Local Farmers – Buttrum Family Farm

For this assignment, a group of friends and I decided to travel to the Hamilton Farmers’ Market to meet our local produces and farmer. The decision for Hamilton Farmer’s Market is that they are the only farmer’s market that is open throughout the Winter and have most operating hours. The majority of Farmer’s Markets around the GTA around only operating once a week during the winter season.

In the farmer’s market we approached Buttrums Family Farm. We met with Shae, one of the workers for Buttrums Family Farm and had a This is a local farming family that has been around for 160 years. The farm has been passed down through three generation and recently one of the owner’s sons has agreed to take over the farm, continuing the legacy of the farm. During the summer seasons, the farm grows a large variety of crops including potatoes, lettuce, squash, and onions. However, during the winter seasons, up until December, they can only produce shallots and squash. They support local producers and will buy and resell for other farmers. They also purchase selective citrus products from Mexico and USA due to the climate advantage. One thing special about the farm is that they go to a local producer in Kitchener to buy and resell maple syrup at cost.

Buttrums chooses to farm organically with no use of chemicals or sprays. They attempted to use strays for one year but ran into problems with the crop and returned to growing organic. From the conversation with Shae, there was not a major determining factor as to why they chose organic other than they have been doing so for generations and ran into problems when they did use it. The farm did not have any major political or environmental initiatives but does believe that people should be buying locally more. The reason for this is because major grocery stores that buy from farmers usually use their buying power to lower buying prices. This hurts the farmers and thus, if we can encourage buying from local farms we can help farmers gain but some of their buying power. In addition, this would help encourage more people to get into farming. Another issue that Shae bought up was that the average age of farmers is 73 years old. This means that without someone to pass the farm onto, in the case of Buttrums Family Farm, they end up closing shop.


Before meeting with Shae and learning about Buttrums Family Farm, we spoke to another farmer called Fleetwood. They are also a local farmer that has been operating since 1933. Unlike Buttrums, Fleetwood had chosen to use chemical and sprays to protect their crop. This ensured that they have a good crop and are able to provide produce consistently. Although they had two different farming philosophies they shared one common concern. It was the fact that current farmers are too old and there are not enough young farmers that are entering the market. This was their biggest concern but they did not seem to have a solution to encourage new entrants. As expected however, the produce variety  was limited. To provide customers with more choice, these farmers continued buy produce from out the country. Price-wise, they were as competitive as the large grocery stores. Personally, I still enjoy the greater variety and choice that the large grocery stores offer.


Venison – Roadkill, Hunting and from the Butcher

I am a huge fan of game meat. Although much tougher and often have a very strong scent to them, I believe they have much more flavour and the farm raised meat. An animal I particularly enjoy is Venison (Deer). Although they are sold in selected butchery shops in Toronto, my fondest memory of retrieving this meat is via roadkill. Over the summer and fall season en-route home from Montreal to Toronto you often find Deer on the side of the road. Depending on your luck, the animal was recently killed and the meat is still good. To answer your question, “Yes”, it is league in Canada to retrieve roadkill as long as you register with Ministry of Natural Resources. Normally, these animals are too big to take whole and the best option is to butcher them on the spot and retrieve the cuts you want. Being on the side of the road, you want to be able to butchery the animal quickly and move on. Thus, ideally you want the rear legs. The leg comprises of several different possible cuts including the shank, the round and the rump.


How to Butcher a Deer. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2016, from http://www.chefdepot.net/agingwildgame.htm

Of these cuts, I have chosen the shank. The shank is usually the cheapest part of the venison as it is usually the toughest and has the least amount of meat. In the Vietnamese culture these shanks are slowly braised to make a stew which is used as the base of a hotpot meal. This venison hotpot is perfect for the cool fall weather. It’s even great during the hot summer days when you just want to sweat profusely.


ROADKILL TIP: Let someone else hit the animal – or your car repair bill may not be worth the meat.


Venison the Game Meat

Venison is the name for any game meat that come from an antlered animal. Among these antlered animals is deer. (1) Deer are domestic to Canada and there are many variety in Ontario. The most commonly hunted in Ontario is white-tailed deer. Other species include mule deer, caribou, elk and moose. (1) In Ontario, you are able to hunt both Does and Bucks; however, hunting Does and Fawns are strictly regulated. (2) They all have very similar anatomy and, in my opinion, have very similar taste. There are also many placed in Ontario that raise White-Tailed Deer. (3) Because they are difficult to obtain, the venison meat that you find in markets, restaurants and hotels are farm-raised. Although, there are many farms in Canada and around the world that raise deer, it is still considered a game meat as it still carries much of the characteristics of game meat. (1) Venison meat that coming from animals that have been hunted cannot be sold in Canada but can be enjoyed by the hunter and friends. (1) The shank is a cut of meat that comes from the rear or the front legs of the animal. The shank generally starts from the ankle of the leg and extends just above the knee of the animal. The shanks are usually used as grounded meat or cut into Osso Bucco cuts. Osso Bucco cuts are round, steak like cuts with the bone in. The shank also has a lot of cartilage that make the meat very tough. In addition, shanks tend to not have a lot of meat.


“Ossobucco Cut” (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2016, from http://www.feed.com.br/mundo-da-carne/cultura/ossobuco-conheca-todo-o-sabor-desse-corte-de-origem-italiana/

(1) Welcome to Ontario Venison. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2016, from http://www.ontariovenison.ca/

(2) WHITE-TAILED DEER. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2016, from https://www.ontariotravel.net/en/play/hunting/hunting-species/white-tailed-deer

Buying Venison Shank

Discuss cooking methods that can be applied to this cut and the reasons why these methods are suitable.

The shank are generally is a very cheap cut from the venison. The current price for “100% Grassfed Red Deer Venison Shank” is $9.99 per lb. (3) The shank have very tough meat with lots of elastin and cartilage. The best way to utilize the cut is a slow cooking method using the bones for added flavour. An alternative to this would be to ground the meat to make a burger or a sausages. However, because of the limited amount of meat on shanks, it is not the best way to utilize. This is because the majority of the flavour and weight come from the bone of the shank.

(3) (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2016, from http://www.realfoodtoronto.com/new-zealand-grassfed-venison-shank.html

Cooking Venison Shank

Vietnamese Style Venison Shank Stew

Venison Shank, Ossobucco cut 500g
Large Onion, finely chopped 250g
Shallots, peeled 12 Whole
Fresh Ginger, crushed, 3cm 1
Garlic Cloves, crushed 4 cloves
Chinese Five Spice 20g
Cinnamon Stick 1 Piece
Star Anise 3 Pieces
Lemongrass Stems 2 Pieces
Fish Sauce 10g
Dark Soy Sauce 20g
Unsmoked Sweet Paprika 5g
Sugar 20g
Strong Beef Stock (Water can be replacement) 500mL
Carrots, peeled & cut, Large Mirepoix 300g
Sweet Potatoes, peeled & diced 150g


1.       Put Venison Shanks into a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring the pot to a boil and cook for 5 mins to clean the venison shanks. Strain shanks and set aside.
2.       Fry the onion and whole shallots until the onions begins to brown, then add the ginger, garlic, five spice, cinnamon, star anise, and lemon grass and stir well.
3.       Stir in the fish sauce, soy sauce, paprika, sugar, stock, carrots, sweet potato and venison shanks
4.       Cover and simmer very gently for 1½-2 hours, stirring occasionally until the shank meat is tender
5.       Stew can be served with rice, use as a base for hotpot or eaten with bread.