Lifestyle

Once an analyst, now co-owner of Toronto's Healthy Butcher

Unhappy with her job and worried about contaminated beef, Tara Longo decided to open an organic meat shop.


 


 

I graduated from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the Western University. Pretty much everyone in that program wanted to be an investment banker, so I did, too. My first job out of school was as an analyst at RBC, and I realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t for me. They always say to look at the people above you to see if you want to do what they’re doing—looking at the people ahead of me, I had no interest in being them.

My husband was a lawyer, and we were both unhappy with what we were doing. Around the same time, I read an article about a girl who had contracted E. coli from eating a hamburger. It took you through the process of a slaughterhouse, and of course I had absolutely no idea where food came from or how things were processed. I decided I would only eat organic meat or become vegetarian. We couldn’t find a good source for organic meat in the city, so we stopped eating meat. We were vegetarian for about a year and a half. So, the Healthy Butcher really came out of a personal need.

When we opened the Queen Street store, I remember getting the first 700-pound beef in the door and thinking, “Oh my god, it will take us three months to sell this.” It was gone in two days. Now we have three stores, and we just launched a site called realfoodtoronto.com where you can order our meats online. People come to our shops from as far away as Maple, Vaughan and Mississauga because they can’t find reliable sources for organic meat. This is our way of going to them.

—as told to Nancy Won

(Photograph: Raina + Wilson)