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Grass-fed beef in Toronto?

Hi there

Having just finished "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan, I feel the need to change some of my more questionable eating habits... and I was wondering if anyone could suggest a place that I could buy pasteured, or grass-fed in other words, beef here in Toronto.

Organic isn't what I'm after, although it would make my search much easier... I would really love to get hold of non-grain-fed beef.

Oh, and I thoroughly recommend the book!

Thanks for your help.

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  1. Fresh from the Farm has grass-fed beef. It's pricey but quite tasty.

    1. Healthy Butcher can provide you with the info you want on all their meat suppliers and their practices.

      1. Elizabeth,

        Not sure how common strictly grass fed (no grain) beef is here in Ontario, but I second the recommendation for The Healthy Butcher. The staff will be able to give you all the details on their suppliers farming practices. You could also try Cumbrae's.

        After reading The Omnivore's Dilemma recently, I too have begun to question my meat eating habits. It is a pretty sobering account of the food industry.

        1. i just finished the omnivore's dilemma as well. what a fantastic read!

          the best place i know of for quality, naturally-raised meats (that happen to be organic as well) is beretta farms. their website is www.berettaorganics.com
          they deliver to your door (although it's a $150 minimum order). they also sell every thursday at the Dufferin Grove Farmer's Market across from the Dufferin Mall. the farmer's market is from 3pm to 7pm and is always very busy so go early for best selection. there is also a guy there who sells farm fresh eggs that are terribly hard to find in toronto. i tried to get some at about 5:30 though, and he was already sold-out.

          for a back-up, i always shop at cumbrae's. they don't sell grass-fed beef but all their meats are naturally raised on small, southern ontario farms. they also sell eggs but i have yet to purchase any there. their website is www.cumbraes.com

          2 Replies
          1. re: badlittlebaby

            actually, cumbrae's beef is "from animals grazed on fresh grass and alfalfa hay and finished on grains for flavour and marbling" according to their website. so not exclusively grass but pretty close...

            1. re: badlittlebaby

              Same concept ( grass fed, good animal husbandry) at lower cost from www.beefconnections.ca and they deliver, no minimum, but most boxes of beef or pork are $100-$250. But a good way to start is ground beef and summer sausage.

          2. I have purchased grass-fed beef from The Healthy Butcher.

            1 Reply
            1. re: EarlyDrive

              Thanks everyone for your help - I really appreciate it. I will visit all the associated websites and will undoubtedly enjoy some healthier beef in the near future.

            2. Thanks to all for the posts, I also recently finished "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and was also curious as to where grass-fed beef might be purchased in Toronto.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Pincus

                Check out this site. http://www.twincreeksfarm.ca/

                The farmer from Twin Creeks sells grass fed beef at the Trinity Bellwoods farmers market on Tuesdays from spring to fall. I'm sure the market will be starting up again in May. During the winter, about once a month, he delivers to a drop off point very close to the park.

                I bought some grass fed been from him a few weeks ago. Last week, I used some of the ground beef to make meatballs (ground chuck with bread soaked in milk, parm reg, serrano, sauteed garlic and shallots, parsely, salt and pepper, seared then simmered in a homemade tomato sauce). Okay, the way I made them defeats the purpose, I guess, but the meatballs were excellent, very tasty and meaty. Even if I did add some fat, it is still heathier than supermarket beef. Also importantly, I like the idea of buying naturally raised, grass fed beef from a small Ontario farmer on a family farm. I too have read the Omnivore's Dilemma, as well as his new one, In Defence of Food, and I can't get over them.

                I also bought a piece of flank (stirfry, maybe?), a couple of blade steaks (carbonade??), and about a pound of ground lamb (probably kofta). I don't make much meat at home, so that should last me a couple of months.

                I believe that there are many places to buy grass fed been in southern Ontario, and many of the farmer will deliver or ship to the GTA. It just takes a bunch of research on google.

              2. I'd call Lady & Son in Leslieville (Queen/Jones) and see if she carries it if you live near.

                1 Reply
                1. re: singe

                  Not sure of the name, but there is grass-fed beef at the butcher stand in the North building of the St. Lawrence Market on Saturdays. Their stand is right in the North-West corner in the North Market.

                2. For me, it was In Defense of Food which started me looking first at grass-fed beef. The results of my search have been varied.

                  I have been purchasing at farmers markets from two suppliers:

                  Twin Creeks Farm - beef and pork - www.twincreeksfarm.ca/
                  Stoddart Family Farm - chicken and duck - www.stoddart.ca/

                  Both also provide vegetables fresh from the farm.

                  The quality of everything I have purchased has been excellent.

                  1. If you live or can get up to Newmarket or Aurora the farmers markets on Saturday morning have a vendor who sells naturally raised beef and pork. I've had the beef in the past and it's been excellent. The price is a lot easier to swallow as well than the big name city butchers.


                    1. Farmers at www.beefconnections.ca deliver (locally) an excellent product, inspected, wrapped and frozen. Beef cattle eat grass until Fall, and 5 grains plus timothy and alfalfa in cold months. (No corn.) Prices are good.

                      1. Seriously, I wonder when the Canadian government will finally allow importing grass-fed beef from Argentina??? My soul will not stop dreaming of the day that I actually get to eat delicious Argentinian steaks in my own backyard, without having to board an airplane.

                        1. Yes I just finished watching the doc Food Inc and am now reading Omnivores Dilemma. I too am looking to change my food choices and am starting with the beef and poultry which led me hear looking for somewhere to buy grain fed beef and free range poultry. I am in the Newmarket area if anyone has suggestions

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: cowgirlroutley

                            www.svetecfarms.com is just north of Oshawa and has farm gate sales.

                            1. re: jayt90

                              3 cheers for Svetec Farms. They are just down the road from us in Durham, and grow some fantastic foods.

                              On another note, I'm also reading T.O.D. and am looking for some non-industrial milk and dairy products. I don't even know where to start.

                              Has anyone already made this journey, and have any info or advice to share??

                              1. re: munkdogg

                                the two big names for dairy in Ontario are co-ops like Organic Meadow and an independent like Harmony Organic. I prefer the taste of the latter for milk.

                                1. re: aser

                                  Harmony Organic milk is the best I have had in Canada

                          2. Also loved the book and I've since changed my ways. I highly recommend Cumbrae's, as I find their staff are very knowledgeable, their meats are consistently great (properly aged, too), and they're always willing to do custom or fresh cuts right in the back of the store. And they also have Wagyu steak, which is a luxury that's well worth the price.

                            For pure grass-fed and grass-finished, check out the farmer's markets. I've noticed several farmers selling purely grass-fed meats at the Brickworks Market, Dufferin Grove, etc. I'd suggest going there and talking to them.

                            1636 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G, CA

                            Dufferin Cafe
                            2917 Dufferin St, Toronto, ON M6B3S7, CA

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: SMOG

                              Hi Folks I recently tried Cumbrae's steak after a while . My Buddy and I wanted to go all out so we went for one of the biggest hunk of meat they had to offer and got us the Cowboy Steaks (2-1/2 lbs + each) that are dry aged 30+ Days. My Buddy likes his steak medium so I cooked it that way and I went for a more medium rare finish. They looked awsome. Now for the taste I think it was good but not great! Maybe I have become partial to Costco but after having this steak from Cumbrae I think Costco is hard beat in terms of value and the taste is pretty close to what you spend elsewhere IMHO. Not to say Cumbrae isn't good after a recommendation from a fellow chowhounder I tried their dry short ribs for Kalbi and they turned out great. I guess I can try the meat from McEwans but my normal steaks are going to be limited to CostCo.

                              481 Church St, Toronto, ON M4Y, CA

                              1. re: elvisahmed

                                According to Cumbrae's Stephen Alexander, would like to add the following regarding their steaks:
                                - They come from either Angus or Hereford cattle raised by Haldimand County farmers
                                - They are fed on red clover and alfafa for flavour.
                                - They are also fed on corn and barley for marbling.
                                - They are aged for 'six weeks'.

                                481 Church St, Toronto, ON M4Y, CA

                                1. re: elvisahmed

                                  Does anyone know where Costco's meat comes from, the aging process, etc? I assume it is factory farm meat, but don't know for sure.

                                  1. re: SMOG

                                    I have asked when shopping. The majority is 'AAA' Alberta beef, and western provinces chicken and pork. In peak seasons when they can't get enough they will bring in U.S.D.A. Choice clearly marked, and at other times ship meat to the U.S.
                                    The beef is shipped in cryovac so it gets wet aging up to two weeks.
                                    Chicken pork and seafood are fresh and sold within a few days or pulled.
                                    Leftovers go to the garbage rather than food banks or sale trays, or pig farmers.

                                    So, to answer your question, the beef is western feedlot, which I understand to be pastured until brought in for finishing, on grains other than corn; barley, oats and wheat are commonly used in Canada; corn not well used in the west.

                                    Pork and chicken are factory farmed to Maple Leaf "free from" standards.

                                2. re: SMOG

                                  cumbrae's sells grass-fed beef too. not always in stock but if you call ahead it can be arranged. it comes from larry hanson in haldimand county.

                                3. I just had incredible grass-fed beef (steaks) that I bought at Oliffe (one of the five thieves) this weekend. The beef was from PEI and yes, you can taste the difference! The $33/lb was worth every penny.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: FLWB

                                    Forsythe Farms in Markham (Kennedy and Major Mac) has pasture raised beef.

                                    I can't remember exactly if Reesor's farm market at Ninth Line and Elgin Mills, Markham, has pasture raised or organic.....their website seems to be down atm.

                                    1. re: FLWB

                                      FLWB, I just posted about Oliffe's PEI steaks on a different thread and decided afterwards to do a search to see if anyone else had commented. Came across your note.

                                      I totally agree! We treated ourselves over the holidays and LOVED THEM. The best steak ever. It was of the taste and texture that I've been longing for for years. We've bought at Cumbraes many times and other places and I've always been disappointed but not this time. Just thinking about them, makes me want to have another .

                                    2. i was looking for exactly what you were looking for and had it on christmas.
                                      organic grass fed beef it is even labeled. it was amazing, pink in the middle. i sliced up the strip loin so everyone could have a taste, and they all agreed it was wayyyy better than the big roast that everyone was feasting on that night.
                                      where? mcewan's, donmills & lawrence

                                      happy new year.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: ChewNnoobs

                                        McEwan's does have some good grass fed PEI steaks, and somehow much cheaper than you'd expect (around $15/lb for strips?). Grass-finished is a big difference though (for health/composition purposes), and a couple of good sources include Jens and the Marvellous Edibles crew at Brickworks, and Bio-Visions (from a biodynamic farm) at Village Market in Vaughan.