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Last week I spoke 'In Defence of Red Meat' for the All Party Parliamentary Group on UK farming. I was there to speak up for doing things properly in the food supply chain to the panel of cross bench MPs. In the UK, our red meat production is already something to be proud of, but as with everything, there's always room for improvement.
British red meat has a great historic story to tell, a story that often gets lost when our British farming standards get portrayed as the same as other global farming standards. On home soil, our British farmers have some of the highest welfare standards across the globe and aim to farm as climate friendly as possible.
A fundamental part of the red meat story is the bloodlines of our native breeds. In Britain, we have 34 native cattle breeds, of which 14 are considered rare. These breeds make for some of the finest beef in the world, yet have faced the threat of extinction when faster, cheaper red meat became more readily available in the twentieth century.
The bloodlines of these breeds come from a bygone era. A time before industrial agriculture became the mainstream. Saving these bloodlines is crucial if we want to supply better quality meat to the nation as well as saving British heritage and becoming more sustainable.
Out native breeds are here for a reason, their traits make them well suited to the British landscape and environment, the local terroir. Reared under traditional farming methods, they can thrive peacefully at their own pace. Always free range, always grass-fed.
Like with most things, beef tastes better when it's slowly grown but when intensive farms can produce quicker cheaper meat, it's hard to keep up. The problem with intensive methods is that herds are reared for rapid and unstable production, often cutting corners on animal welfare and sustainability, not considering native bloodlines.
We are what we eat, eats. Herds that have been able to graze nutritious pastures, can produce naturally nutritionally dense meat. Beef is a superfood, packed with iron, zinc, B vitamins, proteins, essential amino acids, and beef tallow (a naturally occurring healthy fat), it plays a huge part in a balanced diet. Red meat doesn't always have to be the centrepiece, a small serving of good quality red meat teamed up with vegetables unlocks another level of goodness, unreachable from eating vegetables alone.
At Farmison & Co we are building a new, better supply chain by working with local farmers who farm in a modern traditional way to slow down the field to fork process.
In the UK we are blessed with a perfect meat producing climate with land that is ideal for growing grass for animals to graze. Grazing livestock plays a key role when it comes to the preservation and improvement of wildlife habitats, as well as soil health. Over-grazing can have negative impacts, and this is where regenerative farming comes in, to rebuild the natural organic matter in soil and restore plant and insect diversity by mimicking natural grazing patterns. Healthy soil makes for a healthy animal, the plants get what they need to thrive, and carbon is taken out of the atmosphere and locked in the soil.
The bigger picture here is that these native breeds, when reared traditionally on our home soil are the key to a sustainable and environmentally friendly future for red meat.
Currently, there is little supportive journalism surrounding such an important topic. Quality, British, red meat, when consumed as part of a balanced diet has more health benefits than any avocado or tofu that has travelled miles before it reaches your plate.
We promote consuming red meat with a conscience. That means choosing to buy and eat sustainable, ethically raised red meat, as part of a balanced diet. Shop our better beef here.