Category: The Toronto Star

This cattle feeder cuts emission equivalent of 13,000 vehicles

Grassland soils can sequester a huge amount of the greenhouse gas, CO2. At Shipwell Cattle Feeders in Taber, Alta., the company’s adaptive multi-paddock grazing system removes the equivalent CO2 emissions of about 13,000 vehicles per year. On a cold winter day in Alberta, Algonquin College executive chef Russell Weir’s pot roasted beef recipe would be warm and welcomed comfort food in Taber, as it is in Ottawa.

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Beef producers manage pastures for a better environment

Much of Ontario’s beef comes from Western Canada, with cattle being shipped across the prairies to mature and be processed. Cattle farmers like the Tapleys of Manitoba know that managed pastures sequester carbon in the soil and grasses, which helps reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Wilfrid Laurier University executive chef Cory Armitage uses Canadian beef with his spicy, aromatic version of beef vindaloo.

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Consumers turning to local producers for dependability

Consumers have turned to homegrown beef and other dependable staples since the pandemic, says Maryjo Tait of Celtic Ridge Farms near Dutton, Ont. Western University executive chef Kristian Crossen says his students and faculty also want dependability in the quality and taste of the meals he prepares. His boneless short ribs, marinated and braised, always score winning marks in those categories.

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Ontario corn-fed producers aim for quality, consistency

About half of Ontario-fed beef cattle are part of an Ontario Corn Fed Beef quality assurance program, that specifies animals be fed a diet of 80 per cent corn. Participating farmers say that makes the meat more tender and juicy. University of Windsor executive chef Paolo Vasapolli loves using Ontario beef in his chianti-stained pappardelle with beef ragu recipe.

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High intensity rotational grazing: that’s how the bison did it

Bison that inhabited the Canadian plains were always on the move, grazing as they went and fertilizing their natural pastures with their own manure. Calgary beef farmer Ben Campbell simulates that scenario in a sustainable practice called high intensity rotational grazing. Chefs like Humber College culinary director Jerome D’Souza uses Canadian beef in his wheat and flank steak chili, a tender, nutritious and delicious meal for students on the run.

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Brewer’s mash keeps cattle content, say owners

Brewer’s grain mash, a beer-production byproduct, is safe for cattle to consume, easy to digest, and readily available. The owners of First Line Angus near Hagersville, ON point to its high fibre and protein content that helps reduce their feed costs and diverts the mash from landfill. At the University of Waterloo, executive chef Javier Alarco takes the same approach to making the best use of all good ingredients.

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These family farmers explain PEI’s unique terroir

Culinary experts say that every growing region has its own ‘terroir’ – the area’s physical and environmental characteristics that influence the taste of the crops and livestock that grow there. The Francis family of Prince Edward Island believes that’s why PEI beef is such a “secret gem.” University of PEI executive chef David Jenkins agrees, and uses it to create a stew with eclectic flavours students love.

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Cattle ranchers look towards sustainability for the next generation

Family-oriented cattle ranchers look at their land from the perspective of what they’re leaving for their kids, the next generation. That care-taking mindset drives B.C. beef producers Erin Durrell and Jeremy Kishkan, as they focus on low stress and low-impact cattle rearing. Quality production, along with maintaining his home province, is a key consideration of UBC’s sous chef in residence Johnny Bridge, who takes culinary inspiration from memories of beach campfires on the Sunshine Coast.

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Eco-friendly measures preserve water and land quality

Grazing cattle make good use of land that’s not suitable for cropping, but they need to be well managed – for example, kept out of streams to prevent erosion and preserve water quality. That’s just one of the eco-friendly measures the Seelhof family of Woodjam Ranch, B.C. takes to sustain their land. Their efforts are appreciated by University of Victoria sous chef Chris Hillier. He says the key to bringing out the full flavour of beef from families like the Seelhofs is braising, so the liquid can penetrate with taste and tenderness.

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Cattle aerate and fertilize their own pastures

A new crop of Canadian cattle producers are committed to environmental sustainability through an approach called regenerative agriculture. Their cattle have an important role to play, aerating and fertilizing the soil as they’re moved to different pastures throughout the day. Queen’s University executive chef Colin Johnson puts the tasty Canadian beef to good use in his popular internationally flavoured dishes.

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Canadian beef has excellent reputation abroad

Canadian beef is known abroad for its clean environmental practices, superb genetics and responsible animal welfare. For example, Mexico’s high-end hotels are a huge market for Canadian beef, where it’s considered elite fare. It’s not surprising that Mexican-born chef Roberto Valencia at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology is a big fan, calling it “the world’s best beef.”

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Quality assurance program verifies sustainability practices

Consumers want to know the beef they’re buying has been raised with attention to animal care, environmental sustainability and food safety. That’s why 1,300 producers across Canada are participating in a volunteer quality assurance program that independently verifies their practices. Confidence in the ingredients is a priority for University of Saskatoon executive chef James McFarland, who normally prepares up to 2,100 meals a day.

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Sustainability is part of the big picture on this farm

The Burkhardts of Gwynne, AB, are beef producers who see the big picture for their farm. With Ducks Unlimited, they’ve created habitat for migrating waterfowl, and encouraged native grasses to make comeback on their land. Trent University executive chef Christopher Ennew also takes a long view with his cooking, suggesting the leftover weekend brisket
be kept in the fridge for a few more days to be enjoyed again “like Sunday dinner on Tuesday.”

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Urban Cowboy

Raising awareness and promoting dialogue about current food and agriculture issues.

OWEN ROBERTS

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Owen Roberts is a faculty member in the Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications program at the University of Illinois. As an agricultural journalist, he is the past president of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists and a lifetime achievement award recipient from the Canadian Farm Writers' Federation.

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