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How Guelph mom and pop store became nationwide business and agriculture leader

Last week, Green Table Food was awarded a provincial Excellence in Agriculture Award

Shannel Noseworthy still remembers the days she and her three siblings would complete their homework and play at their parent’s business, Green Table Foods, 15 years ago. 

What began as a mom and pop store in Guelph in 2005 has grown into a national brand recognized for its quality products and focus on sustainability while packaging plant-based fermented foods.

Last week the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs awarded Green Table Foods an Excellence in Agriculture Award for being one of the top five provincial leaders in agriculture by demonstrating that their innovations added value to agri-food products, helped create jobs and exemplified that the province is resilient and globally competitive.

“We’re just so thrilled and thankful for the recognition. It's really great to see people enjoy what we’ve done. I mean it's been 15 years in the making so we’re happy to bring some joy into people's lives,” said Noseworthy, now the director of operations at Green Table. 

“It’s a huge honour.”

Noseworthy said when the family started Green Table Foods 15 years ago, they dreamed of making an impact on the community. She said the company’s goal was always to create products using local ingredients to ensure sustainability and support for local farmers. 

“So that's why we ensure that our products, like sauerkraut and kimchi, they're made with cabbage which is local to our region and they are Canadian products so we don't have to fly in different ingredients from outside of Ontario,” said Noseworthy. 

Green Table Food makes 12 organic living foods that include beet kraut, turmeric kraut, beets, kimchi, kale kimchi, sauerkraut, veggie pickle, pickle, mustard, salsa and carrots at its location in an industrial section of Guelph's east side. 

The products are fermented through lacto-fermentation, a simple fermentation process where the main ingredients are placed in large barrels with salt and water in order to kill the harmful bacteria. The result is a nutrient-dense product placed in glass mason jars to promote sustainability. 

“The shelf life of lacto-fermentation is a little bit shorter but that's also because it's considered a probiotic living food,” said Noseworthy. “The living food is rich in probiotics which can boost a person’s immune system.”

“Our facility is entirely sustainable and eco-friendly so that kind of sets us apart from the competition,” said Noseworthy adding that their mission is to bring joy to people’s lives through tasty food that is also good for one's health. 

Now their products are available in major Canadian grocery stores. Green Table Foods even saw a surge in business during the pandemic as sales grew over 20 per cent. The business was also able to expand its facility to meet the increase in demand.

“If anything, we were able to thrive during this time,” We were very lucky to thrive in this situation.

“We worked really hard with our three local farms,” said Noseworthy “We kept with them entirely. We did not deviate from those three main suppliers which kept us all very, very busy.”

She said all her father ever wanted to do was impact people's lives positively through food. 

“In our home, food is a huge part of family gatherings and everything that we do, we find a lot of joy in food and I think he wanted to share that with others and I think he’s done a really good job with that,” said Noseworthy adding that her 70-year-old grandmother has been a powerhouse for the business from the beginning. 

Noseworthy’s father, Joshua Whitehead and stepmother Caroline Pilon, founders of Green Table Foods, met at a seafood restaurant in Chia-Yi City, Taiwan. From then on, the two embarked on a journey to touch people’s lives through healthy food. 

“I think just through exploration and being exposed to so many different cultures, growing up in Toronto too, we were exposed to so many different cultures and so many different restaurants,” said Noseworthy.

She said she remembers the late nights and early mornings helping her father set up their business at the Guelph Farmers Market.

“Now as an adult, I get to work here and help it thrive and grow so I’ve seen it come from just selling our products at the Guelph Farmers Market all the way to now where we have a two-unit facility and we’re selling nationwide. So it's a pretty cool experience,” said Noseworthy. 


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Anam Khan

About the Author: Anam Khan

Anam Khan is a journalist who covers numerous beats in Guelph and Wellington County that include politics, crime, features, environment and social justice
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