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Thread: Food quality in BC Canada page

  1. #1
    eig's Avatar
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    Food quality in BC Canada

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    Hi all! I'm spending the summer on Vancouver Island and I am a little surprised at the lack of health food stores in my area. I live in a bit of a hippie town in AZ (whaaa? hippies!? ...in AZ!?! Its sad but true... ) so I'm used to having stores that have all the good stuff; grass fed beef, butter and ghee, lamb, pasture raised chicken, local and heirloom varieties of veggies, there's even a store (our favorite) that specifically advertizes stuff to paleo folk (I like to think they put the lamb on sale just for us haha).

    Here though, the only local "farmers" market, which is more like a health food store, says nothing about weather or not veggies are organic, they don't seem to know anything about them and they did not know how the beef they have (which is from Alberta) is fed either. I couldn't find any info about what they're fed on their website. The fat looks yellow on some of it but not all. I also can't find pasture raised chickens, although luckily everyone has a sign in their back yard for pastured eggs which I now buy and LOVE. I've been sticking to wild caught salmon a lot because its obviously fine but you can only eat so much fish, ya know? In short; I am not entirely certain of the quality of most the stuff I'm eating and was hoping someone out there is from Canada and knows more about the quality of the stuff that isn't labeled organic but only local? Does Island Farms Dairy ever feed their cattle grains? I've seen them grazing but can't find anything on their site about it. Also, if the fat is yellow, can I just assume its grass fed even if it doesn't say?
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    It sounds like you're pretty rural...try stocking up when you're in Victoria or Vancouver?

    - The 'organic' designation is a lengthy, expensive process and simply out of reach for many smaller-scale growers. But any reputable grower should be willing to go over their practices if you ask.

    - There is great beef in the BC interior and Fraser Valley. You can buy direct at the Vancouver farmers markets, but I don't know if they sell on the Island. At any rate, check out Eat Wild - Canada and see where people are selling or arrange an order.

    - BC cows (and Alberta cows, for that matter) likely aren't going to be 100% grass-fed because we get winter...

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    Where on the island are you, exactly? You may not find health food stores, definitely not WF or TJ's, but even in the middle of Victoria there are farms that sell fresh eggs, dairy, meat and produce.
    Get out in town and talk to local people - they're Canadian, so they're friendly!
    Find out where and when outdoor farmer's markets are open - they may be only a once-a-week thing, though. And the above poster is right - local producers may not call their products organic simply because they haven't been certified as such due to the huge expense.
    As for Alberta beef not likely to be 100% grass-fed/finished because of winter, the dozen or so suppliers I know of within an hour of Calgary would beg to differ.

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    Thanks for the help you guys! Lol, can you tell I'm an Arizonan since long winters never occurred to me? I'm actually on the gorge, north west-ish of Victoria proper. Its not rural here, more like suburban, but we spend a lot of time with our friends up the island where we get the eggs out of peoples back yards and see the island dairy cows. The "farmers" markets I've been to so for in town as well as out there have often had imported stuff; as in Mexico watermelons and California strawberries, which is why I am questioning the quality. The stuff I've been buying says "local" and nothing else. I suppose I should talk to some local Canadians and ask the growers, maybe Ill ask at the store I usually go to if there are any other good places for fresh produce. I did ask them about the beef and they did not know. I also asked our friends but they unfortunately do not care about food quality and they had no clue. They just said Fairways was the best store but I thought the other market I found that called itself a farmers market was better, they at least have stuff labeled local.
    "...You sort of start thinking anything's possible if you've got enough nerve.” -Ginny

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    http://www.islandfarmfresh.com/markets/

    http://www.birdsofafeather.ca/events...armers-markets

    Depending on the season, the farmer's markets there (here, everywhere) do have to bring stuff in...you aren't going to find local watermelons in early June - it was still winter two months ago.
    When I'm in Victoria I get most of what I need from the Red Barn Market - there are a few locations around town.
    I'd skip the Island Farms stuff, they're basically just like any other big ass dairy cooperative, though I f*cking love their cream cheese. Look for Avalon dairy products - it's from the mainland but it's all certified organic, happy cow stuff. Just know you WILL NOT find raw dairy, it's illegal in the whole country. You can hop down to WA and bring back $20 worth duty free if you want some that bad.
    I have to say - I'm pretty jealous you'll be spending all summer there. What brings you - work, school, fun?

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    Thanks for the links! I didn't mean I wanted to find watermelons here that are local, just that I noticed more than half the stuff at the "local" market wasn't local at all and said nothing about organic or not. I do shop at the Red Barn whenever I can, the nearest one is still a little far. I like them the most of what I've seen but they still have very little organic, almost none really, no grass fed beef at all either. They carry local strawberries though, just had the first of the season this last week. Thats sad to hear about Island Farms, their cows look so happy in the field. I just wanted some grass fed butter for my fiancé, I'm lactose intolerant actually and don't eat/drink any dairy. Some grass fed ghee would be nice too (though I can of course make that if I could find the butter). I'm actually here because my fiancés family is Canadian so we're visiting them and old family friends. He just graduated with his masters and I'm a grad student and teacher, so we both have the summer free and are just enjoying ourselves here :-) It is beautiful here though it has rained these last two days and I am unused to wet. Its sunny now though
    Last edited by eig; 06-16-2014 at 03:59 PM.
    "...You sort of start thinking anything's possible if you've got enough nerve.” -Ginny

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    This is only speculation as I am not Canadian...

    I used to live very near BC south of the border. A lot of Canadians would come down to grocery shop where I worked at the time. I heard this comment a few times over the years, something like:

    "In Canada, we don't label organic produce. Produce is organic. We only label it if it's not."

    Maybe that is why you are having difficulties finding organic food.

    Of course, you can always cross the border and shop at the Trader Joe's in Bellingham, WA. You will have to pay duty, but apparently it's worth it. According to Canadians, American groceries are way cheaper. Canadian customers account for 30% of Whatcom County's income. A few years ago there was an initiative to make BC Canadians tax exempt (because Victorians are); that bill never passed because it would have been such a huge impact on sales tax revenue.
    Stumbled into Primal due to food allergies, and subsequent elimination of non-primal foods.

    Start Gluten-Free/Soy-Free: December 2012; start weight 158lbs, Ladies size 6
    Start Primal: March 2013, start weight 150lbs, Ladies size 6
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    F/23/5'9"

    26lbs lost since cutting the crap.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eig View Post
    Thanks for the links! I didn't mean I wanted to find watermelons here that are local, just that I noticed more than half the stuff at the "local" market wasn't local at all and said nothing about organic or not. I do shop at the Red Barn whenever I can, the nearest one is still a little far. I like them the most of what I've seen but they still have very little organic, almost none really, no grass fed beef at all either. They carry local strawberries though, just had the first of the season this last week. Thats sad to hear about Island Farms, their cows look so happy in the field. I just wanted some grass fed butter for my fiancé, I'm lactose intolerant actually and don't eat/drink any dairy. Some grass fed ghee would be nice too (though I can of course make that if I could find the butter). I'm actually here because my fiancés family is Canadian so we're visiting them and old family friends. He just graduated with his masters and I'm a grad student and teacher, so we both have the summer free and are just enjoying ourselves here :-) It is beautiful here though it has rained these last two days and I am unused to wet. Its sunny now though
    There is no grass fed butter in BC, again it's that whole long winter thing
    As mentioned above Avalon dairy is a good choice for dairy, they have "organic" which is slightly pricier than the regular but in conversations with Avalon they explained the organic and regular cows are treated and fed the same.
    There is also a good goat butter found in the Thrifty stores that is local.
    If you go up island to Qualicum Beach there are some very good health food stores and a good raw (also sadly vegan) restaurant that does a brilliant raw nanaimo bar

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    Quote Originally Posted by kathleen View Post
    This is only speculation as I am not Canadian...

    I used to live very near BC south of the border. A lot of Canadians would come down to grocery shop where I worked at the time. I heard this comment a few times over the years, something like:

    "In Canada, we don't label organic produce. Produce is organic. We only label it if it's not."

    Maybe that is why you are having difficulties finding organic food.
    Seriously? I think you overheard a bunch of idiots. Organic food is labeled as organic in Canada. And I've never seen anything labeled "not organic". That's actually pretty funny.

    I don't know what it's like on the island, I've never spent long periods of time there, but in Alberta and mainland BC you can find organic food pretty much everywhere.

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    Quote Originally Posted by maile1 View Post
    There is no grass fed butter in BC, again it's that whole long winter thing
    As mentioned above Avalon dairy is a good choice for dairy, they have "organic" which is slightly pricier than the regular but in conversations with Avalon they explained the organic and regular cows are treated and fed the same.
    There is also a good goat butter found in the Thrifty stores that is local.
    If you go up island to Qualicum Beach there are some very good health food stores and a good raw (also sadly vegan) restaurant that does a brilliant raw nanaimo bar
    Well thats certainly good to know! No one will sell me Kerrygold here? This is so sad. I suppose we will survive haha.

    I've never had a nanaimo bar, they look like they are likely to have milk in them. That would obviously not be the case at a vegan place, they might be nice to finally try! I have definitely seen some organic stuff but no one place seems to have enough to actually live off of; its like three veggies, tops. There is just not much choice. I'd be willing to buy stuff thats not local if it is organic, but as I've said, mostly I've been buying local because of the serious lack of organic. Red Barn is probably the best for it but I was really hoping there might be other places with more. I will visit the farmers markets listed in the link above, but I have almost decided to just go to the store more often; that way I can visit more than one and get more variety in this way. I have not seen things as labeled non-organic.

    I could also just be more content with less variety too

    As for the meat, do you all just eat Alberta/conventional beef?
    "...You sort of start thinking anything's possible if you've got enough nerve.” -Ginny

    My story: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/i-now...#axzz2MzPtxo00

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