If there’s anything to be learned from the recent food-borne pathogen problems, from salmonella in tomatoes and peppers earlier this summer to the recent listeriosis contamination of cheese and processed meat, it’s that we need to pay better attention to the journey our food takes from farm to table.

One of the interesting side effects of the outbreak is that people seem to be switching away from packaged meats and either going to their butcher for deli meat. Some are even forgoing deli meats and buying fresh roasts that they cook and slice themselves for their sandwiches. Even without listeriosis as an incentive, it’s a good idea: it’s cheaper, you can spice them any way you like, and you’re not adding nitrites to them.

A number of local butchers are playing up the fact that they’re not large meat-processing plants and pay better attention to their work. Here’s a sign I saw outside Astra Deli on Bloor Street West on Saturday. They’ve got some good stuff, and they make some pretty mean meat-on-a-bun combos:

Sign: "We make our own deli meats -- no Maple Leaf products"
Photo taken by your ‘umble chronicler.

3 replies on “Meat”

Well, in the big Maple Leaf recall thread, you said you could publish recommendations for the good people of Toronto, even if those in other locales were left to Google it on their own. You are a man of your word.

Although it’s pretty old news by now — on the upside, it’s available in paperback — I highly recommend reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. In one segment the author documents a free-range, sustainable farm that produces its own meats and vegetables, and how they have people drive hundreds of miles to buy their stuff on the days they sell it at open market. The various recalls may indeed be accelerating this trend.

(A friend of mine assumed that the book was a vegetarian diatribe when I told him about it; wrongly so, since the final sequence involves the author hunting, dressing and ultimately cooking a wild boar.)

One final note: If you’re in Cambridge, Mass. and want locally-prepared meat, just look for this sign.

@Follower: I like the advice of Michael Pollan, the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma (which is on my “to read” list): “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

I still need to publish a quick article on good meat shops in Toronto; I think it’ll be pretty close to BlogTO’s list of the best butcher shops in Toronto, but it’s worth repeating.

As I’ve metnioned before, it’s also worth it to check out their list of the best fruit & vegetable shops and best cheese shops in Toronto.

Ah yeah, that motto is not from the Omnivore’s Dilemma, it’s from In Defense of Food. I have it, you can borrow it if you want. I really really recommend it.

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