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Live to Eat Newsletter by The Healthy Butcher

Ten years!  2015 marks our decade milestone, and this week we're celebrating!  Next week I'll return to our regular scheduled content - and boy am I excited to report back on some spectacular local 100% grassfed beef. But in today's email, I thought it would be fitting to reflect on a bit of history and how Tara and I started The Healthy Butcher. It is a story we have rarely told in full, I hope you enjoy.

We sincerely hope you can join us this weekend for a BBQ on Queen on Saturday (where we'll be grilling to support The Stop), or join us for cake at either store on Sunday.  More details below. 


BBQ on Queen


From 12-4pm at our 565 Queen West store, we're grilling 100% Grassfed Wagyu Burgers on Big Green Eggs.  Burgers are only $5 and every cent collected will be donated to THE STOP Community Food Centre . Come support a great cause, and come enjoy an extraordinary burger!



The Healthy Butcher's Sales in celebration of 10 yearsA DECADE OF OUR BEST SELLING PRODUCTS ON SALE THIS WEEK 

We've sold a lot of amazing products over the years, but this timeline really does our decade justice.  Most of these products are never on sale, so get them while you can!


The Healthy Butcher's Anniversary CakeJOIN US FOR CAKE!
This Sunday September 27 at 2pm, at either Toronto location, we'll be cutting and serving anniversary cake.  No charge.  Join us!



We wanted more.  

I vaguely remember what I had for breakfast this morning, but I remember like it was yesterday the sunny afternoon in 2003 when Sol Borenstein handed Tara and I the keys to 565 Queen St. West. Sol, in his 70s at the time, was the third generation in his family to own that building since it was erected in the 1890s. We didn’t know it at the time, but how we struck the deal with Sol would set the stage of how we would run The Healthy Butcher for the next decade and beyond. I’ll get back to Sol in a minute.

Mario and Tara getting keys from Sol for 565 Queen West

We are often asked why we started The Healthy Butcher. Our story is simple, and it all started because we wanted more. As you probably know, Tara and I were working on Bay Street, she as an i-banker, and me as a lawyer, and both of us had stopped eating meat. Yes, we used to be vegetarians. It’s not that we had any moral issue with eating meat, but we were disgusted at the options available to us. There wasn’t one exact trigger, but an amalgamation of many... the book Fast Food Nation, PETA videos, various articles that revealed the inner workings of the big meat industry... all had a part. But, no matter how hard we tried as vegetarians, we didn’t feel 100% healthy. I’m not going to get into the merits of an omnivorous vs. vegetarian diet, and we’re the first shop to tell you that you should eat less meat, but eat better meat.

We started by going to shops across the GTA. We would ask pointed questions about the meat: Where was it from? What did it eat? How was it killed? We either received a shrug of the shoulders, different answers from one week to the next, or vague answers that were perfectly crafted to have no meaning at all. So, our next step was to go to farms directly. Now, back in 2002 the Organic industry was still in its infancy. We managed to find a couple of local Organic farms and started buying directly; that meant we were buying “quarter cows” and “sides of pigs” and let me tell you, that wasn’t conducive to a condo, one-fridge world. The common gripe we kept hearing amongst our farmers was that they didn’t have a market to sell into... that raising the animals organically cost a lot, and maybe they could sell some of the prime steaks (tenderloin, striploins, rib eyes, etc.) to some stores, but what were they supposed to do with the rest of the animal?

And so, the purpose behind The Healthy Butcher was born. Next was to solidify a location. We lived on Queen West and wanted to start our business there. There was something about 565 Queen West that drew me to it... it felt like it was meant to be. I walked into Sol’s shop, called Don’s Furniture, and started chatting with him one day. At some point in the conversation, I popped the question – “Are you interesting in selling your building?,” to which he answered “What? Are you an agent? F-off!”. Two days later I entered again, “You again?” he said, and I tried to reason with him, trying to explain that I wasn’t an agent looking to make a commission, that I was just trying to start a business. I could see in his eyes that struck a chord with him. The answer to selling his building was, unequivocally, still no. For about two months I continued to walk into his shop... we talked. A lot. And in that time, I learned about Sol’s history, his family’s history, and the building’s history. Finally, the day came when Sol said “Fine, you have a deal.” We shook hands, and the deal was done. No agents, no written “Offer to Purchase”, just a shake of hands bundled in trust.

Ten years later we do business the same way. We take great pride in knowing our meat farmers directly. We know who they are, we know their families, and we know their history. We still make deals with handshakes. More than that, we question everything; from how the animals are born, to where they live, to what they eat, to how they are transported, and to where and how they are killed. We leave no stone unturned. And it’s in how we do things that differentiates us from the competition. It’s those relationships that keep us accountable.

Thanks to you, we have become Toronto’s most trusted source for healthy meat. If you want a great tasting steak, you can go to many shops. If you want a great tasting steak that you can feel good about eating, both because it was ethically raised and it’s healthy for you, you come to us. In the process, we have opened three locations, we launched an online eGrocer – – that sells real food throughout the GTA, we have helped over 200 local farms flourish, donated over 20,000 pounds of meat to various charities and fundraisers, and educated tens of thousands of customers.

The Healthy Butcher was born because we wanted more.... more from our lives. We believed we could make a difference. We believed that buying healthy meat should be easy, and that eating healthy should not result in compromising eating enjoyment. Those beliefs unite everything we do to our singular commitment to provide you with delicious, organic, ethically raised meat that you can feel good about buying and eating. We quickly realized that we joined a passionate community who also demanded more and pushed us to accomplish what no other butcher shop has accomplished. It is because of you, our beloved customers, that we are delivering on our promise. We are not only changing what Ontarians eat, but how we think of food – and most importantly, how our children think of food. Together we are restoring a personal and healthy connection to our food.

On behalf of all our farmers and staff, thank you for making our first decade spectacular.

The future is bright.

Tara Longo refinishing the original tin ceilings at 565 Queen West

Sebastian Cortez butchering The Healthy Butcher's first beef

Mario Fiorucci, Tara Longo, and Dave Meli - owners of The Healthy Butcher

The Healthy Butcher
565 Queen St. West, in downtown Toronto, 298 Eglinton Ave. West in midtown Toronto
25 Bruce St., in Kitchener, Ontario

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