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My Foodland: Haliburton

Brad Park is a busy man. His Foodland store in Haliburton has just been renovated, and he admits he got a bit too involved. “I’d come back at night just to see the progress. It’s just part of who I am,” he says. No big surprise there—his roots in Haliburton go deep. He grew up here, lives in town, and this store was owned by his father before he took the reins in 2011.

The renovations have added more grocery options for cottagers and local residents. The deli section, Brad explains, has a larger selection within roughly the same footprint. Alongside, there’s a new hot-foods section—handy for cottagers needing a convenient meal after the drive. And, a new counter offers sushi made right there by the in-store chef. “Nothing compares to sushi that’s really fresh,” he says.

Brad’s also busy in the community. The store supports a longtime program that provides healthy breakfast and lunch options in local schools. “Some kids go to school hungry. The program is set up so no one feels singled out if they grab some fruit or cheese,” he says. Although COVID has created challenges, Brad is looking forward to participating in the program this Fall. “I love working with the volunteers who run it, they are the best.”

“Peak growing season, when local farm products first come in, is super-exciting for our store.” Brad talks to local farmers most mornings. “I can ask for green and yellow beans, 10 cases of corn and some strawberries—and then the van is at our door that afternoon. It doesn’t get fresher than that.” Brad also sees customers more often—“I think they nibble the fruit in the car and have to drive back for more.”

That fresh-picked produce—from just down the road—appeals to both the traditional grilled steak cottager and the growing number who choose organic, vegan, and other health-focused food. The grocery carts look different, says Brad, but the goal is the same. “When you go to the cottage, you treat yourself. With whatever you decide is your treat.”

Fresh for the grill

Many Foodland stores offer fresh store-made sausages, “and not just mild, hot, and honey garlic,” says Brad Park. “We have 20 recipes to choose from.” The in-store butchers make the sausages daily, grinding and mixing the meat, stuffi ng the sausage casings, and packaging them up. “Our butchers can also custom-cut your steak or whatever you want. Just ask at the meat counter.” In Port Carling, store-made kebabs are popular, as are peach chilli sausages. “The combination is a little surprising, but delicious,” says Paula Ceglie. “And they’re so easy for a cottage barbecue.”

At Haliburton Foodland, with fresh sushi, local berries, maple syrup, and a full grocery selection, you can treat yourself for your cottage weekend.