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Monday, June 1, 2015

East Lynn Farmers Market: So Where's The Beef?

The East Lynn Park Farmers' Market opens for the season this Thursday, and we’ve got some great news for meat lovers: the beef sold at the market by farmer Henricus Verhoeven just got glowing marks for its nutritional value! You might remember Verhoeven from last summer as the bearded gentleman who sold his delicious homemade sausages and a huge variety of meats and eggs from Styrofoam coolers at the front of the market.

Recently, Professor Richard Bazinet, a professor of nutritional sciences at U of T, tested Verhoeven's steak and found it contained a far better ratio of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids than typical supermarket beef. Verhoeven's meat boasted a spectacular omega6 to omega3 ratio of just over three to one. 

Amazing, you are all saying. But Pioneer, what does that mean?? This is good because beef is typically a higher, unhealthier ratio.  Omega-3s are a family of fats generally considered to be healthy, in fish like salmon and plant versions like flax and chia. Omega-6, on the other hand, is pro-inflammatory, and we get too much of it from processed foods. In other words, shop at East Lynn market for your dinner and you’re one step to getting healthier!

Verhoeven, who runs the 100-acre Bio Vision Farm north of Guelph, says his certified-organic beef is 100 percent grass fed, a coveted status among the health-conscious these days. His Scottish Highland herd -- the sample that was tested at U of T --  has been on grass for about 25 years. But ‘grass-fed’ is a tough claim to prove, since there’s no certification for it. That’s why Professor Bazinet, a fatty acids researcher, has started testing beef himself. Verhoeven’s beef was low in omega-6 and high in omega-3, Bazinet says, and that’s convincing evidence the herd was truly eating grass.

What’s the biggie? Well, Bazinet has sampled a lot of steak, and says the flavor is much better with grass fed -- but he cautions that it must be cooked differently than supermarket steak.

“I put in on a really hot grill for 30-40 seconds, flip and wait another 40 seconds,” he advised. “My wife says I should not be allowed to call it cooking!” (please be careful trying this at home!)

The weather forecast calls for sunny skies this Thursday, a perfect day to fire up the grill and give some grass-fed steaks a whirl and don’t forget some fresh Ontario asparagus on the side! 

***THANK YOU to our guest blogger Heidi who did ALL the leg work on this story for us. We hope she will come back and blog for us some more! 

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