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Last week I got a pleasant surprise delivered to my office when a cooler arrived packed with some of the most delicious and fresh radishes and tomatoes I have tasted in some time. 

This came from Leciel, a company based in Mirabel which has taken on the challenge of competing with foreign radish growers by supplying Quebec grocers (IGA, Metro, Super C, Adonis, Maxi and Provigo) with fresh, local radishes year-round, a first for the Quebec market. This makes Leciel the largest greenhouse radish producer in North America.

It was during a trip to Holland that founder Stéphane Bertrand and his son, newly appointed General Manager Steve, stumbled across a radish greenhouse. They quickly saw the potential for bringing such production back to Quebec. Since the taste of greenhouse radishes is very different from field radishes, they must be seen as a new vegetable in their own right. Sweet, mild and not very pungent, the possibilities are endless. This may explain why Europeans eat three times as many radishes as Quebecers.

Formerly known as Les Serres Bertrand for its production of pink tomatoes, the company branched out into the cultivation of cannabis five years ago. Last year, its partner, Canopy Growth, terminated the production agreement, due to a lack of demand in Canada. The Bertrand family wanted to get back to their roots and bring their state-of-the-art facilities to Quebec families in search of nutritious, affordable, local products. The company is back in the market-gardening business with a vengeance, producing 300 million radishes a year on five hectares of land. 

“Our mission with this crop is to restore a classic vegetable to its former glory,” said Steve Bertrand, “By offering four varieties of radish in a wide range of colors and tastes at an affordable price, we hope to diversify consumption opportunities and integrate radishes into family routines.”

Leciel markets four types of radishes in three different packages: red radishes (sweet, crunchy and not very spicy), French breakfast radishes (elongated shape, white tips and very mild taste) and three-color radishes (combining red, white and purple radishes for an explosion of color and flavor). The products are offered in bouquets and leafless packaging in an innovative ready-to-eat format. Grocers are already catching on – some stores have seen their sales almost double since the products became available.  

Foe Leciel, the environment is at the heart of every decision. With initiatives such as the use of LED lights and a biomass heating system derived from the circular economy, the company’s reduction in GHG emissions is equivalent to taking 3,000 cars off the road for a year. As soon as they are grown, the vegetables are transported to Quebec grocery stores in less than 24 hours. They are all free of pesticides and preservatives. Leciel also recovers 100% of the water not consumed by the plants, filtering it and reintegrating it into the greenhouses. Finally, all packaging is made from recycled materials without rigid covers to reduce the ecological footprint. 

In less than a year, the company has distributed its products on most of Quebec’s major banners. It aims to continue innovating in the world of radishes but also to diversify its large-scale vegetable production. Already, Leciel has reimagined the former cannabis drying chambers to house an equally innovative crop: lion’s mane mushrooms and pink, blue, yellow and grey oyster mushrooms. Leciel is still a producer of specialty tomatoes, growing several varieties including rose, cherry and grape. Today, with almost 10 hectares under cultivation, Leciel aims to triple its production in the medium term by adding another 20 hectares of greenhouses to its existing infrastructure, thus consolidating its position as an industry leader. 

Go to www.serresleciel.com

Harvey’s is celebrating 65 years of customized burgers with the launch of Harvey’s Burger Hunt. Starting today, the burger brand will hide 1,650 free burger cards near Harvey’s locations and iconic landmarks across the country, including four VIP Cards that will give the lucky winners free ‘Harvey’s for a year’.

On April 1 (no joke!), the homegrown chain is also kicking off a $1.65 Original Burger offer, available through Harvey’s app for a limited time to celebrate the burger that started it all.

“Harvey’s is honored to be celebrating 65 years of creating customized burgers just the way Canadians like them,” says Michael Nault, COO of Harvey’s Canada. “Delivering a personalized approach to every meal continues to be what drives us forward and we are excited to invite our guests to help us mark the occasion in a variety of fun and engaging ways.”

To add to the celebrations, starting April 1, Harvey’s will release limited-edition, retro-inspired merchandise and made-to-order t-shirts where Canadians can have their name printed between the brand’s iconic bun logo. Five dollars from each item sold will go to Tree Canada, in support of their collective goal of planting 250,000 trees by 2026.  

“Harvey’s has been a staple of quality food and great memories for many generations,” says Nault. “It’s important to us that our guests who have supported us for 65 years, and our future guests, feel part of our celebrations and continue to enjoy making their burger a beautiful thing for years to come.”  

A look at Harvey’s restaurant in 1959 and now as the brand celebrates its 65th anniversary. (CNW Group/Harvey’s)

Home-grown customization

Harvey’s was founded in 1959 by Montrealer Richard Mauran, whose vision for a made-to-order, charcoal-broiled hamburger, topped the way you like it, was a novel idea among Canadian quick-service restaurants. Nearly 300 locations later and this vision is still 20/20, offering quality, made-to-order food and millions of topping combinations. Along the way, it has expanded its menu with new options to customize, including chicken sandwiches, poutine and its famous Angus burgers.

Canadians who want to join Harvey’s in celebrating can find out more by visiting: harveys.ca.  

Wendy’s® is now serving The Plantiful™, a plant-based burger that ensures flexitarians have a protein alternative that is full of taste. The Plantiful is crafted in Canada and as a testament to the brand’s loyalty to Canadian preferences in taste and quality, Wendy’s carefully formulated its own recipe in-house, a feat that no other competitor has accomplished for plant-based burgers in the quick-service restaurant (QSR) industry.

“Plant-based product offerings have become an expectation of Canadian consumers. We developed a flexitarian option the Wendy’s Way — using high quality, flavorful ingredients — and this resulted in what we believe is the best plant-based burger available to Canadians,” says Lisa Deletroz, senior director, marketing, Wendy’s Canada. “No one does food like Wendy’s, and the idea of offering the same product as other competitors was simply not an option for the Wendy’s Canada team.”

The Plantiful patty is a pea-based protein and comes standard with lettuce, onions, pickles, tomato, mayonnaise, ketchup and a slice of cheese on a premium bun. As with all Wendy’s sandwiches, The Plantiful is made-to-order so customers can customize theirs to include or exclude any ingredients.

Wendy’s is ensuring that the evolving preferences of consumers are met with The Plantiful. As more Canadians crave new plant-based food options, Wendy’s was thoughtful in its approach to create a product with the highest standards of taste and quality, all at an approachable price.

To try the new Plantiful burger at a Wendy’s restaurant near you, visit order.wendys.com/location.