Hi everyone, this is Mario Fiorucci - owner of The Healthy Butcher... pretty much everyone is correct - but let me clarify about grassfed beef in Ontario.
(1) Is 100% Grassfed beef available year round? YES, because they eat hay during the winter.
(2) Is the quality of 100% Grassfed beef the same now (in the Late Winter/Spring) versus Autumn/Early Winter the same? NO, both the taste and health qualities of the meat (whether it be beef, bison, elk, whatever grassfed animal) is better when the animal is on fresh pasture. Regarding taste - of course, that's a subjective or personal preference... So to say it is "better" is not necessarily true - the autumn/early winter animals will have a more pronounced flavour and taste more "grassy" hah... if i can use that description.... "gamey" would be another word people use. Regarding health - there is a definitive advantage to eating live grass versus dead grass. So the Omega 3s and essential fatty acids found in the autumn animals will definitely be higher. That being said, The Omega 3s and essential fatty acids in a grassfed beef slaughtered in the winter or sprint will definitely be higher than a grain or corn finished beef (which has virtually zero Omega 3s and EFAs).
(3) A good follow-up question is this: Why offer grassfed animals in the winter or spring? Well, since the BSE crisis, there is a 30-month rule in Canada which says that any beef that is over 30 months old must have it's spine removed.... This effects the loin and many other cuts of the beef, and is definitely not a good thing. So, for our farmers that have beef approaching the 30-month age in the winter or spring, they have no choice but to slaughter them, otherwise they will lose a lot of money. And because we work closely with our farmers, we support them both in the summer and the winter.
As an aside: most of the grassfed farmers have to always push the 30-month age bracket because they do not gain weight as much as grain/corn finished animals, so they have to hope that their animals are not "deemed" over 30 months (even if they have birth certificates to prove the animals are less than 30, if the inspector looks at the teeth and believes they are over 30, then they are treated as such). This policy in itself makes it very difficult for grassfed farmers in Ontario.
I hope this adds some clarity to the discussion.
The Healthy Butcher
565 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V, CA
8362 Kennedy Rd, Markham, ON L3R, CA