Fresh produce in Calgary?
Where do you get your produce from?
We're Safeway shoppers for the most part, but lately the berries have been horrid. Twice now we've been duped and brought home what seemed fine, only to be forced to throw them out within a day or two. :(
I'm assuming that the farmers' markets are good places and I know that anything I've ever bought from the Calgary's Farmers' Market has been good, but we're certainly not regulars.
I figured I'd throw out the question and see if there are any hidden gems that I might be unaware of!
I'd second DJ's, once you get to know the owners a bit, they'll let you know what is great and not so great. They are the only place I've found that gets wild mushrooms often and in good shape.
In the heat of the summer their produce sometimes do suffer but they get a pretty high turnover so generally there's always something that is very fresh.
Forget the grocery stores for produce - they are too expensive. And even if it looks good, it never lasts as long as that from the farmer's markets. I also prefer Crossroads to CFM. I think CFM is more expensive for produce but still great products. CFM and Millarville are fun places if you have a leisure day to poke around. I myself, am on a mission to buy my weekly produce and get out of there! I've tried DJ's too and have found to be hit and miss. But great deals on the 'hits' for sure.
Frankly Safeway's "freshness guarantee" (or whatever they're calling it) isn't worth the paper it's printed on. I gave up on Safeway produce when I picked up a container of cherry tomatoes that had a number of fuzzy ones. Tonight I saw Peaches from NIAGRA at Superstore. WHY would I buy some sad little peach (they were past their prime) from across the country when I can get BC Peaches just about anywhere (but Superstore apparently).
Lately I've been shopping the smaller farmers markets - Grassroots (Northland Mall) on Tues, Hillhurst on Wed. Innisfail Growers and Blush Lane (both of which are also at CFM) are both top quality and both are at Grassroots.
If you google Innisfail Growers and Blush Lane you'lll find their homepages... There are a number of local growers within an hour or so of YYC who sell phenomenal produce at farm's gates and upicks. We took the kids up to Edgar Farms and Pearson's Berry Farm awhile ago...they were thrilled. Loads to see and a whole lot more enriching than the grocery store. Is it as quick as doing errands? No, but it's definitely a cheap outing. dee Hobsbawn-Smith's "Shop Talk" has been in our van all summer :)
ditto Grassroots -- don't do the main supermarkets during the summer. Grassroots has really grown from when they first started and with the kids it's an easy stop with good parking. CFM is starting to get too crazy for us, especially since our little one started walking.
Pearson's Berry Farm is a blast, but we get our berries down by the Bow River *shhhhhhh* officially you're not supposed to pick, but we get a couple of small containers only for a pie and that's it. If in the Berry Farm area, Buffalo Horn Ranch offers private tours. The family went last year and it was a great outing to add to the Berry Farm.
Amaranth as got in some amazing organic watermelon -- a bit pricey but I haven't seen this freshness or quality since we lived in Ontario; like fresh off the field. Wonderful stuff!!!!
Went to Crossroads last Friday.
1. Yellow BC cherries. Very crisp and tasty.
2. BC Peaches. Juicy and excellent taste.
3. Alberta fava beans, the freshest I have ever bought except for those I picked myself.
4. Elongated beets from the Hutterites, haven't tried yet.
5. Fresh pimento peppers, haven't tried yet.
Prices are very good on everything.
Oh and though off topic, the cheese vendor has an absolutely excellent selection, AND a cooler of near or past due date cheeses with very low prices. The best thing is, the cheeses are probably at their peak at that point in time.
Also OT, there is a fish vendor from BC operating out of a truck at the back of the market, with several products not usually seen in local markets. Not cheap though.
Going back soon
re: Scary Bill
Be very careful on the cheeses, at the back cooler, that are near past due. I've had some hits and misses on those. Some have been perfect others rotten with in a couple days.
I purchased some BC halibut cheeks from the Fish truck in July. They were excellent and never found around here. I think it was about $17 for enough for 3 people. A little pricey but isn't most fish in Calgary?
Agreed, care is required. I would not buy any that seemed to be too far gone, and I would not buy any that I did not expect to consume within a few days.
I wondered about the cheeks as I am a fan of cod cheeks.
I find that Costco is pretty good pricing for fish here though you have to buy a large quantity and I'd rather not freeze fish fillets. Also Superstore often has very good pricing on lobster, but right now that is also a function of poor demand, with lobstermen getting less than $4 per lb. Oyster pricing is not bad either.
You can find Halibut cheeks at Northsea Fish Market. We got a wild coho from them last week; it was positively amazing. Superstore sometimes has halibut cheeks, but it seems their excellent seafood manager at the Edgemont store has moved on. Fish quality there has gone downhill :o( Thus, I bite the bullet and drive to Northsea.
For sure, California is heads and shoulders above us in growing season and availabilty. I was buying fresh local fruits and veggies over the Christmas holidays at the Silverlake Market in LA. It amazed me what was available there in winter.
If you are downtown at all on a thursday then check out the stand that sets up outside the Glenbow museum on 8th ave at 1 st. SE. They sell BC produce and everything I have bought there has left me happy. Not to forget the convenience of being able to buy good produce on my break, rather than having to travel down to one of the markets.
Produce in Calgary generally seems to suck (at least since I started making business trips to California's Central Valley, and this vacation to the okanagan.)
I recommend spud.ca for weekly deliveries. Their carrots and green beans are head and shoulders above anything I can pick up at a supermarket. Their other stuff is generally better quality than Safeway, but not always. For tomatoes, sometimes the Italian grocers can help out.
Before spud, I used to go to sunnyside market http://www.sunnysidemarket.ca/ and compare its produce with the safeway across the street.
Farmer's markets sadly don't fit into my schedule, but weekly delivery does.