Does that seem like a silly title? We live in a place where there’s endless green fields, so our meat and veg must be good quality, right? Not always the case.
I always made the assumption that buying my meat from a butcher meant that it was of the highest quality, fed on grass, in the great Scottish outdoors. And I knew I was supporting local businesses, which is a big tick in the box. It wasn’t until I dug a little deeper that I discovered there’s more to it than that.
Butchers will buy in cows, for example, from various farms in their area, which can make it difficult to pin point exactly which farm your meat is coming from. Many of them will have great processes in place to be able to tell you where every individual steak comes from. But what’s not always known is if the animal was fed on lush Scottish grass. In the spring and summer months, most are. But in winter many animals are brought indoors and fed grains or other man-made diets. Why is this a bad thing? Well, there are lots of reasons, which can read in The Paleo Mom’s post here, but overall it’s far more nutritious to eat an animal that’s raised entirely on the diet it should eat, they’re happier being outdoors and it’s better for the environment.
After learning that not only was butcher meat often not grass-fed, sometimes the animals aren’t free-range and many of them are routinely given anti-biotics or other drugs. Yes there is benefit to buying butcher meat over supermarket meat – it’s certainly local, and possibly has a better chance of living outdoors. But for me, the answer was to find organic and grass-fed meat, which you’d think would be easy here, but’s it’s not!
To my delight I came across Peelham Farm in Berwickshire that raises beef, lamb and pork, all organic and pasture fed – meaning that even their pigs are left to roam and forage for food, a real rarity these days. (Did you know that pigs aren’t vegetarian? I know! You’re welcome.) It is quite simply the best meat I have ever tasted. Their minced meats make the best burgers and the pork is to die for. Now, is it expensive? Yes it can be. Certainly more expensive than standard butchers. But I manage that by buying in bulk so I don’t pay for delivery, and I go for cheaper cuts of meat which benefit from long, slow cooking (love my slow cooker!) and are often more nutritious due to being on the bone and having sinew or cartilage attached. The more expensive cuts are only ever on our dinner table as a rare treat, but I find that all of their meat is so good that we never feel deprived!
Finding Scottish organic chicken that’s pasture fed has also been a challenge, enter Hugh Grierson Organics in Perthshire. It’s also pricier, as you’d imagine. So I buy wisely, always getting meat on the bone so I can make full use of the bones and bits! Turning these meats into stews and other similar dishes means the meat goes further. Their organic chicken is allowed to roam daily – and you guessed, they’re also not vegetarians! They eat bugs and insects and whatever else they can find which meets their nutritional needs (and therefore ours). And no nasty drugs either. Perfect.
These are my two sources for excellent quality meat, as local as I can get it. Berwickshire is a little further from us than I’d like, but it’s still Scottish and within about 100 miles.
Finding grass or pasture fed meat is really important, for the reasons The Paleo Mom and numerous other scientific experts talk about. So ask questions. You’re the customer, the one spending your hard-earned money. If they don’t want to answer, be suspicious! I find most are more than willing to be open about what they do, especially if they’re proud farmers. Many farms will cut their own fields in autumn and create silage to ensure their cattle are fed on grass all year round. It keeps them happy because they’re eating the food they’re designed to, means they can roam lush pastures in summer,makes them yummy and makes us healthier too! Everyone’s a winner 🙂 So get curious about what you’re eating and where it comes from. Use everything that you can from them, and never throw away leftovers. You owe it to yourself and to the lovely beasts you enjoy to respect them and use as much as you can of them. Go forth and shop!