Updated February 2019
Sometimes I am asked, “Where can I find organic and gluten-free food?” I have listed some of the stores in Surrey, Vancouver and other communities in BC below. When I was dealing with food intolerances in 2003, many of these stores did not exist. Now you can find organic vegetables, gluten-free bread, coconut oil, chia seeds, and more at many local Save-on-Foods, Independent Stores, Superstores, Thrifty’s, IGAs, Safeways and Costco. London Drugs carries many good products for people with wheat-intolerance now as well. But the biggest variety is often at natural health food stores.
Health food stores are a good place to find less common foods (quinoa pasta, spelt flour, tapioca flour) so that you can add variety to your diet and avoid foods you are intolerant to. They are also a great place to buy healthier versions of some packaged foods. Keep in mind that even though they are selling it in a health food or natural food store, it may not be healthy for you or anyone else. Read the ingredients and ask questions if you’d like to learn more. Some of the stores below (like Choices, Stong’s and Donald’s Market) are regular grocery stores that have a large selection of organic goods on the shelf and a variety of organic fruit and vegetables.
In Surrey/Langley/White Rock:
- Nature’s Fare – on 200th near Willowbrook Mall and near Johnston Rd in White Rock
- Choices – in South Surrey on King George Hwy just north of 32nd Ave
- Antony & Sons – in South Surrey at the corner of 32 Ave and 140th
- Organic Grocer – near King George Hwy and 73rd Ave
- Natural Focus – near Scott Road and 64th
- Rustic Roots (formerly Country Life) – on 200th in Brookswood, Langley
- Country Sun Natural Foods – Johnston Rd, White Rock
In Port Coquitlam/Coquitlam/Pitt Meadows/Maple Ridge:
In Burnaby/New Westminster/Richmond/Ladner:
In North Vancouver/West Vancouver/Squamish/Whistler:
- Whole Foods – in West Van, I love stopping here after taking the ferry back from the Island, and in North Van near Lonsdale and 13th
- Nourish Market – Lynn Valley
- Choices – Marine Dr in North Van
- Stong’s Market – Dollarton Hwy in North Van
In the Okanagan:
- Nature’s Fare – Kelowna, West Kelowna, Penticton, Kamloops, Vernon
- Choices – Kelowna, Kamloops & Penticton
Please let me know – what stores haven’t I included? Which have opened up recently or closed down? I don’t include supplement stores on this list unless they also sell lots of food.
Yogurt is thought of as a healthy food. It provides healthy bacteria, protein and calcium. Unfortunately most yogurt available in the grocery stores is not what I would consider healthy. When my older daughter was young I bought her yogurt tubes because she could take them to school and loved the taste. What I didn’t realize was how unhealthy they were because of the food colouring and sugar in them. I believe that yogurt is no longer a healthy food once you add those.
The bacteria in the yogurt helps keep our system in balance and helps us avoid sinus, ear and candida infections. The bacteria also decreases the amount of lactose in yogurt, which means that yogurt is easier to digest than milk. In my opinion, to buy the best yogurt:
- artificial food colouring (“colour” as an ingredient, Yellow #5, Red #40, or Tartrazine)
- sugar (on the ingredient list, not the nutritional panel that shows “sugars”)
- aspartame, Splenda and other artificial sugars
- additives or extra ingredients like cornstarch
- plain yogurt
- yogurt sweetened with fruit juice or fruit
- yogurt sweetened with honey or stevia
- yogurt without colour, or coloured with beet juice or annatto
I buy plain yogurt and add fruit to it myself. I love plain yogurt with fresh raspberries or bananas. Sometimes I add homemade granola, raw nuts, pumpkin seeds or unsweetened coconut. I buy vanilla yogurt for my daughters occasionally, buying the ones with organic sugar so that the sweetener isn’t quite as processed.
More reading on the health benefits of yogurt:
Reasons Why Yogurt is a Top Health Food by Dr. Sears
In this blog post I have been writing about dairy yogurt, but the same information applies to goat yogurt, soy yogurt and coconut milk yogurt.
I often keep an energy bar in my purse in case I am out longer than I expect to be. Yesterday my appointment went an hour longer than I thought it would and I was very hungry when I left. I saw fast food restaurants but nowhere nearby that had quick healthy food, so I ate the energy bar I had with me. Having a snack with me decreases the times that I eat food that I wish I shouldn’t have eaten. The energy bars I eat have good ingredients in them, test healthy for me, and are flavourful.
I like the taste and ingredients in Larabars (sweetened with only dates except for the chocolate chips in some bars), Taste of Nature bars (sweetened with agave), and Honeybars (sweetened with honey). I avoid bars with white sugar, artificial sweeteners, or chemicals in them. I choose bars that are sweetened with dates, brown rice syrup, agave syrup or honey. I used to love Kind bars, but unfortunately they changed the formula and they now have sugar as one of their sweeteners.
You can make your own healthy energy bars at home, which allows you to choose only ingredients you like, but I usually choose the convenience of buying bars that someone else has made.
I buy Taste of Nature bars at Costco or Nature’s Fare, Honeybars at IGA, and Larabars in Washington State. I like the lemon, lime and cherry flavours of Larabars and those are no longer available in Canada (please let me know if you see them in Canada and I’ll update this post!)
After visiting my naturopath at Living Wellness Center, I stopped in at a new health food store that has not yet officially opened. Almost everything in their store is organic and some is unique to the area. It is called Antony & Sons, and is located in Elgin Corners – the corner of 32nd & 140th in South Surrey. I recommend that you stop by if you live in the area or if you are heading out to Crescent Beach. They have excellent prices on fresh organic produce (98c/lb for organic oranges!) and great prices on the food on the shelf. In addition to the oranges and some basics, I bought some dried tart cherries, which I have only seen in health food stores south of the border. They also have unpasteurized raw almonds, which are hard to find. It is a family-run store with very knowledgeable and friendly owners.
In the grocery store I see specials on white flour, sugar and walnuts, just in time for baking season. Consider modifying some of your holiday recipes. What about using half whole wheat flour? I recommend Camino sugar (at Save-on and health food stores) as a substitute for white sugar. It is less refined and easier for your body to digest. Be careful with walnuts – because they are so high in Omega 3 oils they go rancid quickly. The process starts as soon as the nut is broken. Rancid nuts are toxic in your body. I suggest you buy them in the shell or somewhere they are purchased frequently (I like Costco and Grecos Mediterannean store near King George Hwy in Surrey). Store all shelled nuts in the fridge or freezer for longer life.
On Saturday I went to the Westcoast Women’s Show in Abbotsford. Bremner’s juice was in the food aisle and we sampled a few of their juices. Yum! They use blueberries from Delta to make their blueberry juice and cranberries from Fort Langley to make their cranberry juice. I like that the fruit is local. The fellow pouring the juice said that some juice companies use juice-grade berries that are not suitable for selling (bruised, not ripe, overly-ripe), whereas Bremner’s uses the highest quality berries. He also mentioned a couple of anecdotes about people whose health conditions had improved by drinking a glass of their juice daily. The health value of whatever you drink or eat will depend on the quality of ingredients and the life energy of the food. My favourite was the blueberry pomegranate juice and my daughter’s favourite was the blackberry juice. Bremner’s juice is available at Save-On-Foods, London Drugs, Choices and IGA.
During the summer we often use our barbecue to grill meat for dinner. There are many places to buy organic meat and meat without antibiotics in BC and the Vancouver area. In addition to purchasing it in some health food stores, you can also find it in these stores:
In Surrey/Langley/White Rock:
- JD Turkey Farms – free range turkeys, turkey sausages, meatballs, soup and more. Other healthier products such as honey and spelt flour are available in their store. 10% discount for bulk sausage purchases.
- Farmer Ken’s Meats
- Heritage Meats – organic beef, chicken, and more
- Thomas Reid Farms – Langley; organic chicken in bulk by appointment only
- Hazelmere Organics – Surrey
- Big Sky Natural Meats – beef and lamb from Lumby, BC
- The Butcher
- Tango’s Gourmet Meats – the West End
- Nature’s Prime
In Port Coquitlam/Coquitlam/Port Moody/Pitt Meadows/Maple Ridge:
In Burnaby/New Westminster/Richmond/Ladner:
- Superior Fish Market – Ladner; fish, organic chicken and beef, bison, other organic products
- Queens Park Meat Market – New Westminster
In North Vancouver/West Vancouver:
For other locations across Canada:
One of the best places to buy healthy food is at farmer’s markets. If you also consider the entertainment value of the music, interesting booths and people watching, it is well worth the drive to get there. My favourite is the White Rock Farmer’s Market, which is on Sundays from 9am-1pm. I have bought organic cherries, spelt bread, cookies sweetened with agave syrup, unsprayed apples, honeysticks, spicy olives, and much more there. Almost all of it has been delicious and fresh. I’ve also bought my daughters angel clings for the window and sparkly hairbands. There are farmer’s markets in just about every city of BC. You can find produce, crafts, jewelery… They usually open in May or June and continue until September or October.