squash can help with <a href="http://www.besthealthmag.ca/eat-well/healthy-eating/6-health-benefits-of-summer-squash?slide=2" target="_hplink">preventing cancer and boost red blood sells,</a> according to Best Health Magazine.

  • Shallots

    No, this is not an onion -- shallots actually have <a href="Have more anti-oxidants, minerals, and vitamins on weight per weight basis than onions." target="_hplink">more antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins compared to onions. </a>

  • Tomatoes

    Huffington Post blogger Dr. Leo Galland says tomatoes can help fight inflammation and are excellent sources of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leo-galland-md/tomatoes-health-benefits_b_886214.html" target="_hplink">potassium and several vitamins including A, C and E. </a>

  • Turnips

    About 51 calories per mashed cup, turnips are full of <a href="http://www.livestrong.com/article/408477-the-health-benefits-of-turnips/" target="_hplink">calcium and potassium, according to LiveStrong.com. </a>

  • Zucchini

    Known as a hydrating vegetable, <a href="http://www.3fatchicks.com/7-health-benefits-of-zucchini/" target="_hplink">zucchinis are full of protein, fibre, potassium and vitamin C. </a>

  • Swiss Chards

    Nerding out? Grab some chards. Swiss chards (which are not actually from Switzerland) are packed with vitamins and <a href="http://www.healthdiaries.com/eatthis/8-health-benefits-of-swiss-chard.html" target="_hplink">minerals to boost brain, bone and hair health</a>, according to Health Diaries.


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