Your Guide To Local Shopping
As per request, here's a rundown of what I buy where.
Vegetables & Eggs
Madrona Farm - Blenkinsop Road, 1/2 km past Galey heading north, on the east side of the road. They just had kale, parsnips, leeks and garlic this week but you know, you can do a lot with those. Come March there will be more leafy stuff. Open Wed-Sat at 11, don't be late.
Dan's Country Farm Market - Oldfield Rd, just before Oldfield Orchard going north. By some miracle, they still have local carrots, cabbage, leeks, beets, turnips, brussel sprouts, and celeriac. They also carry local potatoes, onions, garlic, squashes, apples, kiwis, eggs, chicken (sometimes, but not til May now - it's fantastic and well worth getting) and frozen chicken sausage (which I don't like, but whatever) and honey (Babe's). They have some frozen soft fruits (raspberries at the moment) and fresh apple juice. Not everything is local, but the local stuff is labeled. Also, delicious baked yummies, which are not local, but are tasty. Prices are so good, you'll wonder why you ever bought produce at Thrifty's. Open Wed-Sun regular hours. In summer they have loads and loads of everything including fruit.
Red Damsel Farm - West Saanich Rd, just before The Red Barn. It's on the left, there's a sign. At the moment they just have eggs, but they're really good, even if they are $5/doz (that's still cheaper than comparable eggs in grocery stores.) Open Fri-Sat at the moment. In summer and fall they have produce, which is varied and good.
Food Roots Pocket Markets - see website for locations and times (note: there is one at the new Fol Epi/Caffe Fantastico location at Dockside Green that is not listed on Saturday mornings.) They have local collards, kale, chard, beets, turnips, apples & pears, eggs, plus other goodies. Not everything is local, but the people running them are pretty knowledgeable about where everything comes from so you just have to ask. It's a great concept and it's nice to support this organization.
Red Barn at Mattick's Farm - local beef, lamb, pork (Hertel's, so not completely organic and dubious ethically, but not going to kill you AND they do roasts with the rind on), chicken, duck. Also non-local bison and elk. The sausages are good. Check the freezer before you look at the fresh stuff, there are often very good deals in there. The butcher will be able to tell you what's pastured and what's not. Sometimes they switch to Alberta beef so you have to keep your eyes open, but it seems in the winter they use Quist Farms beef.
Choux Choux Charcuterie - local pork products, including bacon and ham (check the labels to see what's made in-store). They use Sloping Hill pork which is not only local, but ethically, healthily raised and good for you. They have rabbits (frozen) from Saanich but all their duck is Fraser Valley farmed. You can get lard as well, and sometimes eggs, which are good but overpriced. If you're feeling rich you can order grass-fed beef and venison through them too.
Pepper's Market - Cadboro Bay Village. They carry Cowichan Bay Farms chicken, Farmhouse Chicken (which is processed in the same facility, but is factory-farmed if that bothers you), and Sloping Hill Pork (check labels, it isn't always Sloping Hill.)
Market On Yates - best selection of local cheeses, plus the really good Jerseyland Farms unhomogenized yogurt, which is not quite local but makes up for it by being really delicious.
Ambrosio Markets - Cadboro Bay, Oak Bay, Cook St. Village, James Bay. Local produce when they can get it, they try their best. Come March there will be local hothouse tomatoes & cukes, loads of local stuff, especially soft fruits, in the summer. Decent prices but not as cheap as buying from the farms.
Plenty Epicurean Pantry - Fort St between Vancouver & Cook. They carry some of the TrueGrain stuff from Cowichan Bay. Apparently you can also buy direct from TrueGrain.
Other stuff: I buy Island Farms or Avalon Organic butter from Thrifty's, plus Island Farms homogenized milk for Stirling's tea and coffee cream for me. I also sometimes buy cheese there for convenience, they have some of the Natural Pastures cheeses and we really like those.
Last year we went halfsies with a friend on some pork and a side of beef. It's almost gone, so I'll need to look for something along those lines again when it's available. I will keep the blog posted. I liked the pork we got but the beef wasn't great, it was from an animal that was too young and hadn't been aged enough and didn't have much flavour - also I think it had been frozen too slowly because it seemed to lose an inordinate amount of juice when thawed. But, it's edible, and cheap, and conveniently located in the freezer.