Although I was up early, it was a slow start to my day, and mid morning by the time I got to the West End Farmers Market. The sun was shining and people were out in their droves. The very first stall was for food waste recycling, individual homes have curbside food waste collections in Vancouver but not apartments so each week at the Farmers Market, people are able to bring along their waste for a mass recycle. By the time I was there there’d already been over 180 deposits.
On to the first meat stall, selling Poultry. Unlike home, most meat stalls here sell their produce frozen – their Provincial Environmental Health requires the meat to be kept at a low temperature, in order to guarantee this the only real option is to freeze the product. This means that there’s far less wasteage for the producer(as there’s no risk of perishing), but as customers shop with their eyes it means that enticing that first purchase is that much harder. Speaking with the stall owner/farmer she mentioned that most first time customers spend around $10, if they’re regulars to the market they’ll be back in a few weeks and they’ll spend around $40.
When shopping for locally produced food, I usually expect it to be within 25 miles. Here, ‘local’ means within the same State – it’s quite a difference. I’d never realised quite how lucky we are at home to have so many small producers right on the doorstep.
My first taste of charcuterie was a bison pepperoni snack stick, the stall seemed to be doing a rather brisk trade, and a few lines were nearly sold out. I was quite intrigued that they had a bison salami, and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen salami frozen. It was thermal processed salami, so it should have had a healthy shelf life but I assume that the powers that be (in line with the other meats sold) requested it be frozen prior to sale. The owner was extremely interesting, he’d started the business in the early nineties. He contract breeds with a farmer in Saskatchewan, has the meat processed at another facility and the final product is shipped to him in Vancouver. He processes around 4/5 animals a year but he still holds down a regular job, if I recall correctly, running a tug boat depot.
I was hugely impressed by the vegetables on sale at the market. I wouldn’t have said that it differed in quality from what we have at home but the culture and climate provides a greater variety of produce. I’d called at Blaencamel Farm, close to Aberaeron in Mid Wales earlier this week and their produce is beautiful – the market today had seven or eight producers of equal standard, an absolute joy to see.
The final meat stall was Eli’s Serious Sausage, they sold bratwurst produced by The D-Original Sausage Co. As I’d just had breakfast I didn’t get one, I really regret that now, they looked fantastic. Big juicy looking bangers in what looked like some very good artisan baked bread rolls. There were Serious Sausage signs dotted around the market, and the marketing worked as I saw a number of people tucking into them.
An excellent little market, the first of many on this trip hopefully.