Grass-fed meat in Vancouver


Where to buy grass-fed meat in Vancouver?


Screen shot 2014-09-02 at 8.50.58 AMThe regular meat we buy at grocery stores is often infused with hormones for various purposes, whether to increase the shelf life or the amount of meat from one animal. These hormones come from either the food that the animals are getting, or from intramuscular injections.

Apparently, “[t]he safety of hormone use has been reviewed by many experts and agencies, including Health Canada, the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations“, and they have concluded, that “these hormones can be used safely in beef production” (beefinfo.org). When the hormone is being approved for the use, it must: 1. Be effective, e.g. do what it’s supposed to do; 2. Be safe for the animal; 3. Be safe for human consumption. 

Research has shown that very high levels of hormones taken for a long time may be a risk factor in some kinds of cancer (americangrassfedbeef.com).

It is natural for cattle and farm birds to feed off grass and grains, so why break the model that has successfully worked for hundreds of years, given that it may cause a terminal illness. I don’t speak for everyone , but I definitely prefer having my food as natural as possible.

There are a few places where you can buy grassfed organic meats in Vancouver.

1. Harkness & Co. Butchers (vancouverbutcher.com) is the place that comes to mind first. It is located at the intersection of Broadway and Fraser in Vancouver; and I’m told the people who work there are nice and genuine, and a pleasure to associate with.

2. Windsor Quality Meats (windsorqualitymeats.com) on Main and King Edward, also in Vancouver.

3. Famous Foods (famousfoods.ca) at1595 Kingsway St. – just a few blocks East from Fraser at Kingsway.

4. Grass Fed Jeff (grassfedjeff.com/the-grassfed-directory/wheretobuy) products are sold in multiple stores, check the link above.

If you do not have an opportunity to buy grass-fed at your local stores, or in the stores from the list above, FreeFrom series sold at Superstore are also good (not exactly sure on what is used to feed the animals, but the meat is free of growth hormones).

Car-free hiking destinations near Vancouver


Transit-accessible hiking destinations.


Car-free hiking destinations.


Where to hike in or near Vancouver if you have no access to a car?


Owning a car in Vancouver may come off as a luxury, with the gas and minimum insurance prices. Personally, I prefer owning a personal vehicle (right now I commute on a motorcycle – ’03 Suzuki DR-Z400s), to avoid the stress from using public transit at most times; but my girlfriend, despite me offering to buy her a motorcycle or a scooter, chooses to use TransLink.

Luckily, TransLink’s area of service covers a lot of suburban locations, that are pleasant getaway from the everyday life. The ones that came to mind are listed below, and grouped by the general proximity to one another.

(Visit translink.ca or maps.google.ca for route planning)

1. Grouse Mountain (Bus #232, #236):

image from www.paulromein.ca

image from www.paulromein.ca

Grouse Mountain is a very popular destination for tourists and local residents. You can either take the gondola both ways, or hike up and take the gondola down. Hiking back down is not recommended, especially outside summer, as the top 1/4 of the route is very steep, and gets icy and slippery, so you are endangering yourself and others around you.

 

  • Capilano Lake + Canyon
  • Grouse Grind
  • BCMC Trail (like Grouse Grind, but with 1/3 of traffic)

2. West West Vancouver Area (Bus #250/#250A, #251, #252, #253, #254, 255, #256, #258, #259, #C12):

The view from Whytecliff Park

The view from Lighthouse Park

Horseshoe Bay area is incredible during both the warmer and colder months. Lighthouse Park and Whytecliff park are about 10 km away from each other, so you will need to take another short bus ride from one to another; although Lighthouse Park is big enough for a day stroll on its own. In addition to the exceptional views of the city and the water, there are a lot of hiking trails throughout.

If you like old buildings, visit the Point Atkinson Battery in the Lighthouse Park- it was built for defending the city during the WWII.

          • Lighthouse Park & trails nearby
          • Whytecliff Park + Point Atkinson Battery
          • Whyte Lake
          • Caulfield Park & Erwin Park

3. Deep Cove (Bus #211, #212, #C15)

Deep Cove is an excellent place to visit during the Summer, and is not a bad destination for the colder months. Be aware, that during the rainy season the trails will be more dangerous as they get more slippery.

  • Quarry Rock
  • Cates Park
The view from Quarry Rock (and my shoes)

The view from Quarry Rock (and my shoes)

4. Lynn Valley (Bus #228, #229):

Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge is a good alternative to Capilano Bridge: it is free to visit, and there is far less traffic. It is smaller than its rival, but the surrounding area has a lot more to offer: you can hike around the Rice Lake, cliff jump at Lynn Canyon, do the Lynn Loop or visit the Twin Falls. There are much longer trails heading North, if you feel like continuing with your journey.

  • Rice Lake
  • Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge
  • Cliff jumping at Lynn Canyon
  • Lynn Loop

5. Buntzen and Belcarra (Bus #C25, #C26):

Screen shot 2014-08-26 at 10.46.21 AM

Diez Vistas is an excellent, albeit a longer (6-7 hours) hike. Buntzen Lake also has shorter trails, if you are not a big fan of longer walks. Belcarra Park is within a walking distance from Buntzen, and there are a few trails connecting the two.

Keep in mind, that Belcarra is on the other shore right across the Deep Cove, so you may be able to make your way there on a kayak, if the water is temper.

  • Buntzen Lake
  • Sasamat Lake
  • Diez Vistas
  • Belcarra Park

6. Simon Fraser Unversity (Bus #135, #143, #144, #145)

Screen shot 2014-08-26 at 10.16.11 AM

Often underestimated, SFU (Burnaby campus) has a whole lot of hiking trails with various difficulties. There are some foot trails, and some trails that you can ride on a bicycle. Barnet Marine Park is just across the highway.

— edit Aug.28 2014 —

7. Deer Lake/Burnaby Lake (thanks, /u/ThanksThanksObama) (Bus #110, #123, #129, #144; there are a few other ways to get to Burnaby Lake, refer to TransLink/Google Maps for route planning)

Screen shot 2014-08-28 at 10.57.38 AM

Burnaby Lake and Deer Lake are a good option, if you do not feel like going to far, but still want to temporarily seclude from the city chaos.

8. Green Timbers Urban Forest (thanks, /u/ThanksThanksObama) (Bus #502)

Unfortunately, I have not seen nor heard of this park. But, hey, it is there and you can visit it anytime you feel like it (unless the access is restricted by the respective agencies).


Other helpful articles and pages:

http://www.car-free.ca/bc-car-free/hiking/
http://www.vancouvertrails.com/regions/?sort=&filter=transit


As always, if you have any suggestions or comments, I’m all ears!

Day 13 – July 21 // Downtown Victoria, Cadboro Gyro Beach, Burchart Garden // Tynehead RV Park

Day 13 – July 21
Downtown Victoria, Cadboro Gyro Beach, Burchart Garden
Tynehead RV Park (5/5)

Sadly, the journey was nearly over. We had one full day left to enjoy Victoria before we went back to Vancouver.

After we woke up, had breakfast, we were on the way to Downtown. Fort Victoria RV park is just a short drive to downtown Victoria, and there are only 2 parking lots that accommodate larger RV’s.

If you want to walk around downtown Victoria, I suggest to start from the Mile 0 Point, and make your way North, towards the Parliament Building via the Fisherman’s Wharf and floating houses, and to Chinatown (the oldest one in Canada, and second oldest in North America).

There was nothing that we saw in Victoria that I haven’t seen before, though I had a ton of fun exploring it once again with my dearest.

I recommend allocating at least 3-4 hours for the sightseeing. Make sure to walk the breakwater at Ogden point, and once you are at the Fisherman’s Wharf try clam chowder and oyster burger at Barb’s Fish&Chips. Make sure to bring enough water, because there are not too many stores during the first part of the route.

At about 4 we headed out to the beach for a quick dip, and at around 5.30 we were at the Burchart Garden.

Can’t say that I loved it - frankly speaking, I don’t think it was worth the money, so unless you have absolutely nothing else to do, I’d skip this location. If you really want to go, allow ~2 hours for the visit. My favourite parts were the Japanese and Italian gardens, and the rose garden (my mom and I have smelled almost all of them, and they all smelled differently!

The Italian garden

The Italian garden

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After the garden, we have headed to the ferry terminal. 1.5 hours later we have landed in Tsawwassen, and headed to Tynehead RV Park.

Tynehead RV Park review (5/5):

IMG_20140722_084349087_HDRSince we have arrived after-hours, I had to wake up an attendant, who gave us a spot and sold us a cleaning solution. The park is very large, and almost all the spots are busy. There are dividers between the spots, and all of them have full hookups. The rates were reasonable, and the territory was clean.

When we were hooking the electricity and water up, I got some of the dirty water on my leg, and in panic broke the shower knob. This was by far the most expensive shower I have taken in my life, estimated at $120 for the repair by the RV rental place.

Because of the scheduling, I did not have a chance to see the facilities (washroom and showers), as we have left at about 10 in the morning to return the RV to the rental place.

Day 12- July 20 // Little Qualicum Falls, MacMillan Provincial Park, Coombs Country Market, Nanaimo // Fort Victoria RV Park

Day 12- July 20
Little Qualicum Falls, MacMillan Provincial Park, Coombs Country Market, Nanaimo, Victoria
Fort Victoria RV Park (5/5)

Sadly, our trip was coming to an end. 2 more days, and we would be on the road home again. But, as of then, we still had 2 nights left, and it was no time to stop to be reminiscing yet.

The weather on the island was far from perfect, but we could work with that. Some rain in the morning has turned into cloudy afternoon, and we drove to see the Little Qualicum Falls, and then to MacMillan Provincial Park to check out the famous Cathedral Grove with 700+ year old cedars.

Qualicum beach stop on the way to the falls

Qualicum beach stop on the way to the falls

On the way we have stopped at the gas station to feed the beast, and within 30 minutes from the RV park we have reached the first destination.

We have chosen to see the Little Qualicum Falls and the Cathedral Grove because of the close proximity to each other, and only a short drive from the park we have stayed at.

vZIlGbHtNb3wEJ3RHzUHtT8qGDU9pajzkDTzx3nHTFULittle Qualicum Falls are not the most interesting waterfalls out there, but the park is a nice walk for a cloudy day. The route from the bottom falls to the top ones and back is about 30 minutes total, and there is plenty of parking available. The top waterfall is running in a rocky area, and the route is shaped in an astonishing manner – it seems just as it is going through the ground, but in fact it’s turning right, which is hard to see unless you look from a certain angle.

IMG_20140720_132952310_HDR IMG_20140720_133615164_HDR IMG_20140720_133153339_HDR IMG_20140720_133029076_HDR

The trail is not very difficult, but unfortunately, is not wheel-chair accessible. Allow about 60 minutes for the visit.

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After the falls we have proceeded to the MacMillan Park. Finding parking there is a nearly impossible task – there are only a few stalls, and as you are leaving, you need to back to the highway. Having said that, I would not want to see these trees go down to make more space up for parking.

My father, brothers and I are trying to hug a tree. And it's not even the biggest one!

My father, brothers and I are trying to hug a tree. And it’s not even the biggest one!

The tallest tree there is estimated to be 1000 years old, and the dendrologists suggest it has another 300 to go. There always is a large group of people taking pictures in front of it, so you need to wait for a little while before you get to take yours. The walk around the park should not take you more than 1 hour.

After the MacMillan Park we have stopped at the Goats on The Roof marketplace (it is exactly what it sounds) to get some fruit and bread for the road, and then went to Nanaimo for a seafood dinner at a local diner (absolutely no recollection of what it’s called, but it was good!).IVjtPljXNilOBJv3BBUYU7iaIO7w9v-E4Eh7QadOJyY

More oysters eaten in Nanaimo

More oysters eaten in Nanaimo

Fort Victoria RV Park Review (5/5):

IMG_20140721_111012831_HDRFort Victoria RV park is within a 7-minute car ride from Downtown Victoria (or 20 minutes on the bus – the bus stop is a 5-minute walk from the park). Cab ride to the RV park from the Parliament Building is $20.

The park is very big, and has spots large enough to accommodate RV’s of any size. Each site has full hookups (water and electricity). The staff is very helpful – ask them for the maps and bus schedules if you are new to the area. They also have daily bus tickets for sale (the price is equivalent to paying for the bus fare twice).

The park has some trees, and there are some divided spots, and some that are just next to each other. It gets very quiet in the evening and at night, and, even though there is a railroad right next to the park, I have not heard or seen any trains.

Day 11 – July 19 // Artisan Market in Sechelt, Qualicum Beach Cedar // Grove RV Park

Day 11 – July 19
Artisan Market in Sechelt, Qualicum Beach
Cedar Grove RV Park (3/5)

IMG_20140719_140952850_HDRThe original plan that day was to wake up and head to the market at Gibson’s Landing, but it was over by noon, and we only woke up at 11-ish (oops). So we decided not to waste any more time on this coast, and head to the Island ASAP. But I mixed up the schedule, so we found out that the next ferry was in 2 hours. We decided to go check out the Sechelt Artisan market in the meantime: 15 minutes and one stressful parking job later there it was.

We have purchased some local cucumbers (yummy!), beeswax lavender deodorant (smells yummy), and shoes for my cousin’s son (not yummy but cute). The time was tight, so we skipped the beach part and went straight to the ferry terminal. Ferry was still on the station, but because of the mechanical issues with the ramp, a backup one was utilized, which delayed the boarding by 30 minutes. Then, when it was finally our turn to board, there suddenly was no space left on the ferry, and it departed. No biggie, we are in the RV, so tonight we feast like kings. A little later another ferry shows up and we board. 40 minutes later, we loop around and board another ferry, to Nanaimo this time. $220 and 1.5 hours later we are on the island!

Since it was a little late, we went straight to the RV park, which was about 45 minutes away from the ferry.

Cedar Grove RV Park review (3/5)

IMG_20140720_113344040_HDRThe park is in a cedar grove (I know, shocking). There are no dividers between the RV spots, except for the tree logs, and the spots are pretty snug to each other. Maybe I was spoiled by the previous parks, but I didn’t feel like there was anything besides the basic level of comfort.

There is, however, a kids playground and a water slide park on site, and a small creek running at the back.

Cedar Grove was probably the worst campground we have camped so far. And while it certainly was more developed than the Fraser Cove, but the sketchy management, backyard campground spot and the fact you need to pre-request tables made me rate this park at only 3/5.