Support local: your guide to sourcing BC products at the grocery store – We Heart Local BC

Support local: your guide to sourcing BC products at the grocery store

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Looking for local in your grocery store? We can help.

We often get questions from our community about how to find B.C. products while shopping in the grocery store. With fruits and veggies coming into season, now is the best possible time to learn about sourcing local ingredients. After all, the bright flavours of in-season fruit and veggies level up any dinner! Plus, understanding how to source year-round local ingredients like dairy products, meat and eggs can be a game-changer for your health and your budget. That’s why we made this guide to sourcing local from your grocery store: what to look for, how to figure out where it came from, and how to encourage your store to carry more local products. It’s easy, it’s good for farmers, and it’s great for the planet.

How to find local veggies:
B.C. has an abundance of local veggies to choose from. To find local beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, onions, potatoes, squash and other vegetables in your grocery store, just look for labels like BC Fresh or Okanagan Grown. You can get BC grown tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and eggplant almost year-round thanks to BC’s greenhouses (bonus: they make super efficient use of sunshine and farming land while conserving water). For a list of BC greenhouse labels and growers to look for in the produce aisle, check out this guide. It’s also a great idea to keep an eye open at farmers markets and independent retail outlets for anything labelled ‘Product of BC”.

How to find local fruit:
The dry interior valleys of BC produce the most Northerly tree fruit in our hemisphere. This special climate produces beautiful apples, and cherries in abundance, as well as specialized tree fruits including peaches, pears, nectarines and plums. Even frost-sensitive apricots grow in the Okanagan! Farmers markets, and buying direct from the grower are great options for sourcing local fruit (find a list of cherry growers here) but you can definitely find them in grocery stores by looking and asking for 'Product of BC'!

If you are looking for berries, we’ve written a whole guide to finding BC’s abundant local berry offerings here, and you can also find lists of local farms supplying raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. BC cranberries can be sourced at your grocery store, though the label might surprise you - 95% of our cranberry crop is sold under the Ocean Spray label (Wondering why? Check out this blog post).

 

In addition to fruits and veggies, we are lucky in BC to have access to an abundance of other local foods year round. Here’s some tips on sourcing meat, eggs, and dairy from BC producers:

How to find local eggs:
BC Eggs has a tool on their home page which helps you find egg farmers in BC, the types of eggs they sell, and the brands they sell under. Most of the eggs you see in your favorite grocery store come from local BC farms. Look for brands like Golden Valley, Maple Hill, Rabbit River, Farmer Ben’s, Country Golden Yolks, Island Eggs and more!

How to find local dairy:
Canada and BC have some of the highest standards in the world for dairy products - there are no growth hormones used and the milk from every farm is tested to make sure there are no antibiotics. There are a few ways to find local dairy. Look for one of two logos that says “Made with 100% Canadian milk” or "Dairy Farmers of Canada Quality Milk. You can also check for the name and location of the processor on the container. Here’s more on how to find Canadian dairy products, and here’s a list of all of the processors here in BC.


Understanding how to source year-round local ingredients can be a game-changer for your health and your budget.


 

How to find local chicken and turkey:
In Canada, all chicken and turkey is raised without the use of added hormones and steroids. BC Chicken is easy to find at the grocery store. While there are 325 registered chicken growers in BC, they sell chicken under 12 brands (you can see a list of their names here). And when you are searching for a BC turkey - here’s a guide for what to look for and where to find them.

How to find local pork and beef:
Because the pork and beef industries are smaller in BC, you may have to visit independent retailers, or buy direct from the farmer as opposed to finding it in a large grocery chain. Here’s a list of pork suppliers, and more information about BC Beef.

Once you start to notice BC labels, you’ll see them everywhere. Another way you can keep your purchases local is to look for the Buy BC logo on grocery products and when eating at local restaurants. And of course, an easy way to support local food producers is to talk to the department managers of your grocery store: just ask them to order in the local B.C. products you’re looking for.

To connect to more local farmers, browse our farmer focused blog posts - in addition to groceries, we’ve got all the info you need to source flowers, wine, spirits, and even ice cream locally! Or, check out our Facebook and Instagram feeds to meet your local farmers and learn their stories.