Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My Favourite Grocery Store!

There are quite a few wonderful local grocery stores here in Winnipeg, and this time of year the farmers' markets start popping up like mushrooms after the rain, too. But I want to tell you about my favourite of all, year-round.

It's a little operation on Wall St., just north of Portage, if you happen to be local and want to check it out. It's called, because it started purely as a website, but branched out into a real store.

It started as a family operation, but was bought up by Vita Health, also a local company, a couple of years ago. I was a little concerned when the original owners burned out, but Ryan, the current manager, has done an excellent job of keeping the atmosphere and the high standards that were its hallmark. Most of the original staff are still there, which I think is quite telling.

Local tomatoes, yay! One of the many things I love about this store is its emphasis on locally grown produce. Living in Winnipeg, that is not something we take for granted. For six months of the year, the ground is covered in snow and all we have by way of local produce is carrots and potatoes from last year, and of course the local mushrooms. But when the tomatoes come in, we know spring is on its way. These are hothouse tomatoes, it is still too early to hope for field ones. But they make my heart sing anyway.

But here is the real kicker - fiddlehead ferns. They are only available for a couple of weeks every year. They aren't even the tastiest greens around. But they are local, they grow outside without plastic or heating, and if you blink, you'll miss them. Every year without fail, I find them at, and my spring is just not complete without them.

Of course the store also carries local organic milk and local free-run or organic eggs, pickerel and pike from the local lakes, as well as salmon that didn't come from China, bison and elk and halal chickens. You can find most of the organic big names on the shelves, but also Manitoba maple syrup (not this year, alas) and locally grown and ground flour. Most of the produce is still from far away, but those "Manitoba Grown" signs are becoming more and more frequent. I can't wait till they cover the whole cooler.

If you visit that little store at 603 Wall St., be sure to say hello to the staff from me. If all else fails, there's always

What is your favourite grocery store?

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