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    Best Butchers In Toronto For Locally Sourced Meat

     

    We are pleased to announce that we have won 2nd place in BlogTO's "Best Butchers for Locally Sourced Meat" contest. 

    A big and heartfelt thank you to all of you that voted!

     

     

    This content originally appeared on BlogTO. Click here to see the original post.

     

    “The best butchers for locally sourced meat in Toronto will let you grab a perfect cut of beef, lamb or whole chicken as well as sausage and whole bunch of prepared food. If you're going to eat meat, you might as well buy it from a butcher with a conscience.”

     

    Here are the best butchers for locally sourced meat in Toronto:

    2nd Place:

    BlossomPure is a grocery store offering the latest in modern health needs. Providing organic groceries and products, the aim is to support social responsible consumption. Food items include - grass fed meat, halal food, wild fish and Mennonite products, like homemade jam and pure maple syrup.”

     

    BlossomPure Joy (Toronto Sun, Rita Demontis)

    BlossomPure Joy

    Rita DeMontisBY TORONTO SUN 

    BLOSSOMING SUCCESS: A while back, I had written about this wonderful little shop in the west end that focused on local foods.

    BlossomPure Organic specializes in grass-fed organic Halal meat and dairy products, not to mention a fine line of organic-based fresh produce, fruits, cereals, honey, condiments, spices, herbs and so much more.

    I loved that owner Fahim Alwan was so committed to his message, travelling all over southern Ontario to work with local farmers to bring in only the best — at great prices.

    The focus was on animals that are ethically raised; not confined or injected with growth hormones, fed only organic feed and raised on local Ontario farms by certified organic farmers.

    Alwan believes in living the 100 Mile diet!

    Well, a recent visit revealed the company is not only thriving but growing.

    The shop is still small but has taken over a bigger chunk of space, and there has been an expansion of offerings.

    And the commitment and passion is as strong as ever, as I noticed Alwan speaking with customers about the products being purchased.

    This guy knows where every single product comes from — from the eggs to the meat to preserves.

     

     

    “It’s all about connecting,” says the affable Alwan, who stresses compassion in his messaging. “And we are committed to connecting our customers to the local farmers who grow their food.”

    BlossomPure focuses “primarily on the ethical treatment of the animal, as well as supporting our local farmers. We deal mainly with certified organic farmers who raise their cattle on pasture (for beef, lamb and goat) while they keep other species unharmed.”

    The company started in 2002 as a small distributor and became a supplier of meat and produce to many health-food stores.

    A few years ago it shifted toward retail and home-delivery, as well as supplying restaurants.

    Aside from fresh meat, you’ll find deli meat made with no nitrate, gluten or filler, and hotdogs and sausages made from lean ground meat.

    And it purchases such products as eggs, honey, maple syrup, preserves from “conscientious Amish and Mennonite farmers,” along with other dairy products.

    Alwan personally visits all the farms he does business with.

    And he won’t sell anything he won’t eat.

     

    Originally published in the Toronto Sun

     

    Organic Purveyor Blossoms

    

    While out shopping recently I happened upon this absolutely delightful shop called BlossomPure, specializing in local grass-fed organic Halal meat and dairy products, not to mention a fine line of organic-based fresh produce, fruits, cereals, honey, condiments, spices, herbs and so much more, all neatly tucked into a quiet little strip mall on The East Mall. What an absolute pleasure speaking with the owner, Fahim Alwan, who was so passionate about the foods he offers.

     

    “We have a commitment to connect our fellow customers to the local farmers who grow their food,” said Alwan.

    The company focuses “primarily on the ethical treatment of the animal as well as supporting our local farmers. We deal mainly with certified organic farmers who raise their cattle on pasture (for beef, lamb and goat) while they keep other species unharmed. Our goal is to make organic Halal meat and other products affordable for everyone.”

    The company started in 2002 as a small distributor and became a supplier of meat and produce to many health food stores. Three years ago they shifted towards retail and home-delivery, as well as supplying restaurants.

    “Our main products include, beef, lamb, chicken, turkey (in season) and wild-caught fish. Our meat is known for being local organic grass-fed and Halal — which means humanely slaughtered by one of our staff close to the farm — with the emphasis being on treating the animals with utmost care and humanity.”

     

     

    Aside from fresh meat, the company — with two locations — offers deli meat made with no nitrate, gluten or filler, and hotdogs and sausages made from lean ground meat. Plus they purchase such products as eggs, honey, maple syrup, preserves from “conscientious Amish and Mennonite farmers” along with other dairy products. I purchased a dozen large brown eggs for only $4.50 — just picked up fresh from the farm!

    The store I visited sells well over 700 other items of fresh produce, flours, grains, nuts, dried fruits, pasta and sauce, canned food, breakfast snacks, condiments and more. I found the prices reasonable, especially the meats, including chicken legs and thighs — the taste of the baked chicken was amazing.

    Alwan has been in the business for years and personally visits all the farms he does business with.

    And he won’t sell anything he won’t eat.

    BlossomPure: A Review by HalalFoodie

    Jun 13, 2012

    A few weeks ago, we received a surprise visit from the wonderful HalalFoodie, a prominent figure in the restaurant-reviewing world.  One of our very own organic, grass-fed New York steaks had the honour of being lovingly prepared, photographed, and mused over!

     

    Blossom Pure Organic Halal Meat and Grocery 

    Blossom Pure Organic halal meat and grocery is the only place you can find organic halal meat in Toronto, actually, make that Canada. Owner Fahim Alwan is passionate about his business. He’s even looking into delivery to as far as Ottawa (with certain restrictions) to make it accessible to more people.

    Alwan was recently featured in Toronto Life Magazine for his unique venture. It’s a great read, highly informative and goes into detail about the company and their slaughtering practices –> Allah Mode: Article in Toronto Life Magazine By Sasha Chapman.

    There are two locations; Mississauga and newly opened Etobicoke. I’ve decided to head out to the Etobicoke location which is just around the corner from Sherway Garden’s Mall and conveniently located right off of hwy 427.

    The store is small and tidy. There’s little inventory, which in my opinion is a great way to ensure you’re getting the freshest product. I’m more interested in the meat so I go straight to the back where I find two display cases and a couple of stand up freezers/refrigerators.

     

     

    Unfortunately, I did not get to meet the owner himself (I gave them a surprise visit!) but a store associate was there and walked me through the whole meat slaughter process.

    He also employs a full-time slaughterman to travel to nearby processing plants to perform zabihah. (To minimize the animals’ stress, he puts the burden of travel on his slaughterman.) — Sasha Chapman, Toronto Life

    They completely eliminate the middle-man by slaughtering their own meat. Doing this also gives them full control over various cuts they offer as well and staff mentioned special requests could also be possible. All meat is vacuum sealed to ensure maximum freshness and is freezer safe for up to six months.

    Beside the meat display there’s a small assortment of dairy and produce. Alwan goes out to Amish and Mennonite farms to hand-pick fresh items like yogurt. Delivering these products to his stores himself, means cutting out the need for a distributor and ensuring only the best goes on his store shelves.

    At the front of the store there is a good variety of grocery products. Some I’ve seen at other organic stores, but most of Blossom Pure Organic items like honey, jams and pickles from Amish and Mennonite farms, are unique.

    I’ve toured the store, spoken to staff for some organic 101 and now I’m ready to check out with the following items:

    • New York Steak
    • Rib Eye Steaks
    • Turkey Summer Sausage
    • Spicy Beef Pepperettes
    • Lean Ground Beef

    The price is higher than what I’m used to. I don’t think I’ve ever paid this much for grocery or meat before. BUT, I know anything organic is expensive because it’s produced on a smaller scale, using better ingredients. The cashier explains that although their price for meat is higher than regular factory meat, comparing to other organic places, they are priced significantly less. Many of their customers are actually not Muslim for this reason.

    Personally, I don’t think I could afford to eat organic exclusively. However, my family and I are making small changes by starting out with some of the products we consume the most within the dairy and meat categories. For example, for the past two years we’ve only purchased organic milk for our home and this summer, we will try to switch to Blossom Pure Organic for barbecuing. To help fund these changes we’ve cut out indulgences like pop and processed snacks from our house. Small changes, but in the right direction (in my opinion).

    Later that same evening we BBQ the New York steak and make burgers from the ground beef. After rubbing both sides with some olive oil, I season the steak with salt and ground pepper no more than a few minutes before it goes on the grill. Salting too early will dehydrate your steak by drawing out moisture. After removing the steak from the grill I top it with butter and give it another few minutes to rest before cutting to eat. Check out this video for grilling tips using the fist trick for determining how done you want your steak.

     

    I’ve tried a lot of steaks in restaurants and I’ve made a lot of steaks at home. The New York steak from Blossom Pure Organic is the best I’ve had in recent memory. The texture was melt-in-your-mouth and not tough even though it was grilled to medium. I can absolutely taste the difference. I order less than mediocre steaks when we eat out for as little as $20 to as much as $50-60 and this one just about tops them all. So now I’m going to think twice about ordering steaks again (unless it’s a new place for a review!) — instant savings!

    Now for the ground beef from Blossom Pure Organic. I season it with a lot of salt, a fair amount of ground pepper, and a bit of garlic and ginger paste. We’re planning to make burgers. When shaping the patties with your hand, avoid over pressing the meat. The idea is to keep it loose in the middle so the juices are kept inside. We sprinkle a little more salt on the patties once they’re on the grill as well. I must say I’m not disappointed at all. It’s really good tasting meat. Very different from factory processed meat.

    I feel better about eating meat from Blossom Pure Organic because I know exactly how it’s been handled right from the farm to my kitchen table. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for anything else I eat these days!

     

     

    Originally published on halalfoodie.com

    The “Halal Meat” Scam and Why I’m a Semi-Vegetarian

     | 28/04/2012 |

     

    Yes, you read that right – the term “halal meat” is a scam, which is why I’m a semi-vegetarian. By semi-vegetarian, I mean that I only eat meat on certain occasions, under specific circumstances, and following very strict guidelines. I would say in a given month, I eat meat twice, maybe three times (if that). “But whyyy?” you might ask? Simple. I’m following the commands of Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He) in the Qur’an, and the sunnah of our Prophet Muhammad ?allall?hu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of All?h be upon him).

    What’s the Problem?

    Let me just say, this post has been in my drafts for over a week. Then yesterday, I saw this post from Hijabman, in which he quoted the following, which was my sign to finish and publish this piece already:

    “75 percent of Halal meat in America produced in the year 2000 came from pork fed cows, according to Dr. Stephen Emanuel, from Agway Feed Company.” – SoundVision

    In the Muslim world (and the Arab world, in general), meat has become a staple at the dinner table…and the lunch table…and the breakfast table. From kebabs (meat cubes) and koftas (ground beef kabob), to shawarma (minced meat) sandwiches and sujouk (beef sausage), our community has built an unhealthy obsession around meat. It’s everywhere; weddings, funerals, birthday parties, aqeeqas, Eid feasts…if there is a gathering of Muslims for any reason, you better believe, there will be meat!

    Because Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He) made meat lawful for us in the Qur’an, and because Prophet Muhammad ?allall?hu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of All?h be upon him) ate meat, we’ve convinced ourselves that it’s our God-given right to consume as much meat as we possibly can on any given day. Ahh, the Qur’an and the Sunnah – the pinnacles of all Islamic law and jurisprudence…let’s take a look at what these two sources have to say about the consumption of meat, and compare that to what’s taking place in Muslim homes across the globe.

    Halal in the Qur’an

    The Qur’an contains verse after verse telling us to eat only that which is lawful and good. Here are just a few of those verses:

    O ye people! Eat of what is on earth, lawful and good; and do not follow the footsteps of the Evil One, for he is to you an avowed enemy. (Al-Baqarah:168)

    O you who believe (in the Oneness of Allah)! Eat of the good things that We have provided you, and be grateful to Allah if it is (indeed) He Whom you worship. (Al-Baqarah:172)

    Eat of that which Allah hath provided for you lawful and good; but fear Allah, in Whom ye believe. (Al Maidah:88)

    As we see from these verses, Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He) tells us to eat that which is lawful AND good – not lawful ORgood. In Arabic, these terms are halal and tayyib. But what does that really mean?

    Islamic law states that in order for meat to be considered halal, very specific conditions must be met:

    1. An animal must not be beaten, mutilated, or branded.
    2. An animal must be killed in accordance to very specific guidelines, which ensure the quickest slaughter, and the least amount of pain.
    3. Muslims are strictly forbidden from eating the flesh of carnivorous animals.
    4. The name of Allah must be invoked over each animal before it is killed.

     

     

    What is Tayyib?
    Most Muslims are familiar with the term halal (lawful, permissable), but sadly, our community is much less familiar (if at all) with the term tayyib (pure, wholesome, nutritious, good). How can this be, when the two terms are mentioned together in the Qur’an numerous times? How can we ignore such an important aspect of what Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He) has allowed us to eat?
    The term tayyib is just as important as halal and should be treated as such! To me, tayyib is today’s equivalent of ‘organic’, meaning locally grown food, free from hormones, pesticides, antibiotics, artificial anything, and in the case of livestock, free-range, grass-fed (beef), and well-treated. Yes, well-treated! Lest we forget what Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He) tells us in the Qur’an about the treatment of animals:

    “There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth nor a being that flies on its wings, but they are communities like you. Nothing have We omitted from the Book, and they all shall be gathered to their Rabb (Lord) in the end.” (Al-An’am:38)

    “Halal” Factory Farms are NOT Halal

    Isn’t that beautiful? Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He) likens the animals on this earth to us humans, with communities and an ultimate return to their Lord! If Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He) has elevated these creatures to such a high status, why then, are Muslims not outraged by the inhumane and downright evil treatment to which animals are subjected on today’s factory farms? I won’t go into every detail (you can read more at this article), but here are just a few of those heinous treatments:

    • Factory farms are over-crowded, putting the animals under a great deal of stress, leading to behaviors like cannibalism and fighting. These behaviors are prevented by debeaking chickens, and dehorning and castrating cows, without the use of anesthetics. [Mutilation]
    • Cows are killed using electric shock so that their throats are easier to cut. There have been reports that some animals are still alive by the time they make it down the line to be dismembered. [Slow and Painful Death]
    • Natural herbivores are fed slaughterhouse waste, including fat, blood, meat, and bone meal. Dairy cows are given feed with ground pork bones in it. “Animal cannibalism” is also common, with cows being fed the blood and meat of other cattle as protein supplements. [Carnivorous]

    Even Muslim farms have been known to undermine the law that Allah’s name be invoked over each animal before it is killed. Some of them just recite it once at the beginning of the day, others have it playing on a tape recorder over and over, as they slaughter each animal. Others, more, practice the use of “blessed blades“, wherein they either inscribe Bismillah Allahu Akbar on the blades or someone says the phrase and blows on the blades, thereby “blessing” the blades for the slaughter…nevermind the fact that machine-slaughter is against Islamic law in the first place! They’ve turned into a simple, ritualistic behavior…as if this is all that’s necessary in order for it to be considered halal.

    What is the real Halal?

    Saying Bismillah Allahu Akbar before slaughtering an animal is not simply a ritual, as these farms have reduced it; when we invoke Allah’s name on an animal that will be slaughtered, we are speaking directly to Him, thanking Him for His bounty and asking Him to accept the animal’s sacrifice. We are acknowledging that the animal is His divine creation, that we have done our best to provide it with a healthy, happy life, and that we will sacrifice it in order to feed and nourish our family.

    How many of us remember all of these things before we dig into the lamb kebab or that chicken biryani? My guess is very few. But that’s only because we have been conditioned and desensitized to the sacred meaning of eating meat. With the growth of factory farming in the past few decades, meat has become an expendable resource, like sugar or flour. It’s just always there, it’s not going anywhere, so we don’t really think too much of it.

    This is where we’ve failed – failed the animals, failed ourselves, failed our communities. We are supposed to be ‘ahlus sunnah wal jama’ah’, but when we look at the sunnah of our Prophet Muhammad ?allall?hu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of All?h be upon him), we immediately see that factory farming is not something he would have approved of:

    It behooves you to treat the animals gently. (Muslim 4:2593)

    Allah has ordained kindness (and excellence) in everything. If the killing (of animals) is to be done, do it in the best manner, and when you slaughter, do it in the best manner by first sharpening the knife, and putting the animal at ease.” (Muslim 2:156)

    There is a reward for acts of charity to every beast alive.” (Bukhari 3:322; Muslim 4:2244)

    Animals raised tortured on factory farms are NOT treated gently, are NOT put at ease, and are NOT provided with acts of charity from their handlers. Instead, they are subjected to awful, cruel conditions just for the mere fact that they are animals, and somehow subhuman and unworthy of love, affection, and respect.

    So, now what?

    I’ve decided I’ve had enough. I cannot continue to support this atrocity any longer. Basem and I have been living a simpler, more eco-friendly lifestyle for the past couple years, and along with eating more organic, whole foods, we’ve also cut our meat consumption by a lot! Like I said, we only eat meat a couple times a month now. And with all the highly accessible halal options here in Toronto, there’s no lack of choice when deciding what we’re having on those two nights of the month.

    But we’ve got to be real here, the “Halal Meat” label doesn’t mean anything anymore. I don’t care if it was certified by ISNA or whoever; it seems that all they are concerned with is how the animals are slaughtered, without any concern for how the animals were treated during their short life. If an animal lived its entire life in misery, stress, and depression, I don’t care if it was slaughtered properly or not. How can these farmers/butchers say Bismillah before slaughtering an animal which was subjected to such unethical treatment under their watch? Oh yeah, they don’t…they just use a tape recorder or “bless the blade”.

    Do you see how feeble our understanding and implementation of halal has become? Just because something is halal, that doesn’t give us the right to do it all the time, by any means necessary. Moderation is key. Conscience is integral. Education is necessary.

    Is there a solution?

    We need more halal meat companies that use organic farming practices. That means no antibiotics, hormones, or pesticides. That means allowing cattle to graze in open fields of grass (instead of grains, which are difficult to digest). That means letting chickens bask in the sun, while munching on weeds and insects.

    Here in Toronto, we are blessed, alhamdulillah, to have the wonderful company, BlossomPure Organic – a truly halal, organic foods company. They work with the Amish and Mennonite farmers just outside the city, who raise all the meat on their organic farms. The slaughterer goes out to the farms and slaughters the animals on-site before loading them onto the truck and driving them back to the store to be sold. From the very beginning, these animals are treated with respect; by slaughtering them onsite (as opposed to driving them back to the store), the burden and stress of travel is completely removed from the animal, and placed on the slaughterer.

     

     

    The Prophet was a semi-vegetarian

    Yes, organic meat is much more expensive, but it doesn’t have to be! Here’s a simple tip: don’t eat so much of it! Of course it will be expensive if you eat meat 4, 5, 6 nights aweek. But here’s a radical idea: cut it down to just once a week! Then just once a month. Then to just on special occasions. The Prophet Muhammad ?allall?hu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of All?h be upon him) didn’t eat meat everyday, or every week, or barely every month! It was saved for special occasions; something to celebrate and enjoy.

    If your meat is not organic, it’s NOT HALAL – simple as that! If I cannot find organic halal meat in my area, guess what? I just don’t eat meat! You know what we can eat freely, and is in utter abundance? All the creatures of the sea! Fish, shrimp, crab, lobster, etc. All of these are healthy alternatives (if caught using sustainable fishing methods). Again, moderation is key, so let’s not aim to replace all the beef in our diet with salmon, for example. ;)

    And if we are going to strive to follow the sunnah of our Prophet ?allall?hu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of All?h be upon him), we MUST include his sunnah for eating (in general), and consuming meat (in particular). Even Umar ibn al Khattab [ra], during his khilafa, prohibited eating meat everyday. He said:

    Beware of meat, because it has an addiction like the addiction of wine. (Malik)

     

    Let’s Make A Change!

    Let us take the lessons from the Qur’an and the Sunnah and really, truly apply them to our lives. Let us stand up for what is right and just, and denounce that which is wrong and unjust. Let us enjoin the good and forbid the evil, as Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He) states in surat Ali ‘Imran (3:110).

    We all know the current practices of the “halal meat” industry are wrong, and we all can do something about it. Take that first step, however small it may be. Just renew your intentions, take that first step, and Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He) will take care of the rest. I’m not here to tell you what to do; only you know what you need to do. But I can say that making a change is possible, however difficult or inconvenient it may be. Say a little prayer, ask Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He) for guidance and strength, and just do it!

    About the author
    Sarah is a wife, mother, teacher, and human rights activist with a passion for green living and a simple, sustainable lifestyle. She writes about her experiences in attaining the simple life at Nature’s Nurture – a blog about everything simple, natural, and homemade. She can also be found on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

    Originally published on HalalFocus 

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