Martin Beland, President and owner of Beland Organic Foods, loves nature and trees. This love forms the foundation of his business from the organic products he sells to the support he offers to organic food producers. He’s the type of man who cares deeply about the organic community in Canada and abroad. He often travels to spread the word about organics.
According to Ron Drebit, Grocery Category Manager at Community Natural Foods, Beland Organic Foods has strong ethical practices, high standards, an exceptional sense of community, make themselves readily available and walk the talk. Beland Organic participates in The Carbone Boreal Program to offset carbon produced by transporting the products. Community has been carrying products from Beland Organic since 1994 and the relationship started because of the strong core values both companies share.
As a child, Martin grew up close to nature, maple trees and maple syrup in Quebec. Today he lives in the Appalachian mountains in Quebec and 35 minutes away from Quebec City. It was a natural progression that the first food line Martin introduced in 1992 was organic maple syrup. He called it Canadian Heritage Organics. Martin lived in Gibsons Landing on the Sunshine Coast in the 90’s and was deeply influenced by the natural foods movement.
The syrup for Canadian Heritage comes from his neighbour’s three generation farm. From his house, Martin can see the same sugar shack that has been used by the family for generations to produce maple syrup from the sap of the 100 year old trees on the property.
The rich mineral content of the soil is ideal for making maple syrup. The farm uses traditional farming techniques to collect the sap as well as the Pipeline Method. The sap is collected from the maples from mid-March to mid-April. It takes about 40 litres of sap to make one litre of syrup.
The Canadian Heritage Organics includes three grades of syrup. The three grades are:
No. 1 – Extra Light, Light or Medium (considered the highest quality), No. 2 – Amber and
No. 3 – Dark.
After introducing organic maple syrup to the market, Martin quickly started branching out and created the company, Beland Organic Foods. Community carries three of their product lines; Canadian Heritage Organics, Karthein’s Organic Sauerkraut and Kimchi and Rise Kombucha.
Karthein’s Organic Sauerkraut and Kimchi and Rise Kombucha are considered healing foods because they’re fermented and raw. Fermentation retains the goodness of organic whole foods and enhances their healthy qualities.
Karthein’s Organic Unpasteurized Sauerkraut is made with high quality, organic ingredients. It’s prepared in labour intensive small batches. The health benefits include; improved digestion by establishing beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract, easily assimilated nutrients, high Vitamin C, bowel regulation, a calmer nervous system, improved sleep and lower blood pressure.
Kimchi is inspired by a traditional Korean recipe. The ingredients are local organic green cabbage, daikon radish, carrots, onions, ginger, sea salt, red pepper and garlic. It’s been slowly fermented for its health benefits. Kimchi is unpasteurized, contains naturally occurring digestive enzymes and beneficial probiotic bacteria.
Rise Kombucha is a slightly sweet and tart tasting beverage created by the synergistic action of yeast and bacteria that converts tea into a tonic drink with a taste like a light cider. Rise Kombucha is organic, Fairtrade, raw, vegan and made with ingredients from Quebec. It enhances vital energy, detoxifies and balances digestion.
Martin shared his hope for the future to have more farmland converted into organic growing land. He said we all win. He also envisions a groundswell of change starting with children educating their parents about what they eat. The basis for his vision hasn’t changed since he embraced natural foods while living on the Sunshine Coast.
By Debbie Flynn