The United Counties of Leeds and Grenville (CLG) have launched what they are calling “Foodie Shop Adventures”, a tour of “unique food shops featuring local delights and exciting imports, guaranteed to satisfy every foodie’s adventurous palette”. The map accompanying the tour guide shows the location of these shops in the 1000 Islands Rideau Canal Waterways region, which “feature local delights and exciting imports that will leave you craving more”.

This all sounds very exciting indeed, and I was keen to see which stores in North Grenville would be part of this imaginative tour. There were none! As far as the United Counties are concerned, North Grenville is a foodie wasteland, with not a single store worthy of inclusion in their list of “local delights”. Either someone at the UCLG offices has forgotten that North Grenville exists, or there has been a singular lack of marketing effort in promoting our specialty foods assets.

Off the top of my head, I could think of at least two candidates for such a foodie tour, just in downtown Kemptville alone. Grahame’s Bakery is famous throughout Eastern Ontario for its fantastic range of baked goods, not to mention the heritage wood-fired oven in which they are prepared. People come here from miles around to buy fresh bread, buns, and all sorts of tasty baked goods, so why isn’t the Bakery on the Foodie Tour route?

And what about the B&H, often described as a specialty foods store that also sells groceries? The list of local specialty foods available only in the B&H is extensive, not to mention the imports from Britain and Ireland. But local, grass-fed meats, bread and pies baked in-house, and so many other items that would be obvious entries in the Foodie Tour guide are not there. And these are just two stores that come to mind in North Grenville, but we are completely ignored by the UCLG.

Contrast this with the three stores featured in Merrickville. Worthy inclusions, no doubt, but that’s not the point. The UCLG have a very odd way of deciding what are “unique food shops featuring local delights and exciting imports”. One store featured sells cookware, with various specialty foods as a secondary component. But there is something else that’s strange about the tour. Aside from the three Merrickville stores, one in Prescott and two in Brockville, all the other locations are in the west end of the United Counties, west of Highway 5. North Grenville is simply part of a wide area of the region bereft, it seems of specialty food shops.

Perhaps the UCLG are simply trying to promote stores in more rural areas, which would be a fine ambition. But the entire branding of the tour doesn’t match that focus. If this is to be a celebration of “The shops in the 1000 Islands Rideau Canal Waterways region”, perhaps it should have cast its net wider?

Maybe the Warden of the UCLG could have a word with the staff at the Counties, where, they say, “lifestyle grows good business”, whatever that means.


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