I count myself amount the lucky few to able to say that I work for a restaurant that sustainably sources its produce. A bonus of this sourcing is that last week the staff were given the unique opportunity to go and see where some of it comes from. Five chefs and I met at Liverpool Street and trundled out into the countryside at a ridiculously early hour taking in the sites of the Olympic village as we passed.
Our guides, mentors and general fountains of knowledge for the day were Howard and George; a father and son dream team whose base is Blackwell’s Farm produce some of the best pork, beef and lamb in the UK. Howard and George met us at the station and drove us to a farm where they rear their livestock; the Gloucester Old Spot pigs, cows and lambs. We couldn’t have picked a better day for it, the cows each one with a calf (and one very proud bull looking on) were grazing in the meadow, the pigs taking a long rest in the shady barns and the new-born lambs desperate to get our attention as we wandered by.
It was then on to an abattoir where I braced myself to see the reality of meat production. I’m not going to lie, I worked myself up into a bit of an internal nervous wreck (externally I looked cool as a cucumber – naturally). The whole process is very quick and humane. We saw hoggets and lambs ready for the last-minute Easter rush.
Our final stop was at Howard and George’s main base where they rear geese and Turkeys for the festive season. Huge barns, leading to field upon field for the birds to graze and run around in restored a lot of my confidence in British poultry farming. These birds really are well looked after. Here, as well, the butchery for their farm shelves takes place. The skills these people have are amazing, chops sausages, steaks, bacon, ribs and plenty more bits and bobs are being created by 5 people.
I felt very proud to be part of a restaurant that really know where a lot of the produce it uses comes from. The people who breed, rear, slaughter and butcher the animals are real. They are skilled and are committed to producing the best of the best. There is nothing nice about the words slaughter and butcher but in reality if you are going to eat meat, this is what happens, the meat industry in the UK is a big one, but if we can all look into where our leg’a’lamb comes from or that chicken breast we just wrapped in bacon, British farmers would finally become recognised for the time, effort and money that they pour into their trade.
I managed to spend some money in the farm shop – but not much – I bought my supper in the farm shop. The total came to ….. a whole £5.
See what I cooked in my next post…