You may or may not have seen the video taken by a passer-by's cell phone of rats (and not just one, but many!) scrambling all over the produce and packaged foods of Kitsilano Natural Foods, a store I touted earlier as being the best choice for bulk foods.
Needless to say, I've changed my mind. Although the story maintains that rodents are everywhere, likely in every store to at least some extent, the video shows quite a lot of rats in my mind - too many to be the "unpreventable few"!
I stopped in at Save On Foods, which isn't my favourite store (mostly for the reason that they've been caught labelling foreign/imported goods as 'local' erroneously, or maybe even accidentally-on-purpose - story here on CBC.ca), and loaded up on bulk foods in Aisle 2. It wasn't exactly cheap, seeing as I bought tart dried cherries, walnuts, dried blueberries ($17 worth! Yikes!) and $7 worth of chickpeas (wanted to see if it is cheaper to soak dried ones overnight than to buy cans - less sodium at the very least, I suppose).
And again I'm reminded of the plastic bag problem (and also again reminded of Kootsacs!), though I've found so many ways to reuse the bags (doubled-up or more for use as freezer bags; rinsed and reused for bulk purchases; used in place of cling wrap to cover bowls in the fridge, etc.).
Anyway, buying in bulk is often cheaper (but not always - always check up on it! Bagged pasta, rice, dried mangoes especially are often cheaper pre-packaged!), and it certainly means less waste if you're reusing those plastic baggies. It's obscene how much packaging some foods have!
So Save On Foods is probably the next best for bulk in the West side (they have an organic section as well), but at a big chain like this it always pays to do your homework! Don't forget also that if you're in the Cambie and Broadway area, there's another No Frills store just east on Broadway at Yukon or so, which does indeed have very competitive prices on staples like rice and beans!
Please do comment if you've found another great bulk option in Kits or nearby! I love rats as pets, but there's something positively repulsive about that many wild urban rats swarming food at Kitsilano Natural Foods. I suppose rat feces are natural, but it's just not comforting enough for me to want to shop there!