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Back in the day, I used to buy grass fed beef by the 1/2 cow. One night we had a dinner party with some of the prime rib that was in the freezer. I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough, so I ran over to Loblaws and got more.

The difference between the two was worlds apart! Though the two cuts were cooked together for the same amount of time, grass fed beef cooks a bit quicker and was a medium while the Loblaws variety (a grain fed beef) was rare. But the grass fed beef was light years better.

More flavour, more tender and just all around fantastic. I’m sure the Loblaws one was fine, but when you compared the two it was night and day. I was actually so embarrassed of the Loblaws meat that I tried to re-trace my steps and figure out who had eaten it so I could apologize. (Which was silly because if you didn’t have the two I’m sure you didn’t even notice the vast, vast difference.)

And of course it made a difference – how could what you eat for your entire life not make a difference?

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The finished product of my great pork experiment!

But what else effects your meat? Barbara Schaefer from Upper Canada Heritage Meat invited me to see the difference that breed can make with pork. She raises a breed of large black pig that is technically endangered. With over 300 on her farm, she is attempting to keep the breed alive through consumer demand as they run and play on her farm. Her pork is pasture raised… so they forage, roam free and more than survive, they have an actual life.

Why are they endangered? They might not grow as large, they might take longer to become full grown – all things that play into the bottom line of a factory farm. But traditional farmers know that breed variety can make all the difference in a tasty product!

In North America 1/3 of all livestock breeds are considered rare or in decline… this is up to 1/2 in Europe. Luckily each dollar you spend on groceries is a vote in how you want your food produced.

For my taste test dinner I once again tried to compare apples to apples. Frozen then thawed pork. Cooked with a mushroom white wine sauce in the same pan.

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Normal everyday chops on the left – the kind that had me thinking pork sucked. Amazing Upper Canada Heritage Meat on the right… the colour alone could win this battle of the chops.

Besides being more tender and juicer, the heritage pork had a more wonderful flavour over all. It may sound like common sense that a product raised better just tastes better… but I think you will be pleasantly surprised how MUCH of an improvement it really is.

Meat like this is why I decided to eat less meat over all so that I could have quality when I do enjoy it.

If you would like to try your own chop experiment you can find Upper Canada Heritage Meat at 3 farmers markets across the city! Fridays at Sparks Street, Saturdays at Westboro at Byron and Golden and Sundays at the Ottawa Farmer’s Market at Brewers park.

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Past Foodie Adventures…