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Question about Rowe Farms

Does anybody know about farming practices for Rowe Farms? I'm interested in getting free-range, sustainably produced meat and Rowe Farms products (chicken, beef, pork and eggs) are available in my grocery store. I don't live in Toronto, so going to places like the Healthy Butcher are not an option for me.

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  1. It's a very reputable company producing natural meats. started as a family farm, now is quite big with large distribution. i think it's now a network of farms, rather than one big farm. the animals are free of antibiotics and hormones, and graze on grass etc. places like karma co-op, which has stricter rules on the products they sell than most mainstream organic stores, carried rowe meats and eggs.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Kasia

      I buy all of my chicken from Rowe or Clements at the Sat. market, and have been for years.
      If I need last minute shopping Cumbrae carries Clements.
      I can now buy rowe eggs at Loblaws, which makes it easier .
      I trust their organic products.
      Can't even imagine feeding my family hormone laden poultry.

      1. re: erly

        I wasn't aware Canadian chicken was hormone-laden, considering this practice has been banned for quite some time.

    2. It's a big business now, with no connection to Rowe Farm. They have recently hred a CEO from Loblaws, so it will be interesting to see how they market naturally raised food in the coming months.
      I prefer to get naturally raised beef, pork and sausages from beefconections, as I can talk to the grower before I place an order.

      1. Can anyone comment on whether the farms in the Rowe Farm network use pesticides or GMO-free feed? I heard some claims from an organic retailer, but unfortunately, I can't find an official website to corroborate or contradict this assertion. For those that may be concerned about what the animals eat, does anyone have more information?

        10 Replies
        1. re: gnuf

          Consumers Health Canada, a non profit org. lists them as organic.
          You could call directly to Rowe at 519 822 8794
          They are in the Guelph area.
          Also to Jay, I am in the process of ordering bacon from the beefconnection, as suggested by the helpful people here, but I don't think that they sell poultry.
          I am always open to new suggestions for organic poultry, if anyone is aware of an alternative.
          The chickens are all to white, as compared to the golden brown grain fed chickens available in Europe.

          1. re: gnuf

            I can't say definitively, but I did overhear a conversation between a clerk and a customer about this very issue a couple days ago. The clerk explained that they can't guarantee that the feed is 100% organic - there may have been pesticides involved in the feed production. But it's definitely vegetarian feed and the animals themselves are raised naturally, in a free-run environment.

            1. re: Kitchen Imp

              i have been buying rowe farm eggs and on the carton, it says free of antibiotics but does not mention hormones.. so i checked their website just now and it doesn't clarify this. however, the website does mention they sell 2 types of eggs. their rowe farm eggs from caged hens(!) and their green valley eggs are from free run hens. i had always just assumed that eggs that are free of antibiotics (and hopefully hormones too) are always free run but I realize now that I am wrong.

              Also, I always assume organic eggs (Rowe Farm eggs are not organic) are always from free run hens... but now I am not so sure. Can anyone confirm/deny?

              1. re: helenhelen

                Hormones have been banned for 50+ years in Canadian chickens or eggs. Antibiotics cannot show up in eggs, but they are allowed in the growth stage of the bird. Here is a summary, http://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Arti...

                Organic chickens are completely drug free, although sick birds can be treated by a vet, and sold off as non organic.

                Organically raised chickens must have a free run barn floor, which can be quite crowded, and they must have access to outdoors, usually through a pet door, but the outdoors is often a concrete or dirt patch in the barnyard. A few outdoor flocks are pastured, but this is rare and costly.

                1. re: jayt90

                  according to that website then, all canadian eggs and dairy (i'm not personally concerned with meat since i'm vegetarian) are free of hormones and antibiotics, including standard non-organic supermarket fare. is this really true? i deduced this from the following:

                  "In Canada, growth hormones are only given to beef cattle (and not dairy cattle). There are no growth hormones used in poultry or pork production."

                  but then also:

                  "Dairy cattle do not receive growth hormones so you do not need to limit conventional milk or milk products."


                  "For animal products, if a cow is treated with antibiotics because of an infection, the milk they produce while being treated is not sold."

                  therefore, all dairy products in canada are hormone and antibiotic free?

                  and with regards to eggs:

                  "There are no growth hormones used in poultry or pork production."


                  "When hens are given antibiotics, the eggs they lay are thrown away."

                  therefore, all eggs produced in canada are free of hormones or antibiotics?

                  i find this hard to believe though. is this really true? am i missing something in my interpretation of what is stated on the website?

                  1. re: helenhelen

                    This is exactly why organic milk in Canada is nothing but a marketing scam.

                    1. re: sbug206

                      I'm confused sbug206. Why is organic milk in Canada a marketing scam? Do cows that produce organic milk not receive organically grown feed?

                      Can you elaborate??

                    2. re: helenhelen

                      I believe you interrupted the info correctly. Might be hard to believe that egg producers throw away eggs but that is an other question.
                      Is there any evidence that anyone has ever been harmed by beef with hormones in it? I assume this would have to be US information.

                      1. re: Herne

                        Herne, I have often seen USDA beef for sale, and USDA pork, in sale bins especially at NoFrills. Whenever back ribs go on sale, in any supermarket, they are often wrapped in cryovac and clearly marked USDA. I admit to buying the pork ribs, but never the U.S. beef. I guess I should find out more about what goes into USDA pork and beef. Even Costco and Loblaws sell USDA Choice (roughly equivalent to Canada AAA) beef from time to time.

                        1. re: Herne

                          if you google bovine growth hormone, you should get some info..

              2. I'm not in a position to comment about the farming practices of Rowe Farms, other than to note that I do see their products in stores that claim to exercise close oversight.

                I AM in a position to say that I do not find the products from Rowe Farms to be of especially high quality. The red meats are banal, the chickens are very white (oddly so if naturally raised and minimally processed) and not especially flavourful, and the deli products lack any savour. YMMV.

                18 Replies
                1. re: embee

                  Do you have another organic chicken suggestion?
                  As you can see, I am in total agreement with you on the "white" chickens.
                  Clements are the same colour, as are all non-organic..
                  Would like to find the golden brown (organic) chickens, which are much tastier, but have not had any luck.
                  Have not had a really "great" chicken in many years.
                  The real tell-tale slide in chicken quality is the capon.
                  Once a heavenly delight, but now not much different in taste to the roaster..

                  1. re: erly

                    Check out Beretta Organic Farms. Their products are carried at some Toronto Stores (eg. The Butcher's--on Yonge across from Sporting Life), or you can order online. Lots of variety and not too expensive. http://www.berettaorganics.com/

                    1. re: Yongeman

                      A quick look at the Beretta website does not say much about the raising of their poultry, or even if they do it. The birds are raised like their pigs and cattle. Could be indoors, with a bit of outdoor exposure.
                      Price points from Beretta are reasonable but there is a minimum order of $150.
                      Has anyone tried chicken from Butchers on Yonge?

                      I'll definitely be trying Dominion"s trsditionally raised chicken, now that embee says it tastes very good.

                      1. re: jayt90

                        Beretta's is widely available at retail in normal retail packaging. I know that the Big Carrot sells it and I'm sure I've seen it occasionally at some supermarkets. Again, the fresh products have not been special and the deli stuff has been very poor. It's really discouraging.

                        As to the Dominion product, I've had it several times, simply roasted, and it was good each time. A friend just made one and wasn't impressed. Please advise of your experience.

                        1. re: embee

                          Just tried the Dominion chicken and it was good, but no better than Maple Leaf grain fed birds. Both are battery raised, just as Beretta's. Beretta may have a picture of hens outdoors, but they don't give us any details so I am assuming indoors, and not even their farm. They may achieve organic status by allowing a few hours of outdoor activity per week. That's what the hogs get, as there only need be a minimal pasture available to several hundred animals per farm (they are very destructive and do less damage inside.)

                          Free ranging hens are difficult to raise, as there are predators (Beretta mentions this), so a brief outdoor exposure per week will meet the organic requirement.

                          1. re: jayt90

                            In theory, all kosher chickens are free ranging. However, I do emphasize the "in theory". You can open the door, but you can't assume the chicken wants to go outside :-) I don't think caged battery raised chickens can be certified kosher.

                            Unfortunately, none of the locally available kosher chickens are really wonderful. I'm also not aware of any local distributor of kosher chickens that makes an "organic" claim.

                            I have seen comments in several different places about producers deciding to keep chickens indoors because of avian flu concerns. Some of the arguments seem plausible, but I'm not in any position to validate any particular claims.

                        2. re: jayt90

                          If you read how the pigs and cattle are raised, in the two paragraphs above the poultry description ( http://www.berettaorganics.com/about/... ), it appears that they have plenty of access to the outdoors. I haven't been there, but that appears to be integral to the raising of their livestock.
                          Some Beretta meat products were being sold at the Dufferin Grove market last year, not sure about this year. I buy lean and extra lean ground beef via a co-op at about $3.99/lb.

                      2. re: erly

                        I started to think about this and realized, shockingly, that I was almost stumped.

                        The colour of the chicken skin doesn't have much relationship to a chicken's provenance or quality. It can be manipulated easily through diet. Perdue chickens (one of the poorest quality brands in the US) have a vivid yellow skin due to, supposedly, marigold petals in their diet. Some producers may manipulate skin colour in ways that are not benign. But I don't know how one would get the shockingly white skin colour except by bleaching it in some way during wet processing. This was the norm in Ontario 30 years ago and things have actually improved since then.

                        Meat on the Beach has really good chickens and is emphasizing naturally raised and organic products. But I don't know for sure whether these birds are, in fact, organic. Ernesto, the owner, would know, but much of their staff lacks both product knowledge and communication skills.

                        Dominion sells some chickens labeled "traditionally raised". There are claims regarding diet and drugs, though I doubt these products would merit the "naturally raised" designation. They are certainly not organic. But they taste VERY good.

                        I've also heard good things about Fresh From the Farm, though I haven't tried their chickens. Again there are claims about provenance, but no actual certifications.

                        1. re: erly

                          The jury is not out on Rowe Farms with me. I haven't had any of their red meat, I love their bacon, breakfast sausage and Toulouse. There eggs are fine, for the price, apparently the chickens are in high density cages. Quality aside I am not sure of their farming practices and have sent them two emails with questions, no response. I will follow them up with a phone call when I get around to it.
                          As for where to find those beautiful chickens, Vince Gasparro's at 857 Bloor Street West but they run out quickly, Max the Butcher on Baldwin at Augusta and Butcher By Nature at 520 Annette St are my faourites.

                          1. re: chef_vegabond

                            I was under the impression that the Rowe Farms "Green Valley" eggs come from free-run hens rather than caged.

                            Rowe Farms
                            912 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M, CA

                            1. re: freebee

                              When I read their description of the hens' living area, it comes out as a large barn floor with droppings, (maybe there is straw, periodic cleaning). The hens can run freely, but are their beaks clipped so they won't peck each other? Don't know.
                              All we do know is that they run freely indoors.

                              1. re: jayt90

                                I spoke at length about this with one of the butchers. I was told that the eggs sold at Rowe Farms storefronts come from hens who spend 30% of their lives out-of-doors, which is a lot considering the weather here.

                                1. re: Kitchen Imp

                                  That doesn't say anything about the conditions they are in for the remaining 70%. Nor does it explain why some of the eggs they sell (one of the two options commonly found in grocery stores) are clearly labelled as coming from standard caged product. (The other carton indicates the eggs are from "free-run" hens.)

                                  1. re: Full tummy

                                    I don't know anything about their eggs in grocery stores - as noted in my post, I only heard about eggs sold at Rowe Farms shops themselves. Sounds like it's an entirely different product, which I agree is misleading.

                        2. re: embee

                          What kind of deli products are you looking for? I think Fresh From the Farm's suppliers do a good job with products such as bacon, fresh sausage and probably summer sausage (haven't actually tried theirs but generally the Mennonites' summer sausage is awesome). Maybe not gourmet, but good quality simple stuff that presumably they've been making for years rather than recently capitilizing on a demand for naturally raised meat.

                          Of course as you mention they only have claims as to how the meat is raised, no certification, and I don't know if all ingredients for the deli would pass muster.

                          I know I bought some Rowe Farms summer sausage on a whim and it was indeed tasteless and rubbery. And it still had nitrite.

                          1. re: julesrules

                            I'm less concerned with organic cred than with taste. I'd start with simple things such as, say, beef franks, beef salamis, and smoked turkey. I don't eat pork. I've found the Rowe and Beretta stuff to be awful.

                            1. re: embee

                              I am aware of the perdue chickens ghastly yellow colour.
                              Grain fed chicken have a natural golden brown, that only extreme bleaching would destroy.
                              I spend a great deal of time in Europe (business), and the chickens there have the grain fed look and taste.
                              My parents bought Kosher chickens , and they were always delicious (needed additional plucking, as feathers were never entirely removed).
                              I went that route, but although not as white, the several brands I tested were better than supermarket standards, but not organic.
                              As of my last inquiry, there is no organic kosher chicken on the market, and in this instance, I will stay with the less tasty organics.
                              I have noticed that Clements wasn't mentioned by anyone else.
                              They gave up their organic label, as they didn't want the additional cost, but welcome a visit to their farm.
                              Now the sceptics are making me nervous about Rowe's, I will stick to Clements until something better comes along.

                              1. re: embee

                                I'm going to grab some Berkshire pork from them today. I'll let post back on here with a report on how it tasted.

                          2. Local Flavour Plus seems to be compiling a reasonable local/organic list to start with. It's the most lame website I've seen in a while, but if they keep up the info it's appreciated. Hope this helps.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Googs

                              I agree with the comment on Rowe Farm. I used to buy from them years ago, but it was never clear to what degree they were natural/organic. My experience with the Butcher was similar - I found the chiken watery.

                              I am now raising some laying hens, and what I can tell you is that the difference in the price of organic feed versus conventional feed is HUGE. Anyone selling "natural" is not buying organic feed. I try to buy organic chicken directly from a small farmer. My favourite Toronto shop is the Healthy Butcher on Queen Street.

                              1. re: Googs

                                The weblink goes to something rather unsavoury now. Here's the new one:

                              2. Karma Co-Op is a shop here in Toronto that has a reputation for doing their homework when it comes to what they stock on their shelves. They've discontinued Rowe Farm eggs.
                                From my experiences the vast majority of eggs from Rowe Farms have originated from Sweda Farms in Blackstock, ON. This is a farm that has 90 000 egg laying chickens. Sounds like battery hens to me all for the price of free range.

                                25 Replies
                                1. re: chef_vegabond

                                  No more Rowes.
                                  I refuse to purchase eggs from caged Chickens.
                                  How can they still have their organic label??
                                  I rarely purchased them in any case, only when I couldn't get down to the Sat. market

                                  1. re: erly

                                    I've also heard that Rowe managed to dupe Loblaws into a huge multi-year contract selling "organically raised' chickens instead of "Organic" (ie. certified) chickens.

                                    Loblaws didn't realize the differentiation until afterwards.

                                    1. re: aser

                                      The CEO at the investment company calling the shots at Rowe came from Loblaw.

                                      Since the public by and large knows about battery birds in cages producing their eggs, I don't understand why large producers don't make an effort to give us free range eggs at a reasonable cost, in major supermarkets. Is it too much to ask for?

                                      1. re: jayt90

                                        I don't think the public does know about battery birds producing Rowe eggs. I have been purchasing free range/run eggs for years now and had been purchasing the Rowe eggs for a time, thinking they couldn't be selling eggs from caged birds, and only with the labelling system did I recently discover that I was paying a premium for what might as well have been any one of the much cheaper varieties. I now check the eggs I buy more rigorously.

                                        So, I would be surprised if there aren't a lot of people buying Rowe eggs under the assumption that they couldn't possibly be from caged birds (given Rowe's stated commitment to humane treatment of animals)....

                                    2. re: erly

                                      i may be wrong but i always thought that 'organic certified' did not mean cage-free or pastured. i always assumed that organic certified meant no hormones, no GMO or unorganic feed, no antibiotics. pastured eggs have to be labelled as such, otherwise one should assume that the chickens were cages, but simply had healthier feed. i don't believe rowe makes any claims on their eggs packaging about the chickens being pastured, or 'free range,' do they?

                                      of course, their website, with the pastoral images and so on, is highly suggestive of the more traditional farming practices, but the actual claims you find on the website and packaging are much more limited, and seem to reflect the 'organic big business' nature of the affiliated farms (conventional farming with adaptations for organic feed and less medicated livestock).

                                      it's still better than conventional farming environmently and for our health, but they're not the gold standard of local sustainable and humane farming.

                                      1. re: Kasia

                                        The main point of contention is their deceptive marketing. Profiting off a false sense of responsible farming.

                                        They're not breaking any laws, but they're not exactly being forthright either.

                                        1. re: Kasia

                                          Kasia, the website clearly states "All of our animals are raised...in a humane and low-stress environment..." It also states that "our hens have free mobility and access to food within a large indoor facility". And yet, the eggs I was buying were labelled as standard caged product, or some such description. I find the whole thing quite confusing and deliberately unclear.

                                          1. re: Full tummy

                                            perhaps my point didn't come across right - i agree that rowe's marketing is deceptive. i think the promise of 'free mobility' is one such attempt - it's vague enough to make us imagine free running birds with lots of space, and perhaps some natural surroundings, but i think what it really means is a large room with lots of birds packed in it, who can perhaps move around a bit more than conventionally caged birds, but hardly the pastured chickens picking bugs and grass outdoors we likely picture.

                                            rowe farms does exactly what big organics do and what whole foods and other such retailers do - minimize the actual meaning of the labelling of their products, and maximize the fantasy of the pastoral farms to get the customer to buy products from suppliers that fall far short of what a humane and sustainable farming practices should be.

                                            1. re: Kasia

                                              Rowe seems pretty straightforward on their website that their birds are raised in a "conventional commercial setting" and are "intensively farmed" and they even provide the size of the cages.

                                              I'm trying to picture what this means. Do four or five hens brood each of these cages but can leave and do a walk-a-about inside a giant indoor barn-like setting? Because they are also apparently free run.

                                              1. re: JamieK

                                                Rowe is ambiguous at best, but 18x18"doesn't seem very humane, definitely not organic, or even naturally raised.

                                                Clements at SLM seems to be more like a traditional, old time barn.

                                                Any eggs purchased at this time of year will be from indoors. I believe that organic has to have a free run floor, and access to outside through an opening.

                                                1. re: JamieK

                                                  Hi JamieK,

                                                  Actually, I don't see that Rowe indicates the size of their cages.

                                                  They clearly state that "in a conventional commercial setting, laying hens are...farmed in 18x18" cages, with 4-5 hens per cage", and then they contrast that with "our hens have free mobility and access to food within a large indoor facility". How large? How many hens? It does not say.

                                                  What I don't understand is why Rowe Farm has two differently labelled eggs selling at Loblaws/Superstores now. One clearly states "from free-run hens", and the other eggs are stamped as being from "regular caged product". "Regular caged product" is considered the lowest grade of egg, in terms of the living conditions of the bird.

                                                  The free-run eggs are more expensive than the latter. Yet, the website doesn't even address the possibility that you can buy Rowe Farms "regular caged product" eggs. It clearly states "our eggs are raised from free-run hens". That is deceptive.

                                                  Check the eggs out in-store, people. Maybe I'm wrong, but hubby and I both checked the label and were shocked (truly) to discover that we had been paying a premium for "regular caged product", and I now only buy the Rowe Farm eggs clearly labelled "from free-run hens".

                                                  1. re: Full tummy

                                                    I agree with you that we've been mislead with the way information is provided and products labelled.

                                                    I'm still trying to understand the issue and the process. When you say you don't see Rowe indicates the size of their cages, I'm surmising that the "18x18" they reference is not actually a size of cage? Something different, that I'm missing? I'm honestly trying to understand, please don't mis-read me. Thanks.

                                                    1. re: JamieK

                                                      Hi JamieK,

                                                      Yes, I think we are all trying to understand, because it isn't clear. Perhaps intentionally so. If Rowe Farms were really able to make a case for how much better their hens lived, wouldn't they provide photos, footage, diagram of how their hens live? Some real evidence. They've got the money... Or do they just have the money to promote themselves to people who may not look deeper, question further...

                                                      Instead, what they've written provides no substantial information but leaves you feeling that life is good at Rowe Farms.

                                                      To clarify their explanation as I understand it, in conventional commercial settings (something Rowe Farm is differentiating itself from) laying hens live in small 2.25 square foot cages, with four to five hens in each of those cages. This means less than one square foot of space per bird. It doesn't surprise me that conventional commercial settings keep hens like this, which is why I have always bought Rowe Farm (or other free-run/free-range) eggs. I don't understand, therefore, how the Rowe Farm eggs I have purchased until recently were clearly labelled as from "regular caged product", as I said, the lowest graded living conditions for hens. This information was stamped on the eggs, and the explanation for the meaning of the stamp was on the inside of the lid of the carton of eggs I purchased. I had just never examined the stamp before (it was actually my husband who drew my attention to it).

                                                      I, too, am confused, alas, both by the lack of clear explanation of Rowe Farms practices, and by the fact that I can buy "regular caged product" under the "Rowe Farms" label. Is it smoke and mirrors? It does feel that way to me...

                                                      1. re: Full tummy

                                                        It has become ever clearer with the passage of time that my initial reservations about Rowe Farms were valid. Their PR is long on image and short on details. They seem to sell some products that are raised under humane conditions, but there are few hardcore claims that you can really pin down. It's all just a marketing plan. There's no sign of any real conscience in their operation.

                                                        1. re: Full tummy

                                                          Are the caged eggs available at the Rowe stores or just Loblaws under the Rowe name? if they are not sold at Rowe stores that may explain the website lack of info on the subject.

                                                          1. re: OnDaGo

                                                            The Rowe store in Leslieville didn't seem to be selling caged eggs, but I haven't looked inside the boxes to check for stamps on the eggs.

                                                            At Loblaws, I noticed one variety that mentioned free ranging on the box and another, adjacent, variety that didn't. Once again, I did not look inside the boxes.

                                                            If they are selling "regular caged product", why the secrecy of stating this only INSIDE the box? While this might insulate them from any truth in labeling issues, it seems to me a total perversion of what they claim to be.

                                                            1. re: embee

                                                              I'm surprised Rowe Farms would subscribe to Verified Eggs Canada, seeing as to what a dead giveaway it is that their eggs are in fact from battery hens. Another confusing part of their web site is that these eggs from "free run hens that live in a low stress environment" are under the label Green Valley from Rowe Farms. Karma Co-Op has discontinued that very label based on their concern for animal welfare.
                                                              Such a shame, when I saw the number 3 on my egg I was in such disbelief, I was raised on Rowe Farms, I wanted to believe in them.
                                                              It's one thing to mislead but is this not a clear case of false advertising? Does 90 000 egg laying hens (I actually looked the farm up on google earth and it's not that big) qualify as "free run" and in a "low stress environment"?

                                                              1. re: chef_vegabond

                                                                This thread is very timely. I just bought my first carton of Rowe eggs from the organic section at Loblaws--in my haste I neglected to *read* the carton, and lazily assumed that being from the organic fridge, they'd be free-range at the very least.

                                                                Chef_vegabond, I had the exact same moment on the weekend when I saw the number 3 on my egg.

                                                                I'm very disappointed, and am writing Loblaws to tell them to move these eggs to the "conventional" fridge.

                                                                1. re: Olivia

                                                                  I found this on the eggs trace web site,
                                                                  All members of Verified Eggs Canada are required to provide an increased level of welfare for their birds, including more space per bird, proper access to feed and water, and adherence to Federal protocols for caged and cage-free hens.
                                                                  Nevertheless, the farm I always find on Rowe Farm's eggs 9 times out of 10 houses 90 000 hens. I'm not convinced. Karm Co Op has discontinued them but still stock their meat and poultry and they stock Homestead Farms "free run" eggs for about the same price one pays for Rowe Farms.
                                                                  Thank you for writing to Loblaws, our voice must be heard!

                                                              2. re: embee

                                                                HI embee, I have the "free-run" labelled egg carton in front of me. Is that what you saw? (I only ask because I don't recall any "free-range" eggs from Rowe.)

                                                                1. re: Full tummy

                                                                  Probably. I do not buy Rowe Farms eggs.

                                                      2. re: JamieK

                                                        hey jamie,
                                                        sounds to me like the website is saying that Rowe does NOT use a conventional setting with 18"X18" cages with 4-5 hens in each. This entire paragraph is very confusing.

                                                        1. re: freebee

                                                          Yes, you are correct. They are trying to say their hens are not raised in a conventional setting. I misread it the first time. I agree that paragraph could be re-jigged to be more clear.

                                                    2. re: Full tummy

                                                      First of all, there's no standard by which the term 'free range' specifically refers to and no standard that any farmer subscribes to. So unless you the consumer, have your own paradigm of what is considered acceptable and have access to just exactly how much range said chickens are allowed to roam, being steadfast about this term is moot. I have an uncle that works as a city health inspector and one that owns his own food manufacturing business and as explained by them, in Ontario, the term 'free range' applying to poultry, means that the bird has roughly 2 feet of range to roam. 2 feet ain't a lot.

                                                      So the problem lays in the consumer's understanding or paradigm of what free range is. I think a lot of people when they hear this term, think of chickens running around on a hectare of land, trying to avoid capture by the Farmer in the Dell. I can pretty much guarantee you that this isn't the case. The majority of chicken farms will very rarely if ever, let the birds roam this free and far. It's too risky for a business to do so.

                                                      However, if the ethics of farming play a very large role in the meat you consume I think the surefire way of knowing this is to purchase directly from a local farm. Investigate and you will find some that will butcher meat for you (I remember my parents used to buy half cows from a farm close to Kitchener when i was a kid) and package it into any cut you desire. It's expensive and it's time consuming. But if you value principle over profit, then this is the route to go.

                                                      1. re: goodcookiedrift

                                                        Hi goodcookiedrift,

                                                        Thanks for your input. While there may be a lack of clarity with respect to such labels, it is my understanding from a variety of sources, that the industry is trying to create some clarity. I have read in various places that there is supposed to be a difference between free-run and free-range. One such place: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servle...

                                                        My question to embee was to clarify what I have seen in the packaging and to be sure there isn't a third way that Rowe Farm labels their eggs.

                                                        I have for sure bought meats directly from farms. Generally, I have received frozen orders to the home. Sometimes the meat has been satisfactory; sometimes it was poorly cut. Eggs, on the other hand, cannot be purchased in large quantities and frozen, and convenience dictates more what is available to me; I am doing my best to satisfy my principles with the options I have that are relatively close to home.

                                              2. Was just at Fiesta Farms, Chef Vegabond like many others is on a bit of a tight budget as of late. Saw some eggs labeled Foodland Ontario, 18 for just over $4.00, extra large. They are said to be from caged chickens but each chicken is given a space of 67 by 75 inches. So I picked some up, took them home to find the code 3ca1060, the vast majority of where Rowe Farms gets their eggs from. Just thought I'd share it with the rest of you.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: chef_vegabond

                                                  Thanks. There is no good reason to hide behind codes.

                                                  1. re: chef_vegabond

                                                    I entered that code into the producer field at www.eggsactrace.com, and it said the egg is from Sweda Farms, in Blackstock, Ontario. (You mention above that this is where Rowe Farms get their eggs...


                                                    Would you mind sharing where you got the information about cage size, as there is no information about that on the eggsactrace website. That seems like an awfully large space per chicken in what we have understood till now to be "regular caged product"--we're talking 35+ square feet.

                                                    1. re: Full tummy

                                                      Fiesta Farms has a large selection of eggs, many who are part of the whole eggstrace program. The store itself has put up a sign stating that although they are "regular cage products" that the chickens are in fact in low density cages and gave the measurements. Surely I must of read it too fast as you said that is a lot of space for one bird. They must of said per several birds. Will check again.

                                                    2. re: chef_vegabond

                                                      That is how I buy my eggs as well at Fiesta. 18 verified eggs for $4.00 is a great deal.

                                                    3. You may want to check out Dingo Farms. Jamie Kennedy gets all his meat from them. non GMO feed, no hormones, (flax, field pies, mustard and canola for their feed). The animals grow in an open concept stress free environment. They are also pasture raised.

                                                      They've also been featured on tvo.

                                                      1. I noticed that my carton of Rowe Farm eggs this week did not contain any egg codes. The carton from 2 weeks ago had a 0CA1047 listed as the producer. I looked it up at verifiedeggs.com and this particular set came from the Van Aert Farm (Watford Ontario). On the website it stated that they're certified organic eggs.

                                                        I never knew that they sold regular cage eggs under the organic section. That's quite deceiving. From now on I will check the carton before I make a purchase.

                                                        I also spoke to George (de Andrade(?)) who sells organic produce at the Farmer's Market at St. Lawrence and he explained the difference between free range and free run. He basically said that with free run eggs, the hens are housed inside with access to an open window for fresh air. With free range, they're allowed to go outside. He said by law if you have more than 50 birds you have to keep them indoors and the best way to get free range eggs is from a local farm with less than 50 birds. George also said that in the spring he sells free range eggs.

                                                        7 Replies
                                                        1. re: piggyxoxo

                                                          If Rowe is selling "regular caged product", and they are, it seems to me a total perversion of what they claim to be. Their marketing is completely legal, even though very deceptive. They are extremely clever marketers, but I have no respect for the reality of Rowe Farms.

                                                          The also seems to be a significant gap between what the egg marketing board wants (based on real or exaggerated fears of avian flu") and a real (though niche) market demand for real free range eggs.

                                                          1. re: embee

                                                            I still like Gasparro's on Bloor near Ossington. They visit the small Mennonite farms they purchase from. You can talk to them about the farm conditions, and the freshness and quality of the meat. It has a wonderful old fashioned charm that has been lost in modern times due to big industry.

                                                            As a food industry professional, I know first hand what happens behind the scene when big business tries to capitalize on the organic/natural market. I'd like to caution all about the trap of certifications and marketing. Just because a food product is labeled organic does not mean its:
                                                            -better for you
                                                            -better for the planet
                                                            -better for the animals

                                                            It usually means that you are paying more money for a fancy stamp and for the administrative cost of having an organic inspector look at some paperwork to verify that in writing you say%90 of the recipe contains organic and complying with some basic material handling and sanitation expectations....once a year. You have to consider all factors, and look behind the marketing. Look at whether the item is overly packaged, or look at the $$$ spent designing the ROWE FARMS stores. Then you are mostly paying for the interior and graphic designers and marketers and materials to make that carton of eggs or that store look 'SEXY and ECO-FRIENDLY'. Is the product from a large corporation like ROWE FARMS? Then you are not going to have a feel good connection to the farm. They are now middle men buying from many sources, based on market price fluctuations. In general, if you are concerned about the quality of your food, get closer to it, don't rely on big business to provide an alternative.

                                                            1. re: jnine

                                                              Don't know if this is helpful but a couple of years ago received a pamphlet on many green initiatives in Ontario, and there were a couple of pages devoted to Rowe Farms. The owner, Ken Rowe, explained that he does not let the chickens outdoors because of Avian Flu concerns. Perhaps some of you have more info than this, but thought I would pass it along, for what it's worth.

                                                              1. re: nikey

                                                                Was just looking at the Rowe Farm website again, specifically at the section on egg production. It does not say that their eggs are from caged hens. It says that "conventional commercial" eggs, that is those that do not claim to be organic, come from 4-5 hens in a single 18"X18" cage. On the other hand, it says that their (Rowe Farm) chickens "have free mobility and access to food within a large indoor facility." Again, I hope this helps.

                                                                1. re: nikey

                                                                  That is true of most egg farms, and, while I would prefer the chickens be running around freely outside, I realize this is not practical. I would be fine with Rowe Farm eggs if I believed the chickens were all humanely treated, even if they had to be indoors, with ample space to move, roost, nest, etc., However, when I buy Rowe Farm eggs from a grocery store and note that they are labelled as being from "standard caged product" or whatever the term is, I am not happy and don't understand how this fits in with the stated Rowe Farms philosophy.

                                                            2. re: piggyxoxo

                                                              piggyxoxo, where is George's farm? I think we need a list of farm gate free range sellers, which would useful for weekend drives near GTA. Is anyone seriously afraid of Avian flu in Ontario, except the Egg Marketing Board?

                                                              1. re: jayt90

                                                                I've been buying eggs at both Everdale Organic Farm in Hillsburgh www.everdale.org and Whole Circle Farm www.wholecirclefarm.ca in Acton, both within an hour's drive of Toronto. The eggs are delicious and I no longer use store-bought eggs.

                                                                And there are numerous farms in the region that naturally raise all variety of animals which they sell directly at the farm. Blue Haven Farm is just one: www.bluehavenfarm.moonfruit.com

                                                            3. just found this useful info about what the terms and labels all mean:


                                                                1. re: EverymanJack

                                                                  Me too, and the little bugger likes their bacon too. I'll pay more for their chicken and eggs any day of the week. Don't know why everyone thinks there's some sort of a conspiracy with them though lol

                                                                  1. re: dannyboy

                                                                    Conspiracy theory? Hardly. Personally, I prefer a measurable standard to anecdote. They can write anything they like about their wares. Why don't they prove it? 32 pages of organic vendors in Canada, and I don't seem to see Rowe.

                                                                    1. re: Googs

                                                                      Because they don't claim to be organic, perhaps?
                                                                      I think they're more about raising animals free run and without hormones etc., if they label something specific organic I'd suspect it would be however i shop there all the time and the two main reasons i do so are 1. the fact i'm putting a less tainted meat into my body (which is traceable as they identify where all the farmers they buy from are etc.) and 2. because i'm willing to pay a few bucks more to think the animals i eat didn't live in cages or were treated like shite their whole lives. Not rocket science.
                                                                      If you want organic go ahead, but that isn't what they're doing.

                                                                      1. re: dannyboy

                                                                        dannyboy, if you read Rowe's information, there are two types of eggs, Rowe Farms regular, from caged hens, and Rowe Farms Green Valley, from hens roaming on a barn floor. If I was a customer, I would ask whether the Green Valley hens are debeaked, as the conditions may be crowded. Here is the link http://www.rowefarms.ca/eggs.html

                                                                        1. re: dannyboy

                                                                          No, dannyboy, they make every claim possible that would infer organic without using the word. Organic is a certifiable standard. Marketing buzz words are cheap. Make them prove it.

                                                                          1. re: Googs

                                                                            Wow, Googs, you seem to have a real hate-on for Rowe Farms. When I looked at their website, there is no attempt to 'infer organic'. I'm not sure why you have that impression. Here is a link to their" phi(l)osophies" http://www.rowefarms.ca/phiosophies.html

                                                                            1. re: Yongeman

                                                                              he's ready to expose it's all actually a front for a joint venture between sinopec and monsanto corporation :S

                                                                              1. re: Yongeman

                                                                                I have no emotions about Rowe at all. They may be everything they say they are. Then again, maybe not. As with any company, transparency is the only thing that can make them trustworthy. I have no intention of whipping out my phone to run a background check on farmers while standing in a store. How ridiculous. How about they list their other suppliers in full on their website? Why on earth would anyone believe any company just because they say it's so? Green washing is rampant for a reason.

                                                                            2. re: dannyboy

                                                                              you guys may be completely right in your suspicions - all i'm saying is it doesn't make sense a business model that seems to be all about sustainable ethical farming etc. is simply a cover for the exact opposite behavior. It's just a bunch of farmers doing things a little cleaner and more humanely from what i can see and selling through the Rowe 'branding'. If because it's taken off their PR is a little slicker than some are comfortable with than so be it. I'm okay taking their word on it i guess, as i don't get why the need to fib, as they are identifying their farms etc. and i'm sure one could drive out to one and verify with the guy and that. Also, if shadiness or misleading stuff came out the whole joint would fall like a house of cards and why risk it when it's taken off?... I figure there's alot better people in the food business to be suspicious of.

                                                                              1. re: dannyboy

                                                                                It's becoming like Hollywood in the same way they market movies as "based on" or "inspired by" a true story. "Naturally raised" is most definitely not the same as "certified organic". In fact in Canada, all poultry and pork is by law required to be raised without the use of growth hormones so any marketing to the tune of "free from hormones" is just that...marketing. They're simply abiding by the law. There's a lot of this misleading advertising about these days. However, if you read the fine print, most labels advertising free from hormones etc, you'll notice the phrase "as all chicken/pork in Canada".

                                                                                As far as eggs go, "free run" and "free range" are two different things. Free range means they have access to the outdoors. There's no specific definition however as to the size of the area of outdoors they have access to. It could literally be a two square feet patch of grass. When we hear "free" and "range" though, we think of verdant pastures a la Sound of Music where chickens are frolicking about well, freely laying eggs as they naturally please. Free run just means they have the ability to move freely around the barn they're raised in. Again, because there's no legal definition as to the space given for them to "run" around in, all chickens in Canada are "free run".

                                                                                It's all about being educated and making the right choice for you. I will say that organic eggs are SO much better and although I've eaten Rowe's in the past, I'm now buying nothing but organic, free range, naturally raised, inspired by a true story eggs.


                                                                                  1. re: helenhelen

                                                                                    Hi helenhelen, we're actually on a bit of a quest to find the perfect egg since we enjoy a good weekend fry-up. The ones my wife got from Sorauren Market were very good but I've since been told that the brand packaging they came in was a big store type brand (jury's still out as to whether the carton was simply used as a recycled container though). If I could help it, I'd buy from a farm up north somewhere alongside old hwy 7 or such. Maybe Stouffville market has a good dairy vendor...anyone?


                                                                                  2. re: NonStickSteel

                                                                                    But as jayt90 rightly pointed out, the way to determine if hens are leading a stressful existence due to overcrowding is to find out if they have been debeaked. It's not so important to me to know if they get to walk around outside in space of a certain size - if the farmer does not have to debeak the hens, and they are running around freely, then that says a lot. I grew up on a farm, and our hens could pretty much run off as far as they wanted, though they generally stuck to the barnyard. In the winter, though, they spent some days entirely indoors, and their pens weren't very large. They weren't stepping on each other, though, and they certainly didn't have to be debeaked.

                                                                                1. re: dannyboy

                                                                                  I tried to see if they fed their animals GMOs, head office told me they "try to avoid it."

                                                                          2. I'm going to bring this timely thread up again. This is not in regards to their farming practices but about their labour practices. Rowe Farms opened up a store in the Beaches, they were looking for a store manager, compensation was $13-15 an hour.
                                                                            I am just as concerned about animal welfare as I am about human and I thought chow hounders would be interested to know that one.

                                                                            36 Replies
                                                                            1. re: chef_vegabond

                                                                              Considering what they charge for their meat and veggies, not to mention their condiments, that's pretty mean spirited.

                                                                              1. re: TorontoTuna

                                                                                A venture capital company is part of the deal behind Rowe Farms.

                                                                              2. re: chef_vegabond

                                                                                What is the going salary for a store manager? Not sure it's any more. Rowe Farms is a business. Lose sight of that, and it's not going to last.

                                                                                1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                  You can even survive in Toronto on $15/hr unless you live in your parent's basement. What sort of person do they expect to find?

                                                                                  1. re: foodyDudey

                                                                                    My sister was a store manager with approximately that salary until a few years ago. While she worked full time, she shared an apartment with someone else, put herself through school part time, and saved enough to buy a house. But she is very good with money.

                                                                                      1. re: yakionigiri

                                                                                        Not a house in Toronto and not in 2014.

                                                                                        1. re: yakionigiri

                                                                                          Yes, a small bungalow four years ago near Woodbine subway station.

                                                                                        2. re: Full tummy

                                                                                          They weren't looking for someone who is committed for the long term.

                                                                                      2. re: Full tummy

                                                                                        When I used to work as a meat clerk, my department manager made about $25.xx/hr. This was in a chain based grocery store btw.

                                                                                        1. re: asagiri

                                                                                          With a union, no doubt. Hard to compare the two.

                                                                                          1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                            The Costco meat cutters get $25/hour plus benefits, and no union dues, just a democratic employee agreement. Yearly bonus approximately $5000. The meat manager, usually a butcher, gets more.

                                                                                            1. re: jayt90

                                                                                              Well, that's Costco. Every business is different. What bugs me is the huge number of people Toronto restaurants employ at lower than minimum wage. Servers, dishwashers, delivery people. Many are not citizens and don't have work permits, so they're not going to complain that their boss only pays them $6/hour and pockets all their tips.

                                                                                              I just feel I have no idea of RF profitability. It certainly isn't an easy market for higher priced foods. Food shops close with frequency in Toronto, and I don't blame someone for trying to make their books balance.

                                                                                              And as for comparing a butcher salary to a store manager. Is the store manager responsible for acting as a butcher? Does he/she come with specialized training in butchering meat, or is training provided? I think all of these are valid questions.

                                                                                              And, if nobody wants the job, nobody has to take it.

                                                                                              1. re: jayt90

                                                                                                Yes, but there are no Costcos even remotely close to Leslieville. Add a car + insurance + gas and you would need added comp. In Leslieville the candidate could WALK to work....

                                                                                              2. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                This disparity is a good way to get a union.

                                                                                              3. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                $20-$25 an hour for what Rowe Farms was asking for, a chef who has worked in some of the better restaurants in the city but wanted to take a step back and work some day time hours. Skilled butchers start at around $18. Basically your staff should be able to afford the product.

                                                                                                1. re: chef_vegabond

                                                                                                  <Basically your staff should be able to afford the product.>

                                                                                                  If this were the case, how would Holt Renfrew stay in business ? :)

                                                                                                  1. re: petek

                                                                                                    Holt's staff do quite well with commissions actually and their staff discount is significant.

                                                                                                    1. re: chef_vegabond

                                                                                                      And they expect results. Not the most understanding work environment, either. Bottom line, every business is different. We can't compare apples to oranges without more information.

                                                                                                    2. re: petek

                                                                                                      I think that notion is crazy. There are people earning minimum wage selling $200 sunglasses. Even with a staff discount, those sunglasses are inaccessible. I don't for a minute believe you can walk around this city and consistently find staff in higher end stores/restaurants able to shop/eat where they work.

                                                                                                      1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                        <I think that notion is crazy. There are people earning minimum wage selling $200 sunglasses>

                                                                                                        Good luck trying to find a pair of $200 sunglasses at Holts.

                                                                                                        1. re: petek

                                                                                                          I wasn't talking about Holt's. There are plenty of businesses in Toronto where employees can't afford to shop/eat. I wonder where Cumbrae's cleaners buy their meat... or how many times the dishwashers at Canoe have taken their family to eat at the restaurant, or how often the front desk staff at The Templar Hotel rent a room there. There are plenty of private school teachers who are in no position to enrol their children in their employer school.

                                                                                                          I was talking about the Oakley store. I knew someone who worked there for minimum wage or slightly above - and a small discount on store product. And there are plenty of $200 plus sunglasses there.

                                                                                                          1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                            For the record, the dishwasher at Canoe likely makes more that the guard cook on the line...

                                                                                                            What people don't realize is that in all areas of the food business, people who make the least often prepare food for people who make the most.

                                                                                                            1. re: JennaBean

                                                                                                              The (day) dishwasher at canoe has also worked there for many many years.

                                                                                                2. re: chef_vegabond

                                                                                                  (Re: chef_vegabond)

                                                                                                  Makes me feel so much better about getting most of my meats these days through a co-op manager, who sources the products from local farms. I pay a $5 one-time membership for the privilege of ordering online and having the goods delivered to a specific pickup location. AFAIK he adds in only a modest markup, and the resulting prices (and quality) are on par or better than other comparable sources.

                                                                                                  1. re: vil

                                                                                                    Great, that is meat that is changing hands over far fewer times then going into a Rowe Farms, that's profits going directly into the pockets of the farmers and not greedy CEO's who short change their staff!

                                                                                                    1. re: vil

                                                                                                      Can you elaborate on your source? I don't really eat much meat, but I do cook it for others, and would love to find a source for organic/humane-raised

                                                                                                      1. re: equalibra

                                                                                                        Not sure how "organic" my sources are, but the chicken and cows are all grass/hay/forage fed, AFAIK. There are occasionally pork products (about once a season) but that goes fast - the side pork that I salt cure myself is such a heavenly alternative to too-salty-and-too-sweet breakfast bacon. Also eggs from pastured chicken, as other miscellaneous products such as garlic and honey. Lake fish in summer too.

                                                                                                        The man who runs this business has such passion, on growing and improving it. He even talks about possibly raising some Chinese black silken chicken, because people like me are interested, and the quota on them is more lenient.

                                                                                                        He offers a select few pickup locations in the GTA, an option to order once a week (with the day based on your location), and you order online before a cut-off time a couple of days ahead of the pickup.

                                                                                                        I'm not affiliated but if you are interested, I would feel more comfortable giving you the contact via PM.

                                                                                                        1. re: vil

                                                                                                          Vil, you may be getting incomplete information from your source, and you are doing no favors to this public forum by not being more open about it.

                                                                                                          Chickens on free range are generally fed as much grain as they want, in addition to foraging. Ask about that. If the chickens are tender and well flavored, they are the same fast growing breed , Cornish - X, used everywhere. If your chickens live on foraging for more than 2 months they will be tough. I know, this occurred with my cochins.

                                                                                                          Cattle raised on grass are often finished on grain for 2 - 3 months, otherwise there is no profit in them, and the farmers want to avoid complaints about tough meat from city folk.

                                                                                                          If you can get more information on the animal husbandry, or a website, that would be useful to us.

                                                                                                          1. re: jayt90

                                                                                                            >>Vil, you may be getting incomplete information from >>your source
                                                                                                            It could very well be, although I also know I cannot retain as much information as I used to, and so prefer to err on the side of caution (instead of misrepresenting with wrong information) :-)

                                                                                                            I don't think I am not being open about it. I actually checked the website and notice that all info is only available on logging in... So there is nothing public to see. I know, not the best way to run a business, especially if he is trying to expand it, lol.

                                                                                                            I agree that free range chicken is typically supplemented with grain. Good questions you raised that I would want to bring up to learn for myself - thanks.

                                                                                                            >>If the chickens are tender and well flavored, >>they are the same fast growing breed ,
                                                                                                            >>Cornish - X, used everywhere.
                                                                                                            Do you mean this as a good thing or not?

                                                                                                            About the cattle, there is Galloway (known for their taste) as well as other breeds. And they could possibly be fully pastured, because I do find the steaks a bit too lean for my taste :-)

                                                                                                            It's time to find out more on this for myself anyway, and of course I'll be happy to share if there is interest here.

                                                                                                            Also, is it appropriate to post the co-op manager's contact email here?

                                                                                                            1. re: vil

                                                                                                              Cornish - X is a supergrowth breed used universally, even by organic farmers. They are medium sized in 8 weeks, and roaster sized in 10 -12 weeks. They hang out at the feed trough, and do not forage like the all purpose or egg layers. If your chicken meat is large, generous, and tender, it is likely Cornish- X.

                                                                                                              I grew 10 Cochins and 2 Easter Eggers last year, from chick to 10 month slaughter. Very tough meat and skin, requiring long cooking. I prefer the supergrowth birds, and I can get organic ones at Costco.

                                                                                                              Please let us know about your purchases, and whether GTA residents can participate. A farmer friend of mine at www.beefconnections.ca raises Herefords and Shorthorns on pasture, and finishes on grains (no corn) for a month.

                                                                                                              I don't know the protocol for posting emails here, but the website above seems to get by.

                                                                                                              1. re: jayt90

                                                                                                                JayT: You definitely know your chickens more than I do. So, what did you learn from your chicken raising experience? Were yours more tasty despite the toughness? I am asking because I am always looking for chicken that is more tasty (naturally), without too much sacrifice in tenderness.

                                                                                                                I asked the co-op manager and he said his chickens are Bonnie's Reds, which seem to take a tad longer to raise than CX's.. but they are also on the large side, compared to the ones I had experience with that I consider more tasty (wish I could remember what breeds they are). He also said feeding them grub would make it even better (presumably referring to taste), but there is not enough demand for the cost that would incur.

                                                                                                                Also, he confirmed that, as a co-op that sells products such as ungraded eggs, he is not allowed to put up information publicly. Anyone interested in more info could PM me for his contact.

                                                                                                                BTW, Beef Connections is the other co-op I partake in. These two complement each other quite well for my needs, with BC great on pork products (that the other co-op is lacking), while the other allows flexibility by accommodating weekly orders at a smaller scale. I truly appreciate being provided with such wonderful choices by them, and I hope that their businesses continue to thrive, while keeping their values intact.

                                                                                                    2. re: chef_vegabond

                                                                                                      Did anyone take the job? Comp is always negotiable.

                                                                                                    3. Met John Rowe couple weeks ago at the Farmer's Market across from St. Lawrence - Saturday Morning. Nice Man. We chatted about sustainability and local, natural meats from 'happy' animals who are grass fed. The deal as he explained it is that organic feed is just not financially viable within their business model however the feed is grain/corn-free. All animals are grass fed and free of antibiotics and hormones. They graze like they did back in the day and are well socialized, healthy and sleep well.

                                                                                                      I'm a grass-fed meat convert. It really is better. If you have questions about Rowe Farms, get your behind over to the market on a Saturday morning and ask for John.

                                                                                                      27 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: justinisthebest

                                                                                                        Corn is toxic to cows, we've been feeding cows corn to promote marbling (higher saturated fats) which is why red meat has such a bad rap. Funny how organic feed is not financially viable within their business model when they charge organic prices and pay their staff nothing. I would go over to the Saturday morning market and give John a piece of my mind but these simply are out of his hands. He's a paid spokesperson at this point and some ex executive from Loblaws now runs the show.

                                                                                                        1. re: ChefVegabond

                                                                                                          So corn can't be organic? What if you feed the cows organic corn? Does that instantly make it non-toxic? What if you feed the cows non-organic grass? Is that toxic?

                                                                                                          No one cares if Rowe is a Loblaws affiliate or not, but at least don't make up random nonsense.

                                                                                                          1. re: yakionigiri

                                                                                                            Corn is toxic to cows, regardless. If you read through this thread you will see that many people here care about the fact that Rowe Farms is Loblaws affiliated. The only person making up random nonsense is non organic grass being toxic or not.

                                                                                                            1. re: ChefVegabond

                                                                                                              Vagabond, corn is not toxic to cattle. Why would farmers feed it if true?
                                                                                                              Rowe Farms is not Loblaw affiliated. It is financed by a venture capital firm.

                                                                                                              1. re: jayt90

                                                                                                                Farmers feed it to cattle to promote marbling.

                                                                                                                1. re: ChefVegabond

                                                                                                                  Is the marbling toxic to humans? What if it's organic marbling? I'm concerned!

                                                                                                                  1. re: yakionigiri

                                                                                                                    I crave for marbled beef (for steaks and for the hot pot) from time to time, but in my experience, the grass-fed beef I get is usually too lean and nowhere as marbled as I would like. That is true even for the ones finished with corn. I get around that by having my fatty, marbled beef in moderation.

                                                                                                                    While I am not sure corn-fed beef is toxic to humans, it is more healthy to have grass-fed. On the other hand, the corn, organic or not, is not that good for cows, especially if used as the main feed and not just for finishing.

                                                                                                                    1. re: yakionigiri

                                                                                                                      It is actually and it's the reason why beef is so high in saturated fat. Go to Argentina and see how much beef they consume there and how trim and fit everyone is there.

                                                                                                                      1. re: ChefVegabond


                                                                                                                        Been to Argentina. Seen fat people.
                                                                                                                        Lived in France for many years. Seen skinny people.

                                                                                                                        Can't 'splain dat.

                                                                                                                        1. re: yakionigiri

                                                                                                                          True that but who does a better steak?

                                                                                                                          1. re: ChefVegabond

                                                                                                                            It was a trap. French steaks aren't well-marbled, and are quite lean in general. The question was re: saturated fats.

                                                                                                                            In response to that question, I'll say the best beef I've ever had was in Japan, where saturated fat (and marbling) was at its peak. They also aren't afraid to feed their cattle things other than grass.

                                                                                                                            But please, we're all waiting for you to show us the following:

                                                                                                                            1) Corn is toxic.
                                                                                                                            2) Non-organic feed is toxic.
                                                                                                                            3) Marbling is toxic.

                                                                                                                            1. re: yakionigiri

                                                                                                                              I never once said that non organic feed was toxic.

                                                                                                                                1. re: ChefVegabond

                                                                                                                                  None of these are peer-reviewed scientific journals, though we've all ready Pollan's work.

                                                                                                                                  Please provide peer-reviewed citations for your claims.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: yakionigiri

                                                                                                                                    Is Scientific America a scientific journal? Was the blog by a farmer who feeds his cattle corn down below a scientific journal?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: ChefVegabond

                                                                                                                                      Is it a peer-reviewed scientific journal?

                                                                                                                                2. re: yakionigiri

                                                                                                                                  When you're finished reading that, I have plenty more for you after. At the end of the day, it's Rowe Farms' practice, so therefore it is wrong.

                                                                                                                2. re: ChefVegabond

                                                                                                                  Loblaws may be the largest impediment to having a single, national organic standard with the labeling and understanding that would follow. Shame on them.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Googs

                                                                                                                    Loblaws lobbies to dumb down the few organic standards that we have.

                                                                                                                        1. re: kwass


                                                                                                                          Basically, there's five companies in the world that make a great deal of the foods we see on the supermarket's shelf, Loblaws is well connected with them and they have our government in their back pocket too. Did you know that the new Loblaws that was built in the old Maple Leaf Gardens received a grant from the Canada Economic Action Plan. I guess the Weston family must be very hard up.

                                                                                                                    1. re: ChefVegabond

                                                                                                                      Not sure where you get your info from, but from initial Googling, you are incorrect. Here is one link:


                                                                                                                      1. re: Sadistick

                                                                                                                        Great research, now please find us something from the main stream media, that will surely back up your case even more.

                                                                                                                        1. re: ChefVegabond

                                                                                                                          Please provide peer-reviewed citations for your claims.

                                                                                                                      2. re: ChefVegabond

                                                                                                                        All good points CV. John retired and as such they no longer have the St. Lawrence farmers market spot. A local fisherman has moved into that spot.

                                                                                                                    2. http://www.marlerblog.com/lawyer-oped...

                                                                                                                      An interesting article with a bibliography full of peer reviewed sources. Granted, it is 6 years old but still worth a read.

                                                                                                                      11 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: radiopolitic

                                                                                                                        Unfortunately this isn't really relevant to the discussion, if you read it. While the conclusion is kind of funny, it's about transmission of foodborne pathogens to humans, and has little to do with the effect of cow diet on, well, cows.

                                                                                                                        Thanks for posting in any case.

                                                                                                                        1. re: yakionigiri

                                                                                                                          I may be wrong but I assumed ChefVegabond was referring to what Pollan stated - that cutting corn from the diet of cows would dramatically reduce e.coli in cows which could then transfer to humans.

                                                                                                                          1. re: radiopolitic

                                                                                                                            I've read the books, I eat humanely-raised meat, and don't purchase meat at the grocery store, let alone Loblaws. I'm just saying that corn isn't necessarily toxic to cows, just as saturated fat isn't necessarily toxic to humans.

                                                                                                                            Or, you know, as below, that e.coli is not in fact toxic and occurs naturally in our bodies (and the bodies of cows).

                                                                                                                          2. re: yakionigiri

                                                                                                                            From the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food:


                                                                                                                            Too much cereal grain, like corn and barley, can indeed have adverse effects on cows' health.

                                                                                                                            1. re: 5secondrule

                                                                                                                              So are you telling me that if it leads to adverse effects on cows' health, that can have adverse effects to human's health too?

                                                                                                                              1. re: 5secondrule

                                                                                                                                No one is debating the fact that feedlots are bad, nor anything related to dairy cows.

                                                                                                                                1. re: yakionigiri

                                                                                                                                  Nor are we debating that non organic food is toxic (other than to mother earth but that is another topic all together)

                                                                                                                              2. re: yakionigiri

                                                                                                                                E Coli is toxic after all. So now that we've come to the conclusion (that I'm right). I'm going to ask you to find anything that I've said that indicated that non organic food is toxic (to anything but the environment.)

                                                                                                                                1. re: ChefVegabond

                                                                                                                                  Wait, so you're telling me that my digestive system is toxic and literally killing me? Our digestive tracts are filled with e.coli bacteria, which help to synthesize vitamins and digest food.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: yakionigiri

                                                                                                                                    Ohh, yakionigiri, many different types of e.coli.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: ChefVegabond

                                                                                                                                      This tangent has gotten pretty far away from discussion of food in Toronto so we're going to ask everyone to refocus on Toronto-specific food discussion, and head over to the General Topics board if you want to have a more general discussion of cow's digestive systems. Thanks!