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Get to Know Your Local Suppliers

Harvest Field

Alongside its key partner, Foodland Ontario, Metro is committed to finding and supporting the crown jewels of the food industry in communities across Ontario – local suppliers who are feeding Ontarians in new, exciting and different ways. As a result, Metro has successfully introduced more than 400 local products into its stores since 2017.

We sat down with some new faces on our growing roster of innovative, local suppliers to learn more about how they got their start and what makes their products so great.

Metro Ontario is proud to support local Ontario food producers!


It’s more important than ever to Ontarians to have locally sourced options on the shelf at their local grocery store. In fact, almost 80 per cent of primary shoppers incorporate locally grown food into at least one meal per week.


Under its Local Purchasing Policy, Metro is committed to showcasing unique and innovative local suppliers in its stores. First launched in Ottawa in 2017, the policy now covers Southwestern Ontario, Seaway/St. Lawrence River and now, the Escarpment. By the end of 2019, the policy will cover Northern Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area, meaning more customers across the province will have access to exciting, new locally produced food.


During the most recent launch in the Escarpment, we took some time to chat with James Draves, president and CEO of one of our new local vendors: Quinta Local Superfoods.

James Draves

Where is Quinta Local Superfoods located? Is it a family business?

Quinta Local Superfoods has a facility in Rockwood, Ontario and a new facility in Northern Ontario this fall (exact location not announced yet). Yes, it is a family-run business as a majority.


Where do you grow the quinoa?

Quinta Local Superfoods has partnerships with farmers across Ontario. Previously, we have worked with farmers in Northern, Southwestern and Eastern Ontario. Quinta is always looking for farmers willing to take a chance on this high protein seed; we’re expanding to Quebec, Saskatchewan and Alberta.


Tell us about the growing process.

Our rich Canadian soils provide higher nutrient levels in our Quinta quinoa seeds. We provide all the seed to our growers for planting in late May/early June. Our special variety of quinoa has a shorter season than most, which allows it to grow during our short growing seasons.

The plants grow slowly for 4 to 6 weeks, then jump in height – as much as 2 feet in 2 weeks! – forming a nice canopy over the field. A yellow pollen is found on all the very small flowers (the size of the seeds). The seeds form at the top of the plant in a head and are more than 90 per cent self-pollinated.

Plants are harvested in August/September, depending on the season and location, then shipped to Quinta for preparation for food-grade products.


Is quinoa a good alternative to rice? How come?

Many people assume that quinoa is a grain. It's actually similar to spinach, chard or beets, but is eaten like a grain – that is why they call it a "pseudocereal."

White rice, on the other hand, is a refined starch, so it has a high glycemic index and almost 15 times more carbohydrates over Quinta quinoa. Quinta Quinoa has the highest nutrients and minerals, providing 5 more grams of fiber and protein over rice.

The bottom line is that quinoa will not only help you cut calories, but it’ll also fill you up for a longer time because of the protein. In other words, eating 1 cup of Quinta quinoa is the same as eating 3 to 4 cups of rice for nutrients.


Quinoa is a "superfood". What are the health benefits?

Quinoa is non-GMO and gluten free. Quinta quinoa is high in fibre, protein and has a low glycemic index. A quarter cup of Quinta quinoa has 10 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber. In fact, it contains more protein than any other grain/seed while also packing in iron, magnesium, zinc and other vitamins and nutrients.

These properties have all been linked to weight loss and improved health. Quinoa was a staple in my diet, on my pathway back from a health crisis.


Why should Metro customers buy local products?

Quinoa has been a seed harvested by the Inca empire in South America for thousands of years – they believed quinoa was a sacred crop. In recent years, North American and Europeans learned about this superfood and had incorporated into their daily diets.

However, to reduce our carbon footprint, and to take advantage of our rich Ontario soils, we have improved the protein, fibre and iron levels in local Ontario quinoa to offer Ontarians a local superfood for a healthier today than yesterday.


What does being a part of Metro’s Local Purchasing Policy mean to you?

Metro’s Local Purchasing Policy is an initiative that was needed in Ontario. This initiative closes the gap between Ontarian consumers and locally sourced products in a way that benefits everyone involved. Supporting local businesses means supporting your community, decreasing your carbon footprint, and improving your local economy. Everything that comes out of this initiative is positive and constructive; Metro and Ontario should be proud of it!


Fun fact?

I pitched Quinta Quinoa on Dragons' Den resulting in a deal with Vancouver Chef, Vikram Vij.


Katan Kitchens

Jamie Draves from Georgetown, ON, faces the Dragons looking for an investment in his quinoa business.

Quinoa degustation in Metro stores
Quinoa degustation in Metro stores
Quinoa degustation in Metro stores


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