There are many great things about living in Vancouver. One that’s often overlooked is its proximity to the US border. Cross-border shopping isn’t new to me, but it was only recently that I actually stepped foot inside an American Whole Foods and a Trader Joe’s. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly jealous.
Like a kid in a candy store
Not a very primal analogy, but I was quite content to just leisurely wander the aisles and read ingredient labels. I had several “so that’s what they were talking about” moments while noticing brands / products that I had seen people mention online. Generally, there was just more variety. I felt similarly when I first entered Choices in Vancouver, and then Capers, and then Whole Foods. But the American Whole Foods was on another level.
Tracking down the elusive Kerrygold butter
I haven’t been able to find pastured butter in any Canadian grocery store. If you have, please do tell. I’ve been reading about Kerrygold online for some time now, and it was a treat to actually try some. The butter selection was overwhelming relative to what we have in Canada, where the best that I can find is organic. There were so many different butters to choose from – Kerrygold, Organic Valley (including their limited edition May – September, salted and cultured), other imported butters (e.g. Lurpak from Denmark and Smjor from Iceland), sweet butter, cultured butter, the list goes on… and I hear people in California (and Connecticut and New Mexico) can buy RAW milk and butter in grocery stores, while in other States you can legally buy it from farms??
As I said, there’s no Kerrygold in Canada (something about import restrictions, although we do have their cheese), and raw milk is illegal (except for a loophole via “cow shares”, which are hard to come by and routinely get shut down).
Wild caught sardines for half the price?
Yes, please. Lets compare sardines canned in something other than soy or canola oil.
Number of Canadian Whole Foods choices: 1 ; price: $5.39
Number of American Whole Foods choices: min. 3; price: approx. $2 – $2.50
Bonus: The US package said they were wild caught, and if I remember correctly, the olive oil was organic. Ouch.
Maybe at least all that fancy butter’s really expensive?
Price of Kerrygold pastured butter (US Whole Foods)? $2.69
Price of Organic Valley pastured, special edition butter (US Whole Foods)? $3.69
Price of President’s Choice organic butter (Real Canadian Superstore)? $4.69
And then there’s Trader Joe’s. If you diligently check ingredient labels, you can get some great deals – there’s no such Canadian equivalent. And of course they carry Kerrygold butter, as do most US grocery chains.
Yes to variety and lower prices. No to zero fat rBGH.
It wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Seeing “non-rBGH” labels on dairy products made me weary of consuming even small amounts of non-organic dairy while eating out, something I do not have to worry about in Canada. Also I was surprised at how difficult it was to find full-fat dairy – there seemed to be an even greater emphasis on zero fat than here.
Overall, it was cool to check out new products, especially ones I’d previously come across online. And it sure would be nice to at least get some more variety north of the border (CBSA, Kerrygold, Whole Foods, are you listening?)