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Best way to buy meat directly from farmers?

Hi All,

I've researched a little on how to buy meat directly from farmers and almost all of the options include buying large(r) quantities, which are too much for me.

So what are the options out there when you're a single person who wants to buy organic local meat in small(er) quantities and don't want to pay the inflated retail price?

Are there farms around Toronto who would let you buy smaller quantities of select cut?

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  1. It tends not to work that way. They usually don't run retail counters and don't offer their meats in less than halves or quarters cut to order. Think you might be stuck with boutique meat.

    1. go to a farmer's market -- both the evergreen brickworks and the wychwood one have farmers with coolers from whom you can buy various cuts. i've seen beef, chicken and pork, sausage as well. eggs, too, frequently.

      1 Reply
      1. re: autopi

        Yep. Farmers market.

        If they don't have what you want, ask them to bring it to you next time. Really, your best bet is to ask what they have and plan around that. Same with the other goodies at the farmers market.

        DT

      2. Small town abattoirs often have a retail counter, and reasonable prices.
        You have to do a telephone search and drive out of town, but it may work for you.
        Here is a list
        http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/f...

        2 Replies
        1. re: jayt90

          This sounds like the most reasonable option (with more research) ... I have a feeling Toronto farmer's markets still have inflated prices, even though they're may not be as high as the boutique butcher shops. Thanks jayt90

          1. re: Radoslav

            There are also 25 lb mixed boxes of beef or pork delivered periodically from www.beefconnections.ca

        2. West Side Beef offers a 20lb box of various cuts and sausages., usually costs $ 150.

          1 Reply
          1. re: meatnveg

            West Side Beef's boxes work out to $7.50 a pound for 20 lbs. of ground beef, steaks, sausages, roasts, etc.

            http://www.westsidebeef.com/index.html

              1. re: Mila

                I agree with Dave 5440.
                $19.50/lb for Tenderloin: Filet Mignon is a bit too much despite being grain fed.

                St. Lawrence Market butchers (and I know these are not grain fed, but we are going to assume they inflate the price so they can pay the hefty rent there) sell their tenderloin steak for $12.99 - $14.99 / lb.

                We're looking for a cheap way to get to the source here ;-). Most of the farms around toronto will sell their meat at about $7.50/lb when you average it out. This is close to triple.

                1. re: Radoslav

                  I think your confusing grain fed and grass fed. Most meat in Ontario is grain fed at somepoint as we have winter, All grass fed beef is much more expensive (and not as tasty as grain finished IMHO) than grain fed.

                  1. re: Radoslav

                    'despite' being grain fed? Grain fed is the norm and is the cheapest way to feed cattle.

                    Grass fed beef is the more expensive (and natural) way but is at least double the price or more.

                    1. re: Radoslav

                      I sure am glad I live way way outside of the GTA at these prices

                  2. This website doesn't give prices but it does give contact info. And you can search for excactly what you want!!
                    http://www.greenbeltfresh.ca/
                    enjoy!

                    1. Again, you're looking at a large minimum order. They do supply some retail shops but it won't be cheap:

                      http://www.brookersmeat.com/beefgrassfed

                      1. Try the Ontario Farm Fresh website. Just type in your postal code, the distance you're willing to travel, and the product(s) you're looking for, and voila! I've bought lamb and beef from some of the farmers on this list and have been extremely happy with the quality. Prices will vary from farm to farm. http://ontariofarmfresh.com/locator/

                        1. if you're willing to drive, some of the mennonite farm stalls outside of fenelon falls have meat. depending on the time of year zehr's on the glenarm road, and the bakery on mark's road both have coolers with some cuts of meat, sausages, and whole chickens.

                          1. My favourite GTA source for meat is Agram Meats http://www.agrammeats.com/ .
                            The farm, abattoir, processing, and store are all on the same property near Georgetown, operated by the same people. Good prices, all natural and local, custom orders available, and I feel good about buying my meat there.

                            Try looking up an Ontario CSA farm:
                            http://csafarms.ca/index.html

                            Go for a drive to a farm like the one my friends run:
                            http://www.savourmuskoka.ca/member/se...

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: blizzardgirl33

                              Stick with your local butcher and buy what you want in the quantity you want. Getting cuts your don't want at a cheap price is not a good deal.

                              1. re: Tom34

                                Getting cuts you don't want at a cheap price is a great idea! Expands your horizons, makes you a better cook. It's my favorite thing about getting a Beef Connections order.

                                1. re: graydyn

                                  I see your point but for so many people they come across the freezer burned odd ball stuff a year later when they defrost the freezer. My mom & grandmother could make a great meal out of any cut of meat because back in the day the premium cuts were out of reach as a weekly meal ingredient and they were brought up / taught how to cook less desirable cuts. One of my favorites was med rare "Flap" steak. Chewy but delicious. Most people my age don't know what it is let alone where it comes from or how to cook it. Those people include my wife!!!!

                              2. Sad situation for a small consumer really. I buy local rural from farmers I got to know, but mostly in larger quantities (quarters / halves) that is not only costly, it also runs the risk of extended freezer storage.

                                Best bet IMHO : find and get to know a good, local butcher. Ask lots of questions, request what you want but also follow their suggestions, and buy and eat fresh. You'll find they have preferred suppliers that you will get to know and appreciate too.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                  Yeah, that was my point. Obviously you know what to do with all of the cuts in a quarter or half but as time goes on fewer and fewer people do which is why I recommend a local butcher for most folks. If a person likes heavy marbled strip steaks a good butcher will find them a whole strip, cut it to desired thickness and professionally wrap it for them. Kind of hard to beat that kind of quality/service.

                                  I got sick and tired of injected/pumped tasteless supermarket pork and now have my butcher hand select a whole Leidy's Pennsylvania Dutch bone in pork loin and band saw it into nice thick chops for me. Maybe .50 cents a lb more but worth every penny. All I have to do is call him afterward and tell him how good it was so that he knows I appreciate the effort. That's old school/pride butchering.

                                  1. re: Tom34

                                    Those type of butchers are rare, but thankfully many are still out there, and new ones seem to be coming up in the ranks.

                                    To know and be know by a good butcher, and to be able to get great product by walking in and simply asking "what's good" is fantastic.

                                    Getting value is another thing. Healthy butcher is first class but their prices are above and beyond. Care to share your source ?

                                    1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                      Are you near Philadelphia because thats where he is at.

                                      1. re: Tom34

                                        Sorry Tom34,

                                        The Healthy Butcher I spoke of has two locations in Toronto. "Executive Butcher" is Dave Meli, a young passionate guy who works very close with his preferred suppliers, knows his stuff, is opinionated, and willing to share his views (especially if you ask and are open to hearing them).

                                2. Ontario farmers can't sell cuts to consumers directly from their fields and sheds. A beast must be slaughtered and dressed at an authorised, inspected premises. The farmer may then pick up the product and sell to you and me.

                                  If you know when a farmer is taking stock to slaughter you can ask for a portion of the kill. This works, of course, only if you know the producer.

                                  Otherwise, if you wish to buy directly, you must be willing to buy frozen on trust.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: DockPotato

                                    Never bought from a farmer & probably won't at this point but I was wondering how / when the price is determined......before the animal is butchered or after when the quality of the beef can be determined?

                                    1. re: Tom34

                                      I'm not finding any particular pricing pattern. Individual farmers' prices vary around here. Generally though I'm paying more than supermarket prices unless I buy a quarter or split with someone. Right now the only meats I buy directly are things I can't get over the counter like Ontario lamb or Longhorn Beef.

                                      1. re: DockPotato

                                        The meat cutters behind the counter at Loblaw, Sobeys and Costco will often cut to my specific order, even when the price is a featured special. This is a real advantage, to get AAA quality, well-cut and well-priced; it probably exists only with the largest purveyors, benefiting from economy of scale. I haven't done as well at Metro, where the meat cutters are hidden, or Highland Farms, where the butchers are often in the back. Surprisingly, Cumbrae's can be really good when I ask for a butcher and get them to prepare a true bargain cut.

                                        1. re: jayt90

                                          Exactly. I agree, jayt90. Our local Sobeys has an excellent counter. There are regs on what they're allowed to do though. For instance the guys aren't allowed to put pork through their grinders so that means we're buying prefrozen. However, the local abattoirs have good retail counters and they too cut to spec with the added benefit that anything in terms of lamb, veal, beef or pork are usually available.

                                          1. re: jayt90

                                            Can you give some examples of what you get special at costco or loblaws?

                                            1. re: szw

                                              Untrimmed brisket point; Delmonico rib eye cut; Porterhouse cut; one large trout in a tray instead of three; female lobsters from a tank.

                                    2. Like a couple of others, I would recommend West Side Beef. It is all grass-fed high quality beef from Dingo Farms. FYI the owners are also involved in new, highly-acclaimed restaurant Richmond Station. $150 for 20 pounds is a tremendous value in Toronto terms. It's not as much meat as you think. They vacuum-packed pieces individually, so it doesn't take up too much space in your freezer. Also, the packs often include bonuses like beef jus, stock or bbq sauce. I love the fact that the pack is always a little different and what they give you is what you would use during the particular season.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: bogie

                                        Thanks for the tip / +1 bogie,

                                        A couple of other things if you buy larger quantities direct from a farmer or butcher.

                                        I freeze quite a bit do to remoteness, but eat as much fresh as you can, especially the best cuts.
                                        Ask that for the tenderest cuts (like filet) to be plain wrapped, because I find the industrial vacuums squeeze the meat.
                                        Try and get some of the "Butchers Cuts" especially the Tri-Tip and Hanger Steak. They'll tell you that you won't want it, but don't believe them...
                                        Lastly, be sure to ask for everything properly labeled so you know what you have and how to cook each piece. A tender cut will be wasted in a stew, and a tough cut (excellent for stew and braise) will be inedible grilled.

                                      2. Not sure whether anyone's mentioned the following farm on this thread... I've just recently started buying grass-fed meat and other produce (poultry, beef, pork, eggs) directly from a farm located in the Mississauga/Caledon area. They're called Teggart Farms and they're pretty much a "hole in the wall" operation (read: nothing fancy). It's a family run farm that's been running for a while and, of course, is government inspected. An added bonus is that they're reasonably priced.

                                        Ps: if you do check them out, do yourself a favor and try their bacon... yum!!