I’ve always been a fan of everything to do with healthy lifestyles, and it’s the green markets that make me never want to leave this fine city of Vancouver. It often feels like we’re trapped by consumerism, shopping hastily in supermarkets without knowing much about the food we eat, and many Vancouverites don’t even wonder at the exquisite, fresh produce offered to us every weekend at the city’s many farmers markets. And yet these markets are some of the best places you can shop in Vancouver — not only for their organic food, but also for their chats with local vendors, tasting samples, and the ambiance itself. Knowing where your food comes from is half the battle in this day and age, so go check out Vancouver’s finest farmers markets!
Saturdays, May to October, 2013
9:00 A.M.–2:00 P.M. each week
North parking lot of John Hendry Park at Trout Lake
Between Templeton and Lakewood south of the 13th Avenue Alley
It’s still wintertime, but I can’t wait for the summer to begin. The biggest market that stretches out along the north side of the park in the parking lot will open its gates again this May. Full of local produce, yummy baked goods, meat, cheeses, and everything in between, live entertainment, friendly people, pets (if you’re afraid of dogs, watch out because many of them are unleashed but harmless) and the beautiful lake setting — Trout Lake Farmers Market is a Saturday ritual for Vancouverites, myself included.
Once you come to this market, you’ll never want to go back to your regular grocery store. Sure, the fruits and vegetables are perhaps not the cheapest you’ll get in Vancouver, but it’s nice to know that what we eat wasn’t shipped long distances and preserved to last forever. Everything I buy here is fresh, and there’s so much choice! Personally, I like the idea of supporting local farmers and the local economy. I really don’t mind spending a little extra to keep this going.
Don’t miss the cheese from Little Qualicum. Ray and Judy, who usually run the stall, are very friendly, and tasting their samples will make your decision even harder. My favourite is Rathtrevor and Caerphilly cheese with bread I buy from A Bread Affair. If you’re looking for the world’s best masala chai, look no further. They have it at Trudy Ann’s Bombay Masala Chai. More varieties of pesto than you could ever dream of, La Bohême Crêperie (there will be a line, but it’s worth it), and freshly made Maple syrup candy — these are both also on the top of my list and worth your attention and taste buds too.
What’s really great is that this market offers the Food Scraps Drop Spot. If you’re in a strata or housing complex that doesn’t support composting, you can keep the composting pale in your kitchen and bring it on down to the market.
The Trout Lake Farmers Market is super busy when they open because everyone wants to get first pick and it’s much fresher first thing in the morning. It’s better around noon, but many vendors may already be sold out. Don’t worry if you forget to take cash; you can buy market dollars at the entrance, which you can use at any stands.
Perhaps the only downside is parking, so you’d better walk, bike, or take transit.
Saturdays, November 3, 2012 to April 27, 2013
10:00 A.M.–2:00 P.M. each week
East Parking Lot of Nat Bailey Stadium — 30th & Ontario Street
There’s not much that can get me out of my warm home on a cold winter Saturday, but this market sure is one of them. While every other farmers market has vanished with the cold weather, this one is alive and well. A huge selection of fresh local produce — apples and other fruits, root vegetables, and lots of meats, nuts, eggs, poultry, seafood, cheeses, and bread — you name it and it’s all here in one spot. And that’s just counting the items that aren’t fully prepared already. I can’t forget the food trucks. If you’re hungry (or even if you’re not), grab a bite. Try El Tigre, the Salvadoran truck, or Gelderman Farms Quality Pork. Finish off with an organic coffee from the GoGo Java truck.
Try pâté from Pastiche, Thai’s princess homemade sauce, or olives from Dundarave Olive Company. Make your day sweeter thanks to the Maples Sugar Shack, where they make maple candy on the spot, or High Crow Gluten Free Foods and get the most delicious wildflower honey at Jane’s Honey Bees with you.
My advice (and not only for this market): talk to vendors. They are truly foodies and love to express their culinary expertise. You can learn a lot.
This market is also dog-friendly, but dogs here are usually leashed. It’s too bad this market is quite small (you will have seen everything in half an hour), because it could easily be twice as big.
As the point is to be environmentally conscious, bring your own bag or buy a reusable bag from the information tent. Recycling stations are available here too. Don’t worry about parking; there is plenty of room, but being environmentally friendly still means that you’d better use green transportation.
Sometimes you can feel like this market makes Whole Foods look cheap in comparison. But you do get what you pay for — the quality is hard to find elsewhere in the city. If you don’t want to come and just hang out, be ready to spend at least $30 or (much) more; it’s very hard to resist, and please don’t even try — great, fresh products are what you came for.
Sundays, May to October, 2013
10:00 A.M.–2:00 P.M. each week
2690 Larch Street at 10th Avenue, Parking Lot of Kitsilano Community Centre
Another fair-weather market, this one situated in the parking lot of the Kitsilano Community Centre will open again in May — so don’t worry when you miss the Trout Lake Market on Saturday. This is your Sunday chance to stuff your pantry and fridge with organic goodness. It hosts nearly 50 vendors with an array of both organic and conventional foods, plus you can shop here for very fine select items. Many people come here for their excellent selection of mushrooms — very rare shaggy mane, lobster mushrooms, matsutake, morels. You can cook some interesting dishes with rarities like these!
Speaking of must-buys (these are sold out quickly so be sure to show up early), you can’t miss the heirloom tomatoes, artichokes from GlenValley, biodynamic berries, fresh goat cheese from Salt Spring Island Cheese, and something tasty (try lavender, rosemary, and honey bread) from Pure Bread or Wenger Sheep Farms lamb. Don’t forget to grab a bite from the rotating selection of food trucks (I recommend a handmade tacos at Off the Wagon — try the pulled pork with citrus slaw and some habanero salsa). If you love to bake, then your attendance at the apple pie baking contest is another must.
Look for deals; there is always something, and as a member you can see many special deals go up at the start of each month. Parking here is a bit difficult (try the metred spaces on Broadway), but the market has a bike valet and offers free bicycle delivery for anything you buy. Market cash is a matter of course.
This market has a couple of features really pushing it up on the list of the best Farmers Markets, such as the great playground for kids and bathrooms in the community centre, and if you go a little farther south, you can take your goodies and enjoy them at Kitsilano Beach.
For more information and a complete list of vendors, check the Vancouver Farmers Markets website. Bon Appétit!