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Let us consider the cow

Our first-ever meat issue explores the butchers and businesses behind Toronto's carnal love affair

A rack of aged steaks at Côte de Boeuf. Credit: Jamo Best
Behind the scenes at our photo shoot at Sanagan’s Meat Locker in Toronto’s Kensington Market. Xtra

Let us consider the cow.

Regal, elegant and inspiring as it strides purposefully over our hallowed prairie lands, the true epitome of grace and perspicacity. Plus, it goes just awesome with fries and a milkshake.

All right, so even the most ardent of animal activists surely admit that the cow is just about the dumbest creature ever to trod sod (despite stellar efforts by the brothers Ford in this category). I’m not saying they deserve to die but also can’t muster much outrage that poor Bessie’s lifespan is generally determined by the Canadian Beef Grading System. Then there’s that whole fries and milkshake thing.

And we love beef — at least most of us do. The average Canadian will consume more than 30 kilograms of beef every year, never mind the 60-odd kilograms of other meats and poultry that we manage to choke back with joyful abandon. Whether it be organic, processed, slow-cooked or deep-fried, it’s clear that we Canucks are not about to embrace vegetarianism any time soon.

Living in a foodie city like Toronto, the options for meat lovers are nearly endless. Our thriving multicultural communities offer a rich variety of ways to prepare and serve all sorts of animals, while restaurants have become bolder in both responding to customers’ curiosity and challenging their culinary boundaries. We even experience the changes in our grocery baskets, as recent years have seen meat produce taken to a whole new level by an adventurous new breed of butcher. We’ve become smarter consumers, increasing the demand for what was previously the sole domain of specialty shops; it’s quite common now to find organic, sustainable and free-range products at even the largest grocery chains.

Perhaps it’s the ubiquitous presence of TV cooking shows, magazines and websites, always looking for something new (and sometimes controversial) to fill airtime and page space. Either way, with things like bone marrow, charcuterie and even horse meat hitting Hogtown menus, there’s never been a better time to put down that Big Mac and take an adventure in some of Toronto’s most exciting and captivating temples to all things feathered and hooved.

Watch a behind-the-scenes video of our photo shoot for the meat issue and check out Daily Xtra for more meaty goodness!