Thanksgiving: Gifts from the land for your perfect feast

(NC) -- Rural Canada is famous for producing some of the most delicious food on the planet. From crisp apples to impressive roast beef, the quality is in the process. But with most of us knowing little about farming these days, perhaps we could benefit from some understanding of that process. Just what does it take to put quality into the foods that grace our Thanksgiving table?

Take roast beef for example: It all starts with good cattle – good genes are key to good beef from the get-go. Canadian cattle breeds are a hearty lot – well suited for our varied climate of harsh winters and hot summers. “The tropical Brahma breed could only be happy here in a parka” jokes Dan Ferguson, cow-calf farmer north of Colborne, Ontario. Canada has cattle of all colours – about 30 breeds and cross breeds. The BIG 5 are: Angus, Charolais, Herford, Simmental and Limousin.

And caring for cattle has much to do with quality beef as well. At Sunnymead Farms feedlot north of Brampton, owner, Bill Sheard sums it up: “Cattle need to be happy and healthy. Like humans, stress on an animal affects their physical and mental health and that ultimately affects the quality of the beef”.

And of course what cattle eat, ultimately effects the beef on your table. At Sunnymead, Bill raises cattle to maturity on a diet of corn, hay and forage that he mainly grows himself. He works with a nutritionist to develop the perfect blend to support cattle growth, health and ultimately produce consistent flavorful and tender beef.

As Canadians we have much to be thankful for. As we sit down to our bountiful feast this Thanksgiving, take a moment to acknowledge the good work and process that went into getting it to your table.

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