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On Sunday, October 19, 2014, my wife and I along with our friend Jennifer took part in The Healthy Butcher’s Road Trip. This was the third time The Healthy Butcher had organised this tour. Our tour included transportation via a luxury coach along with visits to three farms, and we enjoyed coffee, muffins, snacks, wine, beer and a fantastic lunch.

Our day began very early on Sunday morning at our meeting place, the Galleria Shopping Centre at Dupont and Dufferin. (Click on any photo to see a larger version.)Oct_19_HealthyButcherRoadTrip_3_2014-10-19_07-15-55_1PV_1846

We got underway shortly after 8 a.m. and were all served fresh coffee along with muffins and croissants. Our hosts from The Healthy Butcher included Mario Fiorucci, Dave Meli and Jonathan Abrahams. Mario and Dave provided us with lots of information regarding the farms we were about to visit.Oct_19_HealthyButcherRoadTrip_5_2014-10-19_08-50-10_1PV_1848

Our first stop was Bambrook Beef Farm, owned by Ken and Cathy Heintz.

the drop pin shows the farm location northwest of St. Agatha

the drop pin shows the farm location northwest of St. Agatha

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Cathy and Ken Heintz

Cathy and Ken Heintz

Dave Meli and Mario Fiorucci, The Healthy Butcher

Dave Meli and Mario Fiorucci, The Healthy Butcher

Bambrook farm is unique for several reasons. First, they are 100% Organic. Their calves and cows are fed organic feed, which is grown on the farm by Ken and Cathy. There is no use of hormones or antibiotics and the herd is raised outdoors. The livestock are free to leave their barn whenever they want to graze. Bambrook Farm is a member of the Field Gate Organics family.Oct_19_HealthyButcherRoadTrip_34_2014-10-19_09-38-59_1PV_1877Oct_19_HealthyButcherRoadTrip_37_2014-10-19_09-40-11_1PV_1880Oct_19_HealthyButcherRoadTrip_41_2014-10-19_09-40-24_1PV_1884

Ken Heintz

Ken Heintz

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Cathy Heintz

Cathy Heintz

Saying goodbye to one of the other residents at Bambrook

Saying goodbye to one of the other residents at Bambrook

Our next stop was Perth Pork Products owned by Fred and Ingrid de Martines.

the drop pins indicate the location of the farm northwest of Stratford

the drop pins indicate the location of the farm northwest of Stratford

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Ingrid and Fred de Martines

Ingrid and Fred de Martines

Fred de Martines and Mario Fiorucci

Fred de Martines and Mario Fiorucci

Fred and Ingrid told us that last winter was very hard on their livestock. Many of the pigs had not been able to put on enough weight before our brutal winter struck. As a result he lost many, many pigs. Fred and Ingrid raise the traditional white or Duroc breed along with heritage breeds like Berkshire, Tamworth and Wild Boar.Oct_19_HealthyButcherRoadTrip_118_2014-10-19_11-19-54_1PV_1961 Oct_19_HealthyButcherRoadTrip_120_2014-10-19_11-22-05_1PV_1963 Oct_19_HealthyButcherRoadTrip_130_2014-10-19_11-23-46_1PV_1973 Oct_19_HealthyButcherRoadTrip_138_2014-10-19_11-26-51_1PV_1981

black walnuts that are fed to the Wild Boars

black walnuts that are fed to the Wild Boar

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the Wild Boar cracking the black walnut shells with their back molars

Here is a brief video of the Wild Boar in action:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-3QzHoFuJg

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we were all advised to bring boots since the farms would be muddy – they were correct!

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the Berkshire and Tamworth pigs can be kept together, the Wild Boar cannot be kept together with the other breeds

the Berkshire and Tamworth pigs can be kept together, but the Wild Boar must be kept separately due to their aggressive nature

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the classic markings of the Berkshire breed of pig include six points of white: hooves, snout and tail

our friend Jennifer didn't think too much about the "fresh" air!

our friend Jennifer didn’t think too much about the “fresh” air!

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After our tour of the farm, it was time for lunch. The Healthy Butcher team put out a fantastic spread for us including Perth Pork Products’ Berkshire pork sausages and we also had some amazing beef brisket, salads, condiments, beer and wine. It was a fantastic lunch!

Jonathan grilling up some Bershire pork sausages for lunch

Jonathan grilling up some Berkshire pork sausages for lunch

Our final stop for this trip was Everspring Farms, which produces duck and goose products. Everspring is owned and operated by Dale and Marianne Donaldson.

located northwest of London near Ilderton, Ontario

located northwest of London near Ilderton, Ontario

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Everspring owner, Dale Donaldson along with Mario Fiorucci

Everspring owner Dale Donaldson along with Mario Fiorucci

Everspring is unique in that it has its own in-house processing plant for its ducks and geese. The entire process, from killing the birds to storage refrigeration, takes only 15 minutes. The birds are humanely stunned by electric shock and then bled out. They are immersed in a hot water bath which helps loosen their feathers. (The feathers are removed and sold for down.) Their insides are removed and they receive a cold water bath and then are refrigerated.Oct_19_HealthyButcherRoadTrip_347_2014-10-19_15-08-51_1PV_2192 Oct_19_HealthyButcherRoadTrip_352_2014-10-19_15-12-33_1PV_2197

birds received a wax bath if there are remaining feathers

after the hot water bath, the birds receive a wax bath to remove any remaining feathers

We saw the one-week-old and 3-week-old Muscovy duck chicks. The ducks are processed once they reach 12 weeks of age.

one-week-old Muscovy ducks

one-week-old Muscovy ducks

three-week-old Muscovy ducks

three-week-old Muscovy ducks

The geese were honking up a storm! Check out this brief video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEUz4OBQo50

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We were able to purchase products from the on-site store at Everspring Farms. After we sampled some smoked Muscovy duck, we just had to buy some!

Following some refreshments we all boarded the bus for the return to Toronto. We reached the Galleria Shopping Centre at 6:30 p.m., right on schedule.

Many thanks to all the fine people at The Healthy Butcher and to all of the farm owners, who were the most gracious of hosts. It was a very long day, but such a treat for city folk like ourselves who are interested in knowing where our food comes from and what our animals are being fed. Great job, Mario and Dave!

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