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Nov 2, 2009 05:06 AM

Where to find pasture-raised pork (bacon) in Toronto?

OK, I love bacon. Really, really love bacon. If someone told me that I had to become vegetarian or else, bacon is the one meat I couldn't give up. I usually buy Bruno's side bacon and am very happy with it. But my brother in the States has been raving to me about the bacon from pasture-raised pigs and tells me the quality difference is really noticeable. He even offered to ship me some so I could discover this wonder for myself (the whole "shipping meat across the border" problem never occurred to him) . So...where in Toronto might I find a supply of pasture-raised bacon? A google search turned up Upper Canada Heritage Meat, but it doesn't look like they sell to any retailers in the GTA. Any leads would be appreciated!

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  1. Rowe Farms on Queen East, perhaps?

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

    8 Replies
    1. re: Bex714

      I don't believe that Rowe Farms pigs are pasture raised. Pasture raised means the pigs are totally unconfined and can roam at will. I'm pretty sure Rowe Farms still keeps their pigs in barns, with access to an outdoor space. I could be wrong, though, so feel free to enlighten me!

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

      1. re: TorontoJo

        We drive by a farm near Peterborough that supplies Rowe Farms with pastured Tamworth pigs, almost daily. In fact, we bought two piglets in the spring to raise for ourselves. All I have to say, is that those pigs on that farm are the happiest pigs I have seen in a long time. They are outside and rotated through pastures year round, with their feed supplemented with hay and farm grown grain. Their shelters are portable and moved from pasture to pasture.

        1. re: earthygoat

          What's the name of the farm? Do they supply any other meat shop in the Toronto area or have their own? Nice to know Rowe Farms is being supplied with meat from happy animals, as I have been a little suspicious of them ever since I discovered that some of their Rowe Farm labelled eggs are from caged birds. Thanks.

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

          1. re: Full tummy

            I haven't noticed a sign or name for the farm, but it is run by Roger Harley, the featured farmer on the Rowe Farms website. We just stopped in one day and met him in person. I think he only supplies Rowe Farms because they are a cooperative, but maybe he sells directly from the farm also. His farm is located just north of Keene on Heritage Line.

        2. re: TorontoJo

          You are wrong TorontoJo.....Rowe Farms has the highest level of animal care in the industry...I have been to the slaughterhouse and their farms.....they are perhaps the only honest meat company in particular the GTA and surrounding area and it is unfortunate that some of the more "recognized" meat producers in the area are actually scamming the Rowe Farms and spread the word. They are a small run company with very few staff and are still trying to get their "ducks in a row' so to speak so they are far from perfect but their farming practices are pure and honest......

          1. re: sweets

            Rowe Farms went under control of Investico (includes Organic Meadows) 3 years ago, and contracts hogs from other farms.

            Access to pasture is not very important in Ontario in the winter months, which is at least half of the yearly production.

            What helps in making good bacon and ham is slow brining or hand rubbed salting and spicing.

            The large operations will inject brine and the water content increases. Fortunately there are lots of old fashioned abatoirs and smokers in rural Ontario; let's hope Rowe uses them.

            1. re: sweets

              sweets, I hope this is true, but perhaps you can answer me this: Why does Rowe Farms sell eggs labelled as being from "regular caged product" at grocery stores? In the "organic/health food section" of Loblaws? How are eggs from "regular caged product" hens an option given Rowe Farms' purported dedication to animal welfare?

        3. I don't know how the pigs they use to make the bacon sold at Milbree-Viking are raised, but you should try it out. It's the best bacon I've found and the price is very reasonable.

          1 Reply
          1. re: foodyDudey

            Ah, right, that's been on my radar to try, as I'm in that area regularly -- thanks for the reminder.

          2. Although I don't purchase pork myself, I've heard good things about HOPE Eco-Farms in southwestern Ontario, run by Mennonite farmers. I've seen their products at an independent supermarket in Toronto.

            Here's a quote from an article in The Tillsonburg News:

            "A fourth option would be HOPE Eco-Farms pastured heritage Berkshire pork, either as a roast or cured product such as ham. Either choice means sourcing a group of small, family farms in the Aylmer area, who share common ‘traditional’ agrarian practices, where says Franz Seeberger, a producer within the group, “a pig can be a pig.”

            His hogs run outdoors with access to shelter, are raised without antibiotics or hormones and fed a natural (non-GMO) diet including grass mixtures, forages, herbs, turnips, kale and mixed grains and flaxmeal.

            “It’s a totally different production system,” says Seeberger.

            Raising pigs this way takes longer, but also produces Omega 3 fatty acids.

            “Which has proven beneficial,” Seeberger added.

            Sales for HOPE are co-ordinated by Ira Stoll, (519-765-1031)."

            Another option is The Healthy Butcher.

            1. Here's your source: His name is Gerald and he raises his pigs on pasture. His bacon is great.

              He's at Trinity Bellwoods on Tuesdays but the season is over. During fall and winter, he comes to town a couple of times per month. Join his mailing list and he'll let you know when he's coming. He usually sets up at either the Pantry on College or the White Squirrel on Queen.

              3 Replies
                1. re: acd123

                  Excellent, thank you! I've just signed up for his mailing list.

                  1. re: TorontoJo

                    I have signed too. I like the "Certified Naturally Grown" label rather than Certified Organic, with all its problems fees, and paperwork.

                    Unfortunately there are only 3 farms in Ontario, certified this way. But there are many others using humane, natural farming methods, and unwilling to become organic, but finding it difficult to reach a willing market.

                2. I get my pork from Perth Pork Products.
                  Outstanding stuff, and farmed ethically and sustainably.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Machiavelli

                    How do you get pork from Perth Pork Products, which is located near St. Mary's? Does he ship it to you r do you live close by?

                    1. re: acd123

                      we buy a whole or half hog in the winter to cure so we make a tripe to the farm. however i know fred comes to TO regularly so drop him a line and i'm sure something can be worked out.

                      1. re: Machiavelli

                        I called them based on your post (thanks by the way). They told me that they come to Toronto almost on a weekly basis. Didn't get too far on the specifics because I'm currently working through my first half hog.