The Ranch Gate Market in Sylvan Lake has pursued a ‘locally sourced’ policy for their meat products. They guarantee that 80 per cent of the meat they sell is sourced within 80 miles of the store — and they normally exceed 90 per cent.
But what does ‘locally sourced’ mean for the meat’s quality, flavour and nutritional value?
Local food raised using sustainable, regenerative techniques
In going locally sourced, the Ranch Gate Market is also pursuing sustainable and regenerative suppliers. These farmers and ranchers raise meat for sale the same way they raise it for their own families.
Much of Ranch Gate’s beef is produced by a Central Alberta family whose animals are born, raised and fed on the same farm. The first time they leave their familiar territory is when they go to the abattoir. They live in a low stress, comfortable environment with plenty of space and a ‘free choice’ ration where the animal is free to choose how much hay they eat and their grain ration is limited and delivered by hand each day.
All of the Central Alberta ranchers that Ranch Gate works with raise their cattle, bison and yak in the same caring way.
“Our grass-fed beef, yak or bison are raised on open pasture in a natural setting. Two of the three producers use adaptive multi-paddock regenerative grazing and the other a more traditional rotational grazing system. In all three, the animals live in a low stress natural environment where they have space to run,” says Stewart Staudinger, an applied scientist and Central Alberta rancher who co-owns the Ranch Gate Market in Sylvan Lake.
Local processing free from chemicals
Processing is just as important to your meat’s quality.
Ranch Gate works with provincially inspected processor Meat Chop Inc. in Penhold, AB. Marc, the Swiss butcher who runs Meat Chop, is dedicated to providing natural and traditional products for his customers.
“Marc has been pressured to use artificial sprays to inhibit bacterial formation during production, and he’s given the inspectors a flat ‘NO!’” Staudinger says.
Ranch Gate has found three people who react severely to the corn-based spray used by the big commercial processors, including one family member.
“The problem with commercial food production is the industrialisation involved. It’s resulted in synthetic chemicals, steroids, hormones, etc. being introduced into the food chain. In addition, it focuses on high profit processed foods that have poor nutrient density, high calories and are high in inflammatory industrial PUFAs. These all contribute toward chronic diseases,” he says.
Quality Central Alberta meat, and a strong Alberta economy
At the Ranch Gate, the goal is not to ‘skip the dishes’ but ‘skip the chemicals and junk foods’. They know their producers, and know their animals travel a small distance from their home farms to Meat Chop, and then to Ranch Gate.
“Every person in that short supply chain lives and works in Central Alberta. They’re feeding their family, friends and communities and supporting their local economies. From our Central Alberta farms to your Central Alberta plate, we strive to provide the care and attention you’d expect from a good friend and neighbour.”
By contrast, the meat you buy in a big-box store has had a rough life. It’s travelled hundreds, if not thousands of kilometres, been treated chemically for multiple issues and arrives in the store with lower nutrient density and higher contamination. Most of the money you pay for it leaves Alberta, and Canada, to foreign owned multi-national processors.
“‘Locally Sourced’ means local economy, local people, artisan quality, high nutrient density and low chemical contamination. We believe that’s a good thing and we hope you do too.”
Visit The Ranch Gate Market in Sylvan Lake for meat, cheese and pantry items from a variety of healthy local producers. Find the store at 380-49 Hinshaw Dr., open Tuesday to Saturday. To learn more about local farming and nutrition, visit mflbisonranch.com.