Category: The Toronto Star

Gliding through calving season: That’s the answer

Anne and Barry Wasko are Saskatchewan beef ranchers who practice a blend of old approaches and new technology to protect the future of their grasslands and their new-born calves. Chef James McFarland of the University of Saskatchewan shares the Wasko’s’s conservation credo and says that learning more about the food you cook and consume is a matter of sustainability.

Read More

Beefing up pastures sustainably: that’s Brylee Ferme

Quebec cattle producer Brian Maloney continually moves his grazing cattle to give the pastures time to regenerate naturally. It’s a long term strategy to maintain good grazing land. Sustainably produced foods are equally important to executive chefs like the University of Waterloo’s Javier Alarco. Why’s that? When asked what makes his beef koftas taste so good, “it’s all about the ingredients,” he says.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.


Read More

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.

Read More

Urban Cowboy

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


Headshot of Owen Roberts

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. His programs and research papers have been recognized nationally and internationally through awards from the Journal of Applied Communications, the National Agri-Marketing Association, the Association for Communications Excellence, and others.