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Toronto butchers vs butchers

Hi,

I've been trying to buy meat from our local butchers for the past few months, but there's quite a huge difference in price between some of them. I've been to The Healthy Butcher on Eglinton St, Cumbrae's, and The Butcher on Yonge. They're almost all in the same price range and all have organic products that are free-range, local, and grain-fed.

I also stumbled upon two butchers in Kensington Market only recently (I know, shocking! Forgive me) and I want to know how do these stores (like European Quality Meat or St. Andrews) compare to these other butchers. Are they grain-fed as well, for example?

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The Healthy Butcher
565 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V, CA

Cumbrae's
481 Church St, Toronto, ON M4Y, CA

European Quality Meats
176 Baldwin St, Toronto, ON M5T, CA

St. Andrews Fish and Chips
1589 Ellesmere Rd, Toronto, ON M1P2Y3, CA

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  1. European Quality Meat Market is mostly interested in volume and price competitiveness, you'll get a good deal, not happy cows ( chickens or pigs), To the West on the same street (Baldwin) and to the South (on Kensington), are butchers closer to the ones you mention in your post, and also in a completely different price bracket to European Quality Meat .

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    European Quality Meats
    176 Baldwin St, Toronto, ON M5T, CA

    5 Replies
    1. re: AzulH

      I think Azul is describing Sanagan's, as the one closer to Healthy Butcher et al.

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      The Healthy Butcher
      565 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V, CA

      1. re: chocabot

        Sanagan's has become my go-to butcher. I've never been disappointed with quality or price.

      2. re: AzulH

        Azul H, how can you say European sells meat from unhappy cows, chickens and pigs? Are you speculating or inspecting?

        1. re: jayt90

          If I may, I believe AzulH is using the term 'happy' ______ (insert tasty creature) as shorthand for animals that are ethically raised in small local operations. As opposed to their unfortunate industrial feedlot raised brethren. I don't believe he is claiming to have psychoanalyzed any of the animals prior to slaughter. The meats at European Quality Meat are at price point which would not likely be profitable if they were selling 'happy' meat. Thus it is reasonable to assume that their meAT is not 'happy'.

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          European Quality Meats
          176 Baldwin St, Toronto, ON M5T, CA

          1. re: haggisdragon

            Hog and chicken operations in Canada are feedlots, by and large, but beef is not. There is no Canadian equivalent of the huge beef finishing lots in Missouri. Our beef, whether Ontario or Alberta, is grass or hay fed, and finished on grains such as barley, not corn.
            The lower rated Ontario beef animals (Grade A as opposed to AAA) will end up at Cargill in Guelph, and maybe later at European Meats, but they have have been happily raised on pasture.

            FWIW Canadian pork and chicken is often considered superior to the same from other countries. Just buy the cheap imported chicken, beef, or pork at No Frills and compare.

      3. I am a big fan of my local butcher. Jerry's on the Danforth. I can't be bothered to travel across town to get a cut of meat so I am lucky that Jerry has a great selection of meat, sausages and cured meats made on site and great advice if you have questions.

        A butcher is the case where if you have a good local support them.

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        Jerry's Supermarket
        1398 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON , CA

        1. Healthy Butcher is the best one, hands down. They are the only ones to
          offer true Certified Organic dry aged beef, offer tours of the farms they use and clearly separate their product so you know exactly what you're buying. I came across them in the summer on a day when they had a weird meat fashion show. Their farmers got together and did a funny runway thing carrying their products. (were any of you there?) I was hooked. I thought the relationship between this place and its farmers must be pretty good to have a hulking farmer walk the walk holding onto pork ribs. Hilarious... they "posed" for the cameras and everything.... I guess you could say they were "hamming" it up... ; ) If price is the issue, they have natural as an option and it is clearly identified.(which I really appreciate) Natural isn't organic, the main difference is the feed and the living conditions.(theirs is hormone and antibiotic free) Not everybody's natural is great (I've discovered) so it is good to know the farm its coming from. Sometimes I'll splurge and get some NY strip steaks or whatever. But if I'm a little tight on cash, to save money, I usually buy some of the non pricey organic cuts and ask them how to cook it. I've had great advice from the counter help at the Eglinton store where I shop. One woman there suggested that I "eat my way through the case" so every week I'd buy a different steak and try it. They gave me advice as to how to cook it. I never would have discovered some of my favourites otherwise because some of the names of the steaks I just didn't recognize. I've shopped at Cumbrae's, also in Kensington, and when I first moved to Toronto, at St. Lawrence Market. In the end, you have to go with your gut as to who you trust. Healthy Butcher has won my trust.

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          The Healthy Butcher
          565 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V, CA

          Cumbrae's
          481 Church St, Toronto, ON M4Y, CA

          St. Lawrence Market
          92 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E, CA

          1 Reply
          1. re: poshnoshtoronto

            It was probably easier than you think to get the farmers to cooperate. Like many other professions, they are proud of their work and end product and probably more so for the organic famers. By and large, you don't get the poor treatment of animals up here that the activists would have you believe.

          2. Go see my friend Vinny Gasparo at Gasparo's on Bloor (near Ossington). This is my favorite meat shop in the city.

            1 Reply
            1. re: rjp123

              Even better than Gasparo for many, (not all), things is the hidden secret across the street from Gasparo - North side of Bloor just West of Ossington - Macelleria Venezia -

            2. Madness. How is Gasparro's not dominating this list. Best steaks in town. Had their rib eye's yesterday. Insanely good. Half the price of some of these others. Good local shop at Bloor and Ossington.

              1. In Kensington, Sanagan's is the place to watch for. Great meat, much of it is grain fed or grain finished and the owner buys from farmers he knows and can tell you everything you want to know about the meat.

                1 Reply
                1. re: smeagher

                  I've been a regular visitor to Toronto and now living here for a couple of months. While Cumbraes has great meat, getting what you want isn't easy. They need to invest some time into training their counter staff about meat that isn't sitting in the window - the relayed conversations with the butchers out the back are a bit of a pain and often unsuccessful - and get some pork that comes with skin rather than having to order it and hope it arrives. There are moments I think I'm in Monty Python's cheese shop. When living on Queen West recently, I stumbled over the Healthy Butcher - excellent, and when you want something the butcher comes out, you chat, discuss what you need and what you're planning, and then you get it. For general bits and pieces, the St Lawrence Market usually delivers, and the place is a national treasure.

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                  The Healthy Butcher
                  565 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V, CA