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Live to Eat Newsletter by The Healthy Butcher

Raising the steaks on Local, 100% Grassfed Beef

Two months ago we issued a newsletter called Could we have found the World’s Best Beef?  In that newsletter, we featured the spectacular beef we import from Firstlight farms in New Zealand.  Well, I would venture to say at least 75% of the grass fed beef farmers in Ontario contacted us after that article published, each claiming they have the secret to successfully producing quality, healthy 100% Grassfed beef in Ontario. We’ve had a lot of discussions and been doing a lot of local travelling to say the least! 

OK Good news and bad news.  Bad news is that many (arguably most) of our beloved local farmers just don't get it (not yet anyway)... they haven't wrapped their heads around the concept that great grassfed beef starts with great soil, which produces great grass, which then equates to great beef.  Without healthy soil, it doesn't matter what breed of beef they are raising, the result won't be good. 

The good news is that the future is promising!  In this newsletter, we feature Pure Island Beef in Manitoulin Island where Jim & Birgit Martin are certainly at or near the forefront for consistent quality 100% Grassfed beef. 

Enjoy the video and come sample some of their amazing beef for yourself! 


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Raising the Steaks on local, 100% Grassfed Beef  

Our Video Report

Dave and I visited Manitoulin Island on September 10-12 to inspect the Pure Island operation... We hope you enjoy watching our video report by clicking here.

Video Report from The Healthy Butcher's visit of Pure Island Beef in Manitoulin Island

Our Written Report

If you would rather read than watch our video above, then here's our summary...

Jim & Birgit Martin, the farming power couple behind Pure Island Beef have a deep routed passion and determination for achieving high quality, consistent 100% Grassfed beef year round. Birgit’s background in agronomy, combined with Jim’s keen eye on selective breeding bode very well for the future of Pure Island beef. They have already proven they can produce extremely healthy beef year round. During the winter they feed their beef heylage produced on their own farms under Birgit’s careful eye – that heylage is produced by carefully selecting the types of grasses, then cutting and ensiling the grass at its peak health state. We have our hands on five nutritional tests done on Pure Island beef, and the results for the Omega 3:6 ratios were: 0.56, 0.79, 0.90, 1.27, 1.28, averaging a near perfect 1-to-1 ratio – truly outstanding! The next stage is achieving consistency of marbling and flavour year round.

So far, the flavour, tenderness and consistency of Pure Island’s beef have been excellent. No doubt, the island climate plays a huge factor. Manitoulin Island is the largest freshwater lake island in the world, and experiences a fairly consistent amount of precipitation year round, 130 frost free days per year, moderate temperatures because of Lake Huron’s lake effect, and healthy soil. Manitoulin Islands rough terrain and distance to market have ensured that the soil has not been depleted by decades of cash crops. Further, the underlying rock formations ensure a neutral PH level of soil – the key marker for healthy soil.

Map of Ontario showing Manitoulin Island
Jim has concentrated his herd on the Angus and Shorthorn breeds of beef. Both breeds are adaptable and resistant to harsh weather... and that’s a great thing, because the Pure Island beef remain outside all year round. Jim ensures that the herd have sufficient protection from wind, which is actually not difficult considering that most of the pastures are very ranch-like hilly pastures that grow a lot of trees, compared to the flat, vast paddocks we are used to seeing in South-Western Ontario or other parts of Canada and the US for that matter.

Raising beef on Manitoulin Island is a perfect example of using the land for a well-suited purpose. It will be difficult for any Ontario farm, frankly any Canadian farm, to dethrone Firstlight Farms in New Zealand for 100% Grassfed Beef. The reason is simple; New Zealand has the unfair advantage of year-round green pastures. Certainly the passion and knowledge of Jim & Birgit Martin, combined with the weather and soil conditions of Manitoulin Island, puts their beef in contention for the crown. They aren’t there yet, but we will continue working with them giving them input on flavour, tenderness, marbling and overall consistency as the seasons change. The creation of super nutritious silage thanks to Birgit’s agronomist background, combined with Jim’s keen eye on selective breeding may be the best chance we have on a year round local supply of healthy beef without compromising eating enjoyment.

Come try out some of Pure Island’s amazing beef in our stores.

Photo Album

Photo Album from The Healthy Butcher's visit of Pure Island Beef in Manitoulin Island

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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