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Meat CSAs

I've signed up to receive the FoodShare Organic food box which I hope contains mostly local and seasonal vegetables and fruits. I have direct relationships with grassfed bison and elk farmers for my 'red' meats. What I'm trying to find is a sustainable farmer within the GTA watershed where I can buy a pig share. And I want the pig to have a happy and healthy life before I eat it. Can anyone help point me in the right direction?

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  1. Hi,

    can u please give us some more details about your food box, like the name of the organization (?), the price and how often it comes, and perhaps after you recieve your first box, what came in it?

    Thanks!

    I am so interested in doing this, I would love to hear about your experience

    1 Reply
    1. re: beany

      I chose the Good Food Box program from Food Share. They have about 6 different choices between $12 and $32. You pick up your box locally every two weeks. I'll pick up my first box on Feb 22. I'll let you know what happens. There's sample box listings here: ( http://www.foodshare.net/goodfoodbox0... )

    2. Thank you so much I think the wellness box will be perfect!! Please do let us know what you did recieve as the sample is from November.

      Do you also have a source for beef? I am trying so hard to change our eating habits, but it would take the perfect circumstances to be able to change.

      Thanks again :)

      14 Replies
      1. re: beany

        It may not be exactly what you're looking for, but you could check out www.beefconnections.ca . They offer direct sales from local farmers, and you can check out profiles online or contact them directly. My understanding is that they come into Toronto periodically and you meet them in a parking lot and pick up your meat. (Sounds very mysterious, but I think it's just a matter of practicality) They also have one farmer who raises pigs. If anyone tries it, I'd be very interested in hearing about the experience.

        1. re: tracey

          I just ordered 1/2 hog from beef connections, to be delivered to Bloor and Euclid on March 3. The 90b package, cut and cured as I requested, should run bout $135.
          The hogs are Duroc, and raised indoors from feed grown by the farmer, no added hormones, supplements or animal feed. The farmer, Mr. Huber of Mount Forest ON, is starting a Berkshire group as well as Duroc. I had some beef from him last December, and it has been excellent, and averaged $5/lb. The beef and pork are sustainable, as all the feed for the animals is grwn on the farm. One farmer in the group of 12 has organic beef, and another near Walkerton has purebred Angus beef. They also have summer sausage at $5/lb, and local horseradish.

          1. re: tracey

            Thanks for the BeefConnections idea. The extra info from jayt90 has convinced me to follow up this lead for pork. I'm not as interested in the beef since I have stable sources of bison and elk which I prefer over cows.

            1. re: torontovore

              The farmer, Robt. Huber delivered a few hogs to Frey's abatoir early last week, and I don't know if they are all taken. But Frey's may have other local pork to sell. They are a modern, progressive Mennonite shop. They need 3 weeks lead time from the Mar. 3 delivery date because most customers have part of the hog cured and smoked.

              1. re: jayt90

                I read Huber's webpages and I don't think his farming practices are really what I'm looking for. He appears to run a small factory farm whereas I'm hoping to find a more freerange, pastured operation. There's probably a very good ecological reason why swine can't digest soybean protein and forcing them to eat the heat-processed soybeans likely has other side consequences. It's similar to feeding cows grain instead of grass resulting in fat unhealthy cows. I know what I'm looking for is not common and will not be cheap. I will give Frey's a call since, as you mentioned, they should know of other farmers with pork to sell. Thanks again.

                1. re: torontovore

                  It will be very difficult to find free range, pastured hogs. They don't really eat grass, but root up any bushes or plants looking for grubs. As for their adaption to soy meal, that's worth looking into, but soy has been adapted to food for cats, dogs, fowl and even humans who generally despise the raw taste of the bean.

                  1. re: jayt90

                    I know it's going to be difficult, but I dream of a pig on a farm with an orchard, and just hogging out on apples instead of heat treated soy. We'll be adapting to soylent green and red soon enough.

                    1. re: torontovore

                      You are dreaming. The green apples start to fall in mid summer, and the pigs will eat them until they can't stand the cold in October, and go indoors. That leaves 8 months for dry feed. If you talked to Mr. Huber, as I did on a cold day beside his aging pick up truck, you would know that this farmer, and the other 11 in the group, are not small factory farmers.

                      1. re: jayt90

                        Yes, I do have a dream. Dry feed doesn't have to be high-heat processed soybeans. It's February now, and us humans are still eating Ontario apples (as just one example). I am quite prepared to wait until the end of summer for a good pastured hog, just as grass fed beef is best before the winter.
                        I'm only judging Mr Huber from the information on his website where he specifically says that the pigs never go outside and that he's spent a lot of money and pride on his Extruder for 'melting' soybeans. His photos make his operation look like a factory feed lot.

                        1. re: torontovore

                          Pigs stay indoors because they are subject to pneumonia in cold weather. You should be able to find grain fed pork with or without soy, perhaps from Cumbrae, but at $80 per roast rather than $2/lb delivered per half. There is no guarantee that the pigs get outdoors. Perhaps you need to find a farmer with a pet pig to sell. But you are reduced to purchasing at one time of the year, and a difficult task in finding a purveyor..

                          1. re: jayt90

                            It's not being indoors in the winter, it's the type of food they get, indoors or out. There's lots of root crops that store well. Pigs do well with a varied diet. Feeding heat treated soy is certainly a cheap solution and results in a standardized product on a predictable timetable, but probably not one the pig would naturally choose, and it's not one I choose to eat, even when processed through the pig.

                            During the summer they should have access to the outside. They are intelligent animals that need the stimulation of a varied environment to be happy. Being happy reduces stress. A stressed animal does not result in a happy meal.

                            I think it's clear that I'm not looking for a cheap pig. And since I try to follow a seasonal diet, I'm ok with waiting. I posted on Chow because I couldn't find what I wanted through general commercial outlets. One pet pig per year is fine with me. I'll freeze it and use it throughout the year just as I do with bison, elk, whatever.

                            1. re: jayt90

                              He needs to find a farmer who feeds the pigs acorns in the winter. I wonder if anyone in Canada is doing that.

            2. re: beany

              I'm not eating much beef these days Beany, but from the comments in this thread and from my own research, I'd try The Healthy Butcher ( www.thehealthybutcher.com ) at 565 Queen St. West. Their Feb newsletter says 100% grassfed beef is available. Call 416-ORGANIC and ask to speak to one of the butchers.

              1. re: beany

                Re Beany's request for details, my $32 Organic Box for late February contained:

                2 small rutabaga (local)
                5 lbs red potatoes (Pfenning's - product of CANADA)
                2 lbs carrots (Pfenning's - product of USA)
                1 broccoli (Joe Heger Farms/Desert Vegetables - El Centro, California)
                1 cauliflower (Lakeside Organic Gardens - Watsonville, California)
                3 lbs small red apples (local)
                2 avocado (Gold Vallée)
                2 grapefruit
                5 bananas (Bonita - product of ECUADOR)
                1 red leaf lettuce
                2 vine-ripe hot-house tomatoes (Covilli Brand - Calexico, California - product of MEXICO)

              2. Rowe Farms, down at the Saturday St. Lawrence Market carries pork--they might be able to hook you up with a pig share. There's also a guy there who carries wild boar (more crotchety and inconvenient boar than actually wild, the way he describes it) who might do shares. Oh, and last year at the RIverdale Farmer's Market there was a vendor who carried pork...but that's all I remember about him, other than i got some pork shoulder from him and made a lovely pulled pork with it...

                1 Reply
                1. re: TwinklyTerrapin

                  Agram Meats (10676 Trafalgar Rd, 905-877-6082) might be of interest. 2 generations grow their own feed, raise the livestock, prepare the meats, smoke sausages naturally. They do special orders as well as maintain a store. They are not certified organic due to cost but we find that they stand behind their products. Beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey. They also carry homemade pies, strusels (meat & cheese) and bacon bits.

                2. There is a meat vendor at the Dufferin Grove Market - i don't know if they are Rowe Farms or they just carry Rowe Meats? Also you can try Phil Mathewson - he runs a VERY small organic market Saturday mornings in the courtyard of St. George the Martyr (just north from John and Queen / Much Music building) - he also supplies a lot of items to various stores/restaurants in the city. He's from the Prince Edward county area, has his own farm and gets a lot of his product from local farmers in that area. He does carry a lot of meat products - always differs depending on what/who its coming from.

                  also - for anyone wanting another CSA opportunity - Plan B Organics does one too. www.planborganicfarms.ca for info

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: T.O.chowfan

                    Do you have any other contact info for Phil Mathewson? He may definitely have some leads for me. Do you know what time he opens his market on Saturdays? Is he there during the winter?

                    1. re: torontovore

                      i don't have a specific contact for him but dealt with him for a while when i lived just down the street. he's there generally from 9am to 2pm and is pretty much there every Saturday except when things come up, like perhaps snowstorms. love his bacon which comes from a neighbours farm that has only a handful of pigs. if you're looking for a fish source, he's a great one in that he often gets it from natives, as does an organic store in kensington.

                      he'd be my suggestion if you really want to know what goes down on these farms. he's also got an interesting collection of vinegars he plays with and great to chat with. be sure to rummage through his car for any items he's neglected to put out on display.

                      1. re: torontovore

                        the number i have for phil is: 647-226-2418. he should be in the city all day tomorrow - either tending to his market or making deliveries to restaurants, stores and customers

                        1. re: T.O.chowfan

                          Thanks, I appreciate the number for Phil. I wasn't able to get to him this weekend, but I will be making contact.

                    2. While not a CSA, if you're looking for locally raised, organic meats, visit Fresh From the Farm on Donlands, near O'Connor. They bring weekly shipments of meats from local Mennonite farmers. While the meat isn't "certified" organic, the ranching practices of the Mennonites make it the next best thing. You can either show up and see what they have this week or you can order in advance and pick up your order. http://www.freshfromthefarm.ca

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: TorontoJo

                        Good tip. I need to investigate Fresh From The Farm further since the website info is not 100% specific about their source farms and practices. I know it is a very expensive and time consuming procedure for small farmers to become 'certified' so I'm more interested in their actual farming philosophy. I really do want to know the individual farm (and farmer) where I buy meat from and prefer to buy a half or a whole animal and have it custom butchered and packaged to my specifications.

                        1. re: torontovore

                          I haven't had their pork, but I purchased a turkey from Fresh From the Farm for the holidays and I was very pleased.

                          1. re: torontovore

                            The couple that runs FFTF are really great and they literally drive out to Mennonite country every week and pick up the meat from the farmers there. So I'm sure that you'd be able to find out all about the individuals if you asked.

                        2. Another source of grass fed beef and organic meats is Beretta Farms. Can order direct from their website, berettaorganics.com, or buy at Longo's in the GTA or Dufferin Grove Market.

                          1. Beretta sounds like a great place! Torontovore, I'd like to know how you sourced your bison/elk. I really want to eat more game meats. I know I can buy at St. Lawrence Mkt but it can get very expensive! Also, anyone know of a source for emu/ostrich?
                            BTW, I use Front Door Organics for my veggie matter, and they're great. You can customize your entire order which is great if you're picky about veggies!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: waywardsister

                              Yes, Baretta looks pretty good from the information on their website. I'll be checking them out for sure!
                              Elk I've been buying from Lyle Renecker who has a farm out in Perth County, near Stratford. He's recently been able to broker a deal with Greenland to bring free range caribou to Canada.
                              He's at www.eatingelk.com
                              My bison has come from half a dozen Ontario farmers over the last few years. Currently I mostly deal with Bruce Mills at Blanbrook Farm, also near Stratford, and Todd Dowd who's up on the Bruce Peninsula. Contact info for both of them is at www.bisonbasics.com
                              I haven't noticed too much going on with emu and ostrich meat these days.

                            2. I need info about your relationships with bison and elk farmers. I live in the GTA area. My adopted son is Native and it appears that his birth parents may have come from the far north and that he is wheat, sugar, lactose, cooking oils, vegs, fruit, all chemicals intolerant. Because he is so high risk for diabetes and heart disease, I must get him on a diet that is as close to far north/plains Native as possible. Thus, bison + elk are vital.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: soold

                                My primary source of bison is from Bruce Mill's Blanbrook Bison Farm near St Marys, Ontario. I get my elk from Lyle Renecker's Palace Hillside Elk Farm, which is close to Stratford, Ontario. They both sell at the Stratford Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. Blanbrook Bison has a web page on http://www.bisonbasics.com and Lyle has his own website at http://eatingelk.com

                              2. I'm very glad I came across this topic...can anyone who has ordered beef from beefconnections let me know how it's packed? With that much beef, I'm wondering how it will last in the freezer; is it vaccuum packed, or just in butcher paper? How long should it last in a freezer? Cheers,

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: diesta

                                  It's wrapped in butcher paper, and should last six months. If you need more time you could re-wrap in a vacuum shrink. The beef and pork are very good, and I will be re-ordering.