We are a fruit- and veggie-loving family, but when we load up on produce, I try not to do it at the big box grocery stores around here. The average price of produce is just too high at Safeway, Save-On, Buy Low and the like. I read the flyers for the loss leaders and in-season specials, but when I really need to stock up on veg I try to go to one of the local specialty produce stores for better selection, price and quality.
Langley Farm Market, on Kingsway just past 10th, is probably my favourite produce place to visit. The quality is always really good, and their prices are usually very competitive. They also carry meat, some dairy and bakery items, and a few shelves of pantry items – comes in handy when you need to pick up milk along with salad fixings. Downsides: grocery carts need loonies, not the usual quarters, aisles are cramped, and carts are stored in a spot that is exposed to the elements, so if it rains the cart is too soaked for my toddler to ride in.
Kin’s Farm Market in Royal City Centre is another good option. Some items can be more expensive than Langley Farm, but it can be convenient to stop in while uptown. Kin’s has only baskets (no carts), charges for bags, and doesn’t sell milk or most other non-produce staples that I buy.
Donald’s Market in River Market is usually less expensive than Save-On and the like. When food is close to the end of its sell-by date they often cut the price significantly. This means you have to check dates on any good deals, but if you are able to preserve it for later or eat it right away, you can get some great discounts. Donald’s isn’t really set up well for a big family grocery shop (small carts, small aisles, parking far away) but I like going there when I need more than just produce but I’m not in need of a big stock-up shop yet.
Joy Farm Market on 8th Ave at 10th St (near Moody Park) has some of the cheapest prices in town, but you have to really scrutinize the goods before you buy. Source of some of the woodiest peaches, sourest mangoes and mushiest apples I’ve been unfortunate enough to buy. BUT, as long as you are careful you can get some really fantastic deals on price.
Denny’s Farm Market, on 6th Ave across from Save-On also has good prices and sometimes variable quality. I found the layout of the store awkward when shopping with a stroller, and when I have the car, parking isn’t the greatest. I don’t shop at Denny’s often, but it is a good option if you are in the area and without small children.
Freshico in the complex next to Safeway at McBride and 8th Ave is one I haven’t tried yet, but I have heard a number of people say it’s a good spot for fresh food.
Finally, The Royal City Farmers Market deserves a mention. It is definitely not the cheapest option for some foods, and the seasonal variability means you can’t necessarily count on finding the food you hoped at the price you wanted to pay. But during the sweet spot of the season when the harvest is abundant and the sun is shining, it’s a pretty excellent place to be. Sometimes bulk buying specials are available for canners if you approach the farmer with a proposal to buy a very large quantity of produce in one go, and depending how your family eats, a community supported agriculture (CSA) bin can be a more affordable way to eat local.
Did I miss any? Where is your favourite spot to buy produce?