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Alberta Beef: Cowboy Country’s Most Famous Food

by WAHEEDA HARRIS

Alberta beef: the food, the legend (Photo: Tourism Calgary)

Alberta may mean cowboys and mountains to many, but for carnivores it’s the centre of all things meat. As a popular bumpersticker says, “If it ain’t Alberta, it ain’t beef.”

Cattle ranching took hold in Alberta in the 1870s thanks to plentiful streams, abundant native grasses, natural shelters and the warm Chinook winds, which reduced snow accumulation. The federal government, seeing interest from British and Canadian investors, encouraged ranching by allowing the leasing of up to 100,000 acres for 21 years for 1¢ per year.

Currently more than 53 per cent of Alberta producers are focused on raising beef cattle and the province is home to 5.5 million head of cattle. More than three quarters of all beef cattle raised in Canada are processed in Alberta.

Alberta beef is proudly served in almost every restaurant in this province—though you can find it on menus throughout Canada—and chef Aurelio Gualtieri of the Canadian Sport Centre, a training centre for Olympic and Paralympic athletes, makes sure it’s a mainstay of his menu. For those not in training, a visit to Calgary’s Charcut Roast House will satiate beef cravings: popular offerings include charbroiled rib-eye steak or burger Charcut-style hot off the wood-fired grill under the watchful eye of chef Connie DeSousa. To try Alberta grass-finished (i.e. exclusively grass-fed) beef, try a restaurant that serves beef from a local ranch like Hoven Farms.

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