Many experts tout the benefits of eating local food, but with so many options available in the produce aisle, navigating the supermarket can be a challenging task for shoppers.

A recent survey from found that 61 per cent of Canadians believe buying local food is important and would pay up to 30 per cent more for it.

Registered dietician Karlene Karst is also a strong believer in buying local produce.

“When we eat local produce, the taste is so much more superior over produce that we’re bringing in from overseas or from thousands of miles away,” she said. “I just find a robust flavour, like it’s supposed to taste,” she said.

The B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets breaks down what fruits and vegetables are in season in different parts of the province. In southwest B.C., apples, melons, peaches and strawberries, among other things, are all in season in August.  

Brussel sprouts, cranberries and grapes all come into season in September.

“The advantage of living here in B.C. is we have access to so much local food,” said Karst. “We really do have an amazing assortment of local produce to enjoy.”

However, a recent informal taste test at the PNE underscored the importance of not only buying locally but buying at the appropriate time in the season. PNE attendees were asked to try local and imported apples, peaches and strawberries to see what they preferred and if they could tell the difference. Four testers preferred the local apples while six preferred the imports, and just three people preferred the local peaches while seven preferred the imports. As for the strawberries, seven people preferred the local fruit and eight people preferred the ones from California.

“The ripeness of the fruit will make a difference,” said Karst. “It’s always best to get them right at the beginning of the season.”