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An affair with Longo’s—Joel Solish style

Community food blogger, Joel Solish, tells us what he thinks!

I think I might be cheating on my food system. I know, the horror!

A big part of supporting local is going to the farmers markets and supporting the people who produce our food. In an ideal world we would all have time to do this, at least once in a while, but life is busy. That is when we turn to family owned business who support these farmers and other small producers for us, allowing us to make that connection with our food. In the last two months I have spent more time at Longos Markets, as most of you know, being a part of their Taste Ontario Ambassador Program. This allowed me an opportunity to meet the people at the store at Maple Leaf Square, and other locations to get a feel about what the modern Longos is all about.

I do have a connection to Longos from being a kid, and I talked about that in my original post. It is certainly nice to see that Longos has maintained their focus on supporting local farmers, and has asked me to experience this and t story. This is not an advertisement for Longos, as my opinions are formed unobtrusively and without bias. I do really like shopping at Longos, especially at the MLS store.

Asking questions about our food is a big part of what I do, and what I preach, and I like when I get the answers I look for. This makes my choice to do business with someone a good one. To date, this has been a very positive part of my experience at Longos.

On one of my early visits with Alexa, the other blogger who is a part of this program, we were approached while shooting pictures in the produce department, but none other than the produce manager Brad Boin. I have been approached before while taking pictures in places, and some of the time the methods by which I was approached were not the friendliest. In this case, Brad was inquisitive, and happy to meet us and engage us in conversation. “Have you tried the Ontario melons, yet?” Was the answer to our inquiry about what was fresh from Ontario. “You have to try it, hold on, Ill be right back”, and off he went, returning with a cut up melon for us to munch on while we chatted. Now, I am not sure if any other customer would receive this treatment, but I would hope so and believe it to be true. Longos seems to be big on “try before you buy” marketing practices.

On another occasion, I was investigating Corks, a wine and beer bar in the lounge area of the MLS store that has a strong focus on only selling local. They have a Starbucks, Aisle 43 (wine store),  and The Loft (for cooking classes). There is WIFI there, but I always find it spotty. This is a great hidden gem for a visit before an event at the ACC, and you can grab a cheap bite, as they have specials every day after 4PM in store. Why spend a fortune on tickets to a game or a concert, and on food?

There are many experts in Longos and I would invite you to go and chat with them yourself, they are very knowledgeable and friendly. I love the coffee and tea guy at MLS, where they have a special roasting machine where beans get all toasty right before your eyes, he is quite a resource. While you are there, don’t forget to check out the selection of cheeses, it is quite impressive.

Seems I have been won over as a result of this program. Not the worst thing in the world, is it? Kudos to Longo’s for supporting farmers from the beginning, and upholding that commitment.

On a final note, today I visited the Longos head office, and let me tell you, it is very impressive. I will be sharing more of this story with you soon, so stay tuned for that. I went on a short tour of the facility where they package the fresh foods, like the stir fry kits, green salads, fruit salads, and packaged nuts. A very impressive facility, with much care taken in the process and quality of ingredients. More soon.

Find out more about Joel Solish, and the Taste Ontario Ambassador Program at his site here.

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