Tag Archives: certified organic

Chicken Sex

By Mario Fiorucci, Co-Founder of The Healthy Butcher

This article was originally published in Tonic Magazine November 2011



I have to start by admitting that I am not an expert in the field of pediatrics (although my wife would tell you that I think I’m an expert on everything).  But, the topic of early maturity in girls instantly tickled my spider sense because I have a three-year old daughter.  A few months ago, Pediatrics – the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics – published a report out of Copenhagen University which showed that between 1991 and 2006, the average age of breast development in girls (called thelarche, which is the first sign of impending puberty) – decreased from 10.88 years to 9.86 years.  Along that theme, there are no shortages of similarly concluding studies;  another I came across found that the average age of first menstruation (called menarche) decreased from 15 in the 19th century to 13.5 in the 1960s, to 12!

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Breaking Down the Chicken

We’ll start by going back to basics – understanding cuts of Chicken. These are the cuts of Chicken we offer.

The Healthy Butcher’s Chicken Cut Chart



References and Learning:

Learn more about cuts of Beef:
“Breaking Down the Beef”

Learn more about cuts of Pork:
“Breaking Down the Pork”

Learn more about cuts of Lamb:
“Breaking Down the Lamb”

Learn more about cuts of Duck:
“Breaking Down the Duck”

Learn more about cuts of Elk:
“Breaking Down the Elk”

Learn more about various cooking methods and appropriate methods for each cut:

RealFoodToronto.com Cooking Library

Breaking Down the Lamb

By Mario Fiorucci, Co-Founder of The Healthy Butcher
This article was originally published in Tonic Magazine April 2011

April is lamb month as far as I’m concerned.

We sell more lamb during the week of Easter than we do pretty much the rest of the year.  That said, did you know that lamb is the only universally accepted red meat?  Hindus are forbidden to eat beef, Muslims & Jews eschew pork, but no culture or religion outlaws lamb.  Lamb has been a part of our carnivorous lives since 9000 B.C.! During these early days, much of the world chose Shepherding as a career path, and the meat they knew best was lamb.

Lamb is a sheep less than 1 year old. The term “Spring Lamb” refers to a lamb between 3 and 5 months old.  Over 1 year, a lamb is referred to as a yearling.  Over 2 years of age, lamb is called mutton; meat from mutton is darker, tougher, and has a stronger flavour than lamb.

The Healthy Butcher’s Lamb Cut Chart

HB-Cut_Chart_Poster-Lamb_Named_CutLines-Transparent-FINALDespite the lamb frenzy that occurs at Easter, the best time to purchase local lamb is between mid-summer and fall, when lambs have grazed on open pasture for several months.  In the autumn you can buy genuine Ontario “Spring Lamb”, that is, a lamb born in the early spring, fed on mother’s milk and organic pasture all summer, and slaughtered in the fall, which produces the sweetest and most succulent of meat.  The taste of good lamb is earthy and rich with a faint sweetness. Lamb is fairly fatty, and, unlike pork, the fat is not entirely edible – it is more like tallow. This contributes to the high price of lamb, because by the time the lamb is trimmed of its fat, bone and other non-edible parts, the resulting meat is only about 40% of its weight.

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Breaking Down the Pork

The pig is truly a wonderful animal and as omnivores, we should revel in its magic.

From an organic – or more precise, sustainable agriculture – standpoint, very few animals can come close to the pig in providing nearly 100% utilization – “everything but the oink” as they say.  From a characteristic standpoint, the pig is extremely intelligent, exhibits advanced social behaviour, and has an anatomy that so closely resembles that of humans that pig organs are the favoured animal for xenotransplants, that is, transplants from animal to human.  And from a taste standpoint, not many meats can compete with the richness in flavour offered by an organically raised cut of pork.  Unfortunately, the news is not all cheery – commercial pork production has reached such a horrific state that it rivals industrial veal production in the award for humans’ most disgraceful exploitation.

Most consumers don’t know what real pork tastes like, and instead are happy to buy cheap pork and expensive marinades.  “It’s a double whammy for the supermarkets: their pork may be cheap but is so boring that you have to load your trolley with expensive, value-added products (such as sauces and fancy marinades) to compensate,” says Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in his stellar book The River Cottage Meat Book.  But lets not get ahead of ourselves… we will limit this newsletter to the discussion of pigs as The Healthy Butcher knows them to exist and avoid a lengthy discussion on commercial meat production – perhaps the topic of another newsletter.

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Breaking Down the Beef

We’ll start  by going back to basics – understanding cuts of meat.

This is a topic that we’ve taken as our primary responsibility to educate consumers for two reasons: (1) To promote sustainable agriculture… consumers need to understand that all meat is good meat, not just Striploins and Tenderloins, except that different cuts require different methods of cooking; and (2) To understand that eating organic does not equate to eating expensive… in fact, we are firm believers that you can buy organic meat and spend the same or less than you would buying conventional meat just by being selective in the cuts you choose — without any loss of quality or flavour (the economics of eating organic being the subject of a future newsletter).

This article features the many facets of Breaking Down the Beef. Together, beef and pork make up 54kg of annual per capita consumption in Canada.  We reissue the beef article because beef is the best starting point to understand cuts due to its larger size.  Once you understand beef, pork and for that matter, any four-legged animal, is a cinch.

Without further ado – let’s break down a side of beef.

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