Bulk food in Calgary
I lived in Calgary previously, but have been living in Ontario for the last few years. In Ontario there is a store, The Bulk Barn, which has all bulk food ever needed. I have asked family members in calgary if there is something like this in Calgary, as we are moving back and cannot live without it, but they had no answers.
Does anyone know the 'bulk' situation in Calgary? Where to get different flours, spices, nuts, etc?
We don't have anything like the Bulk Barn (as I understand it), but the bulk section at Superstore is pretty good. It has some spices, pasta, grains, chocolate, candy, dry soup mixes, trail mixes, dried fruit, nuts, and baking ingredients.
The quality of the chocolate ranges from cheap chocolate chips to pieces of Callebaut slabs and Callebaut callets. The Callebaut chocolate always seems a bit old as it has bloomed but it is still fine for baking and chocolate-making. I think that the chocolate is a pretty good indicator of the quality and variety of the rest of Superstore's bulk selection.
I'm intrigued by this Bulk Barn concept. Was it an entire store dedicated to selling food in bulk? What sort of things could you buy that you wouldn't or couldn't get elsewhere?
Yes the entire store is set up with food in bulk- there are different aisles- baking (sugars, flours, chocolate, baking chips (pb, butterscotch)); cooking basic (different pre-made mixes, salts, soup mixes); all kinds of rice, pastas, cereals, dried fruits...obviously I quite enjoy the store and purchase a few things there. I didn't even mention my two favourite aisles, one of candy and one of chocolate. Another great thing is they always have holiday things in bulk- right now there are 12 or so different drums of Easter goodies.
Well now that I have talked up the store a bit too much, hopefully that answers any questions and maybe inspires some more answers about where in Calgary this sort of thing is available.
I was recently in Ottawa and was surprised to be met by my friends at the airport -- until they admitted that part of the trip was to go to the Bulk Barn!
Most major grocery chains have a bulk section containing a mix of many of the things you mention; the larger suburban locations may have better bulk selection, but the inner city stores (e.g. Kensington and Beltline Safeway) have reasonable bulk sections as well; I'd guess maybe a hundred items or so? Mostly candy, nuts, snack foods and a few raw ingredient type things. There's usually Christmas and Easter seasonal stuff, IIRC.
Depending what you want or need, you might want to try:
Community Natural Foods - there's one on 10th Ave SW near 14th St and a second one near Chinook - these guys have awesome selections of bulk food, with an emphasis on natural foods (e.g. organic, vegan, etc.) Loads of flours, grains, beans, dried fruit, but also some stuff like pasta. Sure, they're a little hippy-dippy, but they have stone ground cornmeal and steel cut oats, which earns my loyalty right there. Mostly raw/natural type foods, rather than a lot of gummy bears or Oreos or what have you.
Lina's Italian Market - on Centre Street near 24th Ave N, has a smallish bulk selection, but it contains a good range of bulk Italian spices. I was there with my mom recently, and she wondered why I was buying such a large amount of dried rosemary (maybe a good handful), until we got to the counter and I had to pay like 50 cents. There's another Italian market a couple of blocks away; I've never been, but I wouldn't be surprised if they had bulk as well.
Nutter's in Canmore, specializes in natural bulk foods, nothing like the bulk barn though. I think your best bet as already mentioned is: Comunity Natural Foods / Planet Organic Market / and Superstore.
* If you are looking for ethnic spices I have found a jewel near my house called Spice Land (on Fairmont Dr SE) They have a huge selection of mainly Indian Spices, but also fresh herbs, rices, lentils, etc. My favorite finds were fresh CURRY LEAFS, fresh paneer, and the largest selection of indian spice mix's and curry pastes I've come across.
the bulk barn is brilliant. every time i go to visit my mom i stock up on spices.
i wonder if they're open to franchising in the west???