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Consumers looking for healthy options turn to Canadian beef for quality, taste and keeping it local.

When Stock-in-Trade Butcher & Kitchen opened in Toronto’s gradually gentrifying Greenwood and Danforth neighbourhood, it became another indicator of a rapidly shifting consumer attitude toward beef. By day, the shop offered “locally and sustainably raised meat from nose to tail, sold raw, cured, brined or cooked.” By night, it hosted BYOB supper clubs and cooking classes. This new wave of lifestyle butchery is playing out across the country, where consumers are shopping for, preparing, and eating beef in new ways that reflect a new awareness of quality, sustainability, health and taste.

Even the conventional steakhouse is feeling the heat.

Gone are the days of when big-name chains could command sky-high prices for outsized slabs of wet-aged beef finished on corn south of the border. Today, cities across Canada boast innovative independent steakhouses—see Sims Corner Steakhouse and Oyster Bar

in Charlottetown and Whistler’s SIDECUT Modern Steak + Bar—where farm-to-table is a quantifiable metric as well as a calling card. They all source close to home, developing tight farm-to-chef relationships and enjoying the benefits of having a trusted supplier from their own community. In fact, Canadian beef farmers are typically located within 100 kilometres of cities.

At restaurants, portion sizing is mercifully trending smaller. A dish with a few ounces of pristine meat, thoughtfully prepared and consciously sided, is now de rigueur. At Toronto’s upscale Bymark, a star menu attraction is a 6-ounce PEI grass-fed tenderloin, reflecting a growing demand for leaner cuts from pasture-raised cattle. Home cooks are choosing to shop at bespoke butchers who won’t cock a wary brow when asked for cuts like bavette or flat iron, and where dry-aged sides of beef are displayed like precious jewels. (For the best beef eye candy, try Toronto’s famed Cumbrae’s or Montreal’s Boucherie Grinder.)

And there’s this: In addition to being an excellent source of protein—essential for building body tissue, antibodies, and strong muscles—beef is significantly lower in calories by weight than plant-based protein like almonds. Nutritionally, beef also bests chicken breast, with 200% more iron, 600% more vitamin B12, and 700% more zinc. Paired with a seasonal array of vegetables and whole grains, high-quality Canadian beef provides everything the home cook needs to create healthy, balanced meals that fall in line nicely with Canada’s Food Guide.

For some inspired Canadian beef recipes, go to canadas100best.com/recipes

Photo courtesy: Boucherie Grinder

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