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Best Butchers In Toronto For Locally Sourced Meat


We are pleased to announce that we have won 2nd place in BlogTO's "Best Butchers for Locally Sourced Meat" contest. 

A big and heartfelt thank you to all of you that voted!


Toronto Local Butcher


This content originally appeared on BlogTO. Click here to see the original post.


“The best butchers for locally sourced meat in Toronto will let you grab a perfect cut of beef, lamb or whole chicken as well as sausage and whole bunch of prepared food. If you're going to eat meat, you might as well buy it from a butcher with a conscience.”


Here are the best butchers for locally sourced meat in Toronto:

2nd Place:

BlossomPure is a grocery store offering the latest in modern health needs. Providing organic groceries and products, the aim is to support social responsible consumption. Food items include - grass fed meat, halal food, wild fish and Mennonite products, like homemade jam and pure maple syrup.”


BlossomPure Organic and Local Market

Blossom Pure
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BlossomPure Joy (Toronto Sun, Rita Demontis)-BlossomPure Organic

BlossomPure Joy (Toronto Sun, Rita Demontis)

Fahim Alwan Founder Of BlossomPure

BlossomPure Joy


BLOSSOMING SUCCESS: A while back, I had written about this wonderful little shop in the west end that focused on local foods.

BlossomPure Organic specializes in grass-fed organic Halal meat and dairy products, not to mention a fine line of organic-based fresh produce, fruits, cereals, honey, condiments, spices, herbs and so much more.

I loved that owner Fahim Alwan was so committed to his message, travelling all over southern Ontario to work with local farmers to bring in only the best — at great prices.

The focus was on animals that are ethically raised; not confined or injected with growth hormones, fed only organic feed and raised on local Ontario farms by certified organic farmers.

Alwan believes in living the 100 Mile diet!

Well, a recent visit revealed the company is not only thriving but growing.

The shop is still small but has taken over a bigger chunk of space, and there has been an expansion of offerings.

And the commitment and passion is as strong as ever, as I noticed Alwan speaking with customers about the products being purchased.

This guy knows where every single product comes from — from the eggs to the meat to preserves.



“It’s all about connecting,” says the affable Alwan, who stresses compassion in his messaging. “And we are committed to connecting our customers to the local farmers who grow their food.”

BlossomPure focuses “primarily on the ethical treatment of the animal, as well as supporting our local farmers. We deal mainly with certified organic farmers who raise their cattle on pasture (for beef, lamb and goat) while they keep other species unharmed.”

The company started in 2002 as a small distributor and became a supplier of meat and produce to many health-food stores.

A few years ago it shifted toward retail and home-delivery, as well as supplying restaurants.

Aside from fresh meat, you’ll find deli meat made with no nitrate, gluten or filler, and hotdogs and sausages made from lean ground meat.

And it purchases such products as eggs, honey, maple syrup, preserves from “conscientious Amish and Mennonite farmers,” along with other dairy products.

Alwan personally visits all the farms he does business with.

And he won’t sell anything he won’t eat.


Originally published in the Toronto Sun


Blossom Pure
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Organic Purveyor Blossoms-BlossomPure Organic

Organic Purveyor Blossoms

While out shopping recently I happened upon this absolutely delightful shop called BlossomPure, specializing in local grass-fed organic Halal meat and dairy products, not to mention a fine line of organic-based fresh produce, fruits, cereals, honey, condiments, spices, herbs and so much more, all neatly tucked into a quiet little strip mall on The East Mall. What an absolute pleasure speaking with the owner, Fahim Alwan, who was so passionate about the foods he offers.


BlossomPure Organic Market 


“We have a commitment to connect our fellow customers to the local farmers who grow their food,” said Alwan.

The company focuses “primarily on the ethical treatment of the animal as well as supporting our local farmers. We deal mainly with certified organic farmers who raise their cattle on pasture (for beef, lamb and goat) while they keep other species unharmed. Our goal is to make organic Halal meat and other products affordable for everyone.”

The company started in 2002 as a small distributor and became a supplier of meat and produce to many health food stores. Three years ago they shifted towards retail and home-delivery, as well as supplying restaurants.

“Our main products include, beef, lamb, chicken, turkey (in season) and wild-caught fish. Our meat is known for being local organic grass-fed and Halal — which means humanely slaughtered by one of our staff close to the farm — with the emphasis being on treating the animals with utmost care and humanity.”



Aside from fresh meat, the company — with two locations — offers deli meat made with no nitrate, gluten or filler, and hotdogs and sausages made from lean ground meat. Plus they purchase such products as eggs, honey, maple syrup, preserves from “conscientious Amish and Mennonite farmers” along with other dairy products. I purchased a dozen large brown eggs for only $4.50 — just picked up fresh from the farm!

The store I visited sells well over 700 other items of fresh produce, flours, grains, nuts, dried fruits, pasta and sauce, canned food, breakfast snacks, condiments and more. I found the prices reasonable, especially the meats, including chicken legs and thighs — the taste of the baked chicken was amazing.

Alwan has been in the business for years and personally visits all the farms he does business with.

And he won’t sell anything he won’t eat.

Blossom Pure
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BlossomPure: A Review by HalalFoodie-BlossomPure Organic

BlossomPure: A Review by HalalFoodie

Jun 13, 2012

A few weeks ago, we received a surprise visit from the wonderful HalalFoodie, a prominent figure in the restaurant-reviewing world.  One of our very own organic, grass-fed New York steaks had the honour of being lovingly prepared, photographed, and mused over!


BlossomPure Organic and Local Market


Blossom Pure Organic Halal Meat and Grocery 

Blossom Pure Organic halal meat and grocery is the only place you can find organic halal meat in Toronto, actually, make that Canada. Owner Fahim Alwan is passionate about his business. He’s even looking into delivery to as far as Ottawa (with certain restrictions) to make it accessible to more people.

Alwan was recently featured in Toronto Life Magazine for his unique venture. It’s a great read, highly informative and goes into detail about the company and their slaughtering practices –> Allah Mode: Article in Toronto Life Magazine By Sasha Chapman.

There are two locations; Mississauga and newly opened Etobicoke. I’ve decided to head out to the Etobicoke location which is just around the corner from Sherway Garden’s Mall and conveniently located right off of hwy 427.

The store is small and tidy. There’s little inventory, which in my opinion is a great way to ensure you’re getting the freshest product. I’m more interested in the meat so I go straight to the back where I find two display cases and a couple of stand up freezers/refrigerators.



Unfortunately, I did not get to meet the owner himself (I gave them a surprise visit!) but a store associate was there and walked me through the whole meat slaughter process.

He also employs a full-time slaughterman to travel to nearby processing plants to perform zabihah. (To minimize the animals’ stress, he puts the burden of travel on his slaughterman.) — Sasha Chapman, Toronto Life

They completely eliminate the middle-man by slaughtering their own meat. Doing this also gives them full control over various cuts they offer as well and staff mentioned special requests could also be possible. All meat is vacuum sealed to ensure maximum freshness and is freezer safe for up to six months.

Beside the meat display there’s a small assortment of dairy and produce. Alwan goes out to Amish and Mennonite farms to hand-pick fresh items like yogurt. Delivering these products to his stores himself, means cutting out the need for a distributor and ensuring only the best goes on his store shelves.

At the front of the store there is a good variety of grocery products. Some I’ve seen at other organic stores, but most of Blossom Pure Organic items like honey, jams and pickles from Amish and Mennonite farms, are unique.

I’ve toured the store, spoken to staff for some organic 101 and now I’m ready to check out with the following items:

  • New York Steak
  • Rib Eye Steaks
  • Turkey Summer Sausage
  • Spicy Beef Pepperettes
  • Lean Ground Beef

The price is higher than what I’m used to. I don’t think I’ve ever paid this much for grocery or meat before. BUT, I know anything organic is expensive because it’s produced on a smaller scale, using better ingredients. The cashier explains that although their price for meat is higher than regular factory meat, comparing to other organic places, they are priced significantly less. Many of their customers are actually not Muslim for this reason.

Personally, I don’t think I could afford to eat organic exclusively. However, my family and I are making small changes by starting out with some of the products we consume the most within the dairy and meat categories. For example, for the past two years we’ve only purchased organic milk for our home and this summer, we will try to switch to Blossom Pure Organic for barbecuing. To help fund these changes we’ve cut out indulgences like pop and processed snacks from our house. Small changes, but in the right direction (in my opinion).

Later that same evening we BBQ the New York steak and make burgers from the ground beef. After rubbing both sides with some olive oil, I season the steak with salt and ground pepper no more than a few minutes before it goes on the grill. Salting too early will dehydrate your steak by drawing out moisture. After removing the steak from the grill I top it with butter and give it another few minutes to rest before cutting to eat. Check out this video for grilling tips using the fist trick for determining how done you want your steak.


Grass-Fed Beef Steak


I’ve tried a lot of steaks in restaurants and I’ve made a lot of steaks at home. The New York steak from Blossom Pure Organic is the best I’ve had in recent memory. The texture was melt-in-your-mouth and not tough even though it was grilled to medium. I can absolutely taste the difference. I order less than mediocre steaks when we eat out for as little as $20 to as much as $50-60 and this one just about tops them all. So now I’m going to think twice about ordering steaks again (unless it’s a new place for a review!) — instant savings!

Now for the ground beef from Blossom Pure Organic. I season it with a lot of salt, a fair amount of ground pepper, and a bit of garlic and ginger paste. We’re planning to make burgers. When shaping the patties with your hand, avoid over pressing the meat. The idea is to keep it loose in the middle so the juices are kept inside. We sprinkle a little more salt on the patties once they’re on the grill as well. I must say I’m not disappointed at all. It’s really good tasting meat. Very different from factory processed meat.

I feel better about eating meat from Blossom Pure Organic because I know exactly how it’s been handled right from the farm to my kitchen table. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for anything else I eat these days!



Originally published on

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The “Halal Meat” Scam and Why I’m a Semi-Vegetarian-BlossomPure Organic

The “Halal Meat” Scam and Why I’m a Semi-Vegetarian

 | 28/04/2012 |


Yes, you read that right – the term “halal meat” is a scam, which is why I’m a semi-vegetarian. By semi-vegetarian, I mean that I only eat meat on certain occasions, under specific circumstances, and following very strict guidelines. I would say in a given month, I eat meat twice, maybe three times (if that). “But whyyy?” you might ask? Simple. I’m following the commands of Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He) in the Qur’an, and the sunnah of our Prophet Muhammad ?allall?hu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of All?h be upon him).

What’s the Problem?

Let me just say, this post has been in my drafts for over a week. Then yesterday, I saw this post from Hijabman, in which he quoted the following, which was my sign to finish and publish this piece already:

“75 percent of Halal meat in America produced in the year 2000 came from pork fed cows, according to Dr. Stephen Emanuel, from Agway Feed Company.” – SoundVision

In the Muslim world (and the Arab world, in general), meat has become a staple at the dinner table…and the lunch table…and the breakfast table. From kebabs (meat cubes) and koftas (ground beef kabob), to shawarma (minced meat) sandwiches and sujouk (beef sausage), our community has built an unhealthy obsession around meat. It’s everywhere; weddings, funerals, birthday parties, aqeeqas, Eid feasts…if there is a gathering of Muslims for any reason, you better believe, there will be meat!

Because Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He) made meat lawful for us in the Qur’an, and because Prophet Muhammad ?allall?hu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of All?h be upon him) ate meat, we’ve convinced ourselves that it’s our God-given right to consume as much meat as we possibly can on any given day. Ahh, the Qur’an and the Sunnah – the pinnacles of all Islamic law and jurisprudence…let’s take a look at what these two sources have to say about the consumption of meat, and compare that to what’s taking place in Muslim homes across the globe.

Halal in the Qur’an

The Qur’an contains verse after verse telling us to eat only that which is lawful and good. Here are just a few of those verses:

O ye people! Eat of what is on earth, lawful and good; and do not follow the footsteps of the Evil One, for he is to you an avowed enemy. (Al-Baqarah:168)

O you who believe (in the Oneness of Allah)! Eat of the good things that We have provided you, and be grateful to Allah if it is (indeed) He Whom you worship. (Al-Baqarah:172)

Eat of that which Allah hath provided for you lawful and good; but fear Allah, in Whom ye believe. (Al Maidah:88)

As we see from these verses, Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He) tells us to eat that which is lawful AND good – not lawful ORgood. In Arabic, these terms are halal and tayyib. But what does that really mean?

Islamic law states that in order for meat to be considered halal, very specific conditions must be met:

  1. An animal must not be beaten, mutilated, or branded.
  2. An animal must be killed in accordance to very specific guidelines, which ensure the quickest slaughter, and the least amount of pain.
  3. Muslims are strictly forbidden from eating the flesh of carnivorous animals.
  4. The name of Allah must be invoked over each animal before it is killed.



What is Tayyib?
Most Muslims are familiar with the term halal (lawful, permissable), but sadly, our community is much less familiar (if at all) with the term tayyib (pure, wholesome, nutritious, good). How can this be, when the two terms are mentioned together in the Qur’an numerous times? How can we ignore such an important aspect of what Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He) has allowed us to eat?
The term tayyib is just as important as halal and should be treated as such! To me, tayyib is today’s equivalent of ‘organic’, meaning locally grown food, free from hormones, pesticides, antibiotics, artificial anything, and in the case of livestock, free-range, grass-fed (beef), and well-treated. Yes, well-treated! Lest we forget what Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He) tells us in the Qur’an about the treatment of animals:

“There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth nor a being that flies on its wings, but they are communities like you. Nothing have We omitted from the Book, and they all shall be gathered to their Rabb (Lord) in the end.” (Al-An’am:38)

“Halal” Factory Farms are NOT Halal

Isn’t that beautiful? Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He) likens the animals on this earth to us humans, with communities and an ultimate return to their Lord! If Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He) has elevated these creatures to such a high status, why then, are Muslims not outraged by the inhumane and downright evil treatment to which animals are subjected on today’s factory farms? I won’t go into every detail (you can read more at this article), but here are just a few of those heinous treatments:

  • Factory farms are over-crowded, putting the animals under a great deal of stress, leading to behaviors like cannibalism and fighting. These behaviors are prevented by debeaking chickens, and dehorning and castrating cows, without the use of anesthetics. [Mutilation]
  • Cows are killed using electric shock so that their throats are easier to cut. There have been reports that some animals are still alive by the time they make it down the line to be dismembered. [Slow and Painful Death]
  • Natural herbivores are fed slaughterhouse waste, including fat, blood, meat, and bone meal. Dairy cows are given feed with ground pork bones in it. “Animal cannibalism” is also common, with cows being fed the blood and meat of other cattle as protein supplements. [Carnivorous]

Even Muslim farms have been known to undermine the law that Allah’s name be invoked over each animal before it is killed. Some of them just recite it once at the beginning of the day, others have it playing on a tape recorder over and over, as they slaughter each animal. Others, more, practice the use of “blessed blades“, wherein they either inscribe Bismillah Allahu Akbar on the blades or someone says the phrase and blows on the blades, thereby “blessing” the blades for the slaughter…nevermind the fact that machine-slaughter is against Islamic law in the first place! They’ve turned into a simple, ritualistic behavior…as if this is all that’s necessary in order for it to be considered halal.

What is the real Halal?

Saying Bismillah Allahu Akbar before slaughtering an animal is not simply a ritual, as these farms have reduced it; when we invoke Allah’s name on an animal that will be slaughtered, we are speaking directly to Him, thanking Him for His bounty and asking Him to accept the animal’s sacrifice. We are acknowledging that the animal is His divine creation, that we have done our best to provide it with a healthy, happy life, and that we will sacrifice it in order to feed and nourish our family.

How many of us remember all of these things before we dig into the lamb kebab or that chicken biryani? My guess is very few. But that’s only because we have been conditioned and desensitized to the sacred meaning of eating meat. With the growth of factory farming in the past few decades, meat has become an expendable resource, like sugar or flour. It’s just always there, it’s not going anywhere, so we don’t really think too much of it.

This is where we’ve failed – failed the animals, failed ourselves, failed our communities. We are supposed to be ‘ahlus sunnah wal jama’ah’, but when we look at the sunnah of our Prophet Muhammad ?allall?hu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of All?h be upon him), we immediately see that factory farming is not something he would have approved of:

It behooves you to treat the animals gently. (Muslim 4:2593)

Allah has ordained kindness (and excellence) in everything. If the killing (of animals) is to be done, do it in the best manner, and when you slaughter, do it in the best manner by first sharpening the knife, and putting the animal at ease.” (Muslim 2:156)

There is a reward for acts of charity to every beast alive.” (Bukhari 3:322; Muslim 4:2244)

Animals raised tortured on factory farms are NOT treated gently, are NOT put at ease, and are NOT provided with acts of charity from their handlers. Instead, they are subjected to awful, cruel conditions just for the mere fact that they are animals, and somehow subhuman and unworthy of love, affection, and respect.

So, now what?

I’ve decided I’ve had enough. I cannot continue to support this atrocity any longer. Basem and I have been living a simpler, more eco-friendly lifestyle for the past couple years, and along with eating more organic, whole foods, we’ve also cut our meat consumption by a lot! Like I said, we only eat meat a couple times a month now. And with all the highly accessible halal options here in Toronto, there’s no lack of choice when deciding what we’re having on those two nights of the month.

But we’ve got to be real here, the “Halal Meat” label doesn’t mean anything anymore. I don’t care if it was certified by ISNA or whoever; it seems that all they are concerned with is how the animals are slaughtered, without any concern for how the animals were treated during their short life. If an animal lived its entire life in misery, stress, and depression, I don’t care if it was slaughtered properly or not. How can these farmers/butchers say Bismillah before slaughtering an animal which was subjected to such unethical treatment under their watch? Oh yeah, they don’t…they just use a tape recorder or “bless the blade”.

Do you see how feeble our understanding and implementation of halal has become? Just because something is halal, that doesn’t give us the right to do it all the time, by any means necessary. Moderation is key. Conscience is integral. Education is necessary.

Is there a solution?

We need more halal meat companies that use organic farming practices. That means no antibiotics, hormones, or pesticides. That means allowing cattle to graze in open fields of grass (instead of grains, which are difficult to digest). That means letting chickens bask in the sun, while munching on weeds and insects.

Here in Toronto, we are blessed, alhamdulillah, to have the wonderful company, BlossomPure Organic – a truly halal, organic foods company. They work with the Amish and Mennonite farmers just outside the city, who raise all the meat on their organic farms. The slaughterer goes out to the farms and slaughters the animals on-site before loading them onto the truck and driving them back to the store to be sold. From the very beginning, these animals are treated with respect; by slaughtering them onsite (as opposed to driving them back to the store), the burden and stress of travel is completely removed from the animal, and placed on the slaughterer.



The Prophet was a semi-vegetarian

Yes, organic meat is much more expensive, but it doesn’t have to be! Here’s a simple tip: don’t eat so much of it! Of course it will be expensive if you eat meat 4, 5, 6 nights a week. But here’s a radical idea: cut it down to just once a week! Then just once a month. Then to just on special occasions. The Prophet Muhammad ?allall?hu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of All?h be upon him) didn’t eat meat everyday, or every week, or barely every month! It was saved for special occasions; something to celebrate and enjoy.

If your meat is not organic, it’s NOT HALAL – simple as that! If I cannot find organic halal meat in my area, guess what? I just don’t eat meat! You know what we can eat freely, and is in utter abundance? All the creatures of the sea! Fish, shrimp, crab, lobster, etc. All of these are healthy alternatives (if caught using sustainable fishing methods). Again, moderation is key, so let’s not aim to replace all the beef in our diet with salmon, for example. ;)

And if we are going to strive to follow the sunnah of our Prophet ?allall?hu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of All?h be upon him), we MUST include his sunnah for eating (in general), and consuming meat (in particular). Even Umar ibn al Khattab [ra], during his khilafa, prohibited eating meat everyday. He said:

Beware of meat, because it has an addiction like the addiction of wine. (Malik)


Let’s Make A Change!

Let us take the lessons from the Qur’an and the Sunnah and really, truly apply them to our lives. Let us stand up for what is right and just, and denounce that which is wrong and unjust. Let us enjoin the good and forbid the evil, as Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He) states in surat Ali ‘Imran (3:110).

We all know the current practices of the “halal meat” industry are wrong, and we all can do something about it. Take that first step, however small it may be. Just renew your intentions, take that first step, and Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He) will take care of the rest. I’m not here to tell you what to do; only you know what you need to do. But I can say that making a change is possible, however difficult or inconvenient it may be. Say a little prayer, ask Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He) for guidance and strength, and just do it!

About the author
Sarah is a wife, mother, teacher, and human rights activist with a passion for green living and a simple, sustainable lifestyle. She writes about her experiences in attaining the simple life at Nature’s Nurture – a blog about everything simple, natural, and homemade. She can also be found on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

Originally published on HalalFocus 

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Halal and Organic...Finally!

 | 08/04/2009 |


Organic Halal Beef


Halal and Organic…Finally!

Although Halal is coming into its own as a food group, and Organic is already mainstream, the words Halal and Organic are rarely seen together. 

In England you do not see them together because the organic associations do not agree with Halal slaughter so will not certify Halal products. In other places you might not see them together because the butchers only want to discuss low price not quality of the meat. 

Unfortunately the Muslims are famous for wanting the lowest prices in their meat, and this is significant because, as statistics have shown, they eat the most meat.


Halal and Tayyib

However, if you go back to the Qur’an and you look for the word ‘Halal’ (permissible) where it refers to food, you will see it together with the word ‘Tayyib’ which means ‘good and wholesome’. 

Basically this is the same as putting Halal together with Organic, and this is the food that has been recommended to the people who follow the teachings of the Qur’an, who are told to eat food that is “Halal and Tayyib”. 

So you can imagine how pleased I was to discover one day an article on a man, whose shop is based just on the edge of Toronto, Canada, who is selling Halal Organic meat. Finally, I thought to myself, someone has understood the concept of Halal (permissible) and Tayyib (good and wholesome). 

At the end of the day, surely it is better to eat less meat of good quality, than consume large amounts of meat of low quality. I will not digress into the health issues on this topic.


Organic Halal Meat


Convenience Food

Many Muslims these days allow themselves to eat the meat of the ‘people of the Book’, which is deemed permissible in the Qur’an, but they have given the term a much broader meaning which does not restrict them to eat the meat of believing Jews and Christians, who would be people following the books of the Torah and the Bible. 

They have been told by religious scholars that it is basically acceptable to eat any meat, other than those types that are forbidden such as pork, in this time where finding Halal meat can be difficult in non-Muslim countries. 

This has become a convenience for them, but what they are forgetting is that one of the main reasons for eating Halal meat is not just because of the blessing that is given during the slaughter, but because approximately three times more blood is pumped out of the Halal-slaughtered animal than from an animal that is slaughtered in the non-Halal way. 

This means that the consumer is eating three times more blood left in the meat…which is the where the most toxins are stored.


Organic Halal Lamb


Halal and Healthy

In a time where people are being warned about the diseases connected to eating beef, the awareness of the toxicity of the blood of the animal should be of major importance to them. Halal slaughter is one of the ways to help decrease this.

Now add to this the Organic aspect, that the animal is not being pumped with hormones and antibiotics and whatever other additives might be in the feed of non-organic animals, and you have a final product that is both Halal and good and wholesome for the consumer, just as has been recommended to mankind in the Qur’an.

I called the man interviewed in the article, Mr. Fahim Alwan, owner of BlossomPure. He began selling Halal Organic meat 7 years ago, and I asked him who his customers were. Were the Muslims buying his products or the general public? He said that probably 70% of the people who bought BlossomPure Halal organic meat from his store, and the organic stores he supplies to are non-Muslim. There are only 30% that are Muslim, but out of that 30% they probably account for 50% of his sales. Proof again that Muslims consume larger amounts of meat than non-Muslims. A huge market that gets quotes of billions and trillions of dollars for potential sales in any article on Halal.

He commented that the Muslims need to be educated on the organic aspect of meat in order to appreciate why it is worth paying the extra amount for the purity of the meat they are consuming.



With the work that is being done internationally with Halal, we have discovered that the Muslim consumer not only needs to be educated about the quality of their meat, and why organic might be preferable, but about eating Halal itself. They need to be reminded why it is important to eat Halal meat, and not just to distinguish it from pork, but to distinguish it from animals that have not been slaughtered in the prescribed manner, and so have high blood content left in them. 

So I commend Mr. Alwan in his attempts to provide the Muslims with quality ‘Halal and Tayyib’ products, and I hope his customers, who come mostly by word of mouth, help educate other people on why they should also be looking for products of a permissible, good and wholesome nature. 

Through this network, I hope he can grow his company to succeed, not only to get a share of those millions and trillions promised for the Halal producers, but also to get the Muslims back on track with eating the food that is Halal for them to eat.


Originally published on HalalFocus

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How I Discovered Local Organic (Julie Folino)

By Julie Folino - May 11, 2009

I have always been a healthful minded person however a few years ago I learnt some things that surprised me.  Things that changed and simplified my relationship with food, particularly with meat.


BlossomPure Grass-Fed Beef


I had known for some time what ‘Organic’ meant in reference to fruits and vegetables however I was a little less educated about how to apply the term ‘Organic’ to the practice of raising and processing meat.  What I learned was this:  ‘Organic’ refers to a farming practice that most closely follows traditional all-natural farming methods.

In other words, no synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers or genetic modifications are used in growing crops or in breeding and raising poultry and livestock.  Moreover no animal by-products are used in the feed.  Livestock and poultry live in clean, healthy conditions, have access to open fields and pasture and are not kept in confinement.  Certified organic products follow strict standards set by a third party certifying body such as EcoCert and Pro-Cert.

As I researched more I realized that it wasn’t about whether or not I should be eating meat but rather what type of meat was I willing to fill our bodies with.  How far was our food traveling before making it to our table?  What did that mean in terms of freshness, nutrition and sustainability?  What food would make the best choice for us, our health and the environment.  The answers were simple, local, traditional and nutritious.

I learned through Dr. Weston A. Price’s findings that fat was not the enemy but that conventional farming just might be.  I learned that grass-fed or pastured animals have a significantly more beneficial vitamin, mineral and fat profile. 1

At the time, I shopped at a conventional grocery store and was daunted by the task of sourcing local organic grass-fed meat.  That’s when I discovered BlossomPure Organic in Mississauga.


BlossomPure Meat Organic Local Market


I was pleased to find that Fahim Alwan, the owner, over the past seven years had been developing a partnership with local Amish, Mennonite and certified organic farmers .  His search for fresh local organic foods to feed his family led to the founding of BlossomPure Organic in 2002.  Alwan had sourced the products, maintained the relationships with the farmers and made the products available to the general public.  It was a fruitful discovery.  (One that I could really sink my teeth into.)

Furthermore I learnt that BlossomPure not only offered local organic meat but that the meat was also halal.  Now I am not Muslim so I did not understand exactly what that meant until I read an article in Toronto Life Magazine about BlossomPure:

‘ Not only is Alwan’s meat organic and locally sourced, it’s also halal – permitted under Islamic law…halal meat is gaining favour with secular customers.  Because it’s usually processed on a smaller scale and often receives third-party certification from such organizations as the Islamic Society of North America, halal is becoming synonymous with quality, cleanliness, safety and superior animal welfare…the main difference between halal and non-halal meat is the method of the slaughter, traditionally done by hand.  According to zabihah (the Islamic law of ritual slaughter), an animal should not see another animal die, nor the knife used to kill it.  (Alwan) also employs a full-time slaughterman to travel to nearby processing plants to perform zabihah. (To minimize the animals’ stress, he puts the burden of travel on his slaughterman.)’2

Needless to say I was pleased.  Because BlossomPure is located just west of Toronto I don’t have to travel to St. Jacob or any other farming area to fulfill my desire for local meat, dairy, deli, seasonal produce, fresh free run eggs, honey and other Mennonite products.  I was also pleased to know that BlossomPure Deli Meats are made from organic meats without fillers, gluten or nitrates. This offered me a peace of mind after the recent listeria contaminations.



BlossomPure is not a full service grocery store but feels more like a farm store.  The staff is friendly and is happy to take an order for one prime cut steak or an entire side of beef - cut and packaged to my specifications.  I found the prices reasonable.  I feel closer to the farmers that grow my food when I shop at BlossomPure because I know Fahim has a relationship with every one of them.

It doesn’t get much simpler than that and we could all use a little more simplicity in our lives and in our eating habits – don’t you think? Today, if you want to live a healthy lifestyle and keep up with the demands of the modern world you need to make an extra effort to do so.  BlossomPure has helped me to do just that.



1. Sally Fallon and Mary Enig. “Splendor From the Grass.” The Weston A. Price Foundation’s Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts Quarterly Journal Summer 2000
2. Sasha Chapman, “Allah Mode.” Toronto Life Magazine March 2008

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Allah Mode: Toronto Life Magazine-BlossomPure Organic

Allah Mode: Toronto Life Magazine

Sasha Chapman, Toronto Life, March 9, 2008


Halal Organic Beef


From hot dog vendors to health food stores, halal is suddenly everywhere. It’s the latest twist in the story of ethical meat, and secular diners are eating it up.

When Maple Leaf Foods announced that listeria had infected its processing plant on Sheppard Avenue, people purged their fridges and freezers, and vowed never to eat mass-produced bologna again. Sales of cold cuts plummeted across the country. But not at Blossom­Pure, a small retail and wholesale business in Mississauga, where sales remained strong. The store’s owner, Fahim Alwan, fielded calls from prospective customers anxious to know the provenance of his salami.

Tainted-food scares usually run this predictable course: consu­mers stop, at least for a while, buying conventional, mass-produced foods and turn to alternative sources with a healthier, safer reputation. Not only is Alwan’s meat organic and locally sourced, it’s also halal—permitted under Islamic law. Like the kosher industry, which projects an aura of respectability among conscientious eaters of all faiths, halal meat is gaining favour with secular customers. Because it’s usually processed on a smaller scale and often receives third-party certification from such organizations as the Islamic Society of North America, halal is becoming synonymous with quality, cleanliness, safety and superior animal welfare.

Besides a ban on pork, the main difference between halal and non-halal meat is the method of slaughter, traditionally done by hand. According to zabihah (the Islamic law of ritual slaughter), an animal should not see another animal die, nor the knife used to kill it. The slaughterer must also invoke the name of Allah before drawing the scimitar quickly across the animal’s throat. The spinal cord is left intact to ensure that the blood drains out as quickly as possible.

Many people—Muslim or not—believe this process “purifies” the meat and results in a cleaner, better flavour, that the chick­en tastes more chickeny. While I can’t tell the difference between halal and non- halal chicken, I do appreciate the less common cuts available at halal butcher shops. At Blossom­Pure, Alwan sells chickens biryani style: cut into small pieces, bone-in, to keep the meat moist and tender when stewed or braised.


Organic Halal Chicken


Among non-believers, the most persuasive argument for choosing halal meat is that zabihah rules are more stringent than basic Canadian regulations. No animal by-products can be used in the feed, for instance. The animal must be in good health and able to stand. You’d think this would be an obvious requirement, but before BSE scares, the slaughter of “downer” cattle (animals that are too sick to stand) was permitted in North American abattoirs.

Halal is one of the fastest growing industries in North America. The U.S. market is estimated at $12 billion a year; Agri-Food Canada estimates the domestic halal meat market at $214 million. It’s nearly impossible to go anywhere in Toronto without encountering halal, whether it’s the hot dog vendor at the corner of McCaul and College, the boxed pizzas and chicken nuggets in the deep-freezers at grocery stores or the organic beef jerky sold at the Big Carrot.

In the 1970s and 1980s, it was a different story. An observant Muslim family had to trek across town to buy their meat from a halal butcher shop or drive a few hours to a farm where they could slaughter their own animal. Since many of the rituals and rules are the same, halal is often considered an acceptable alternative to kosher and vice versa. So those who couldn’t get to a halal butcher shop might ask to borrow a knife from a shochet, a kosher ritual slaughterer, and perform the deed themselves (back then you could still buy live birds in Kensington Market), or they might simply choose to eat kosher instead.

A few years after Alwan emigrated to Canada from Syria in 1988, he began his own search for halal meat. He also wanted it to be local and organic. “The Koran tells us to eat halal and eat pure,” he says. Along with a small but growing number of “eco-halal” believers, he takes this directive to mean that animals should be raised naturally and fed what Allah intends them to eat—grass, not corn, for beef cattle. He found nothing, so he and a group of families from his mosque got together to do it themselves, investing in a steer and sharing the meat once it was slaughtered. Soon, he was driving out to St. Jacobs to buy better quality yogurt, eggs and Middle Eastern–style cheeses to feed his family.



In the 1990s, Toronto’s Muslim population doubled (Statistics Canada predicts it will increase 75 per cent within the next decade), and soon halal butcher shops were springing up to serve it. With about 350,000 Muslims living in the GTA, we have the highest concentration in Canada.

Alwan, who has a background in sales and marketing, formally launched Blossom Pure in 2002. Since then, it has grown about 50 per cent each year. He now sources his meat from a number of local small-scale farm ers. He also employs a full-time slaughterman to travel to nearby processing plants to perform zabihah. (To minimize the animals’ stress, he puts the burden of travel on his slaughterman.) Customers come from all over: Richmond Hill, Ancaster, even Ottawa. Though he cannot yet export to the U.S. (the slaughter houses he uses are only provincially licensed), he regularly fields calls from interested Americans.


BlossomPure Grass-Fed Beef


Tapping into the new secular market—more than half his customers are non- Muslim—this fall, Alwan started advertising in English the fact that his meat was halal. Like Jewish entrepreneurs before him, who chose the Orthodox Union symbol (a U inside a circle) so as not to discourage any anti-Semitic consumers, Alwan perhaps had more to lose than gain.

The reputation for quality that is catapulting halal into mainstream diets may lead to its undoing. Large meat-packing plants and grocery chains are getting in on the act. (Maple Leaf Foods already has three halal poultry plants.) At a large scale of production, controversies swirl: is it all right to play a pre-recorded prayer as the chickens whisk by on conveyors? Is machine slaughtering acceptable? Does stunning the animal adhere to zabihah? Such “innovations” dilute the putative virtues of halal, making it more and more like the conventional meats we buy at the grocery store, especially since there are no laws in Ontario (as there are, for example, in Illi nois) governing what can and cannot be labelled halal.

Further industrialization would be a shame. We live in an era when consumers of all stripes are concerned about where their food comes from and how it’s produced. Like kosher and organic, the appeal of halal—at least for someone like me, a resolute non-believer when it comes to any sort of dietary restriction— is that the word gives me some clue as to how my meal got to my table.

Originally published in Toronto Life Magazine

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