Latest news from Big Barn and our producers.
Meat is a controversial subject covered in many of our blogs over the last 12 years. Instead of including this information again please click on the links within this page for more. And vegans? Please note that to feed the world we need meat to graze the one third of the world’s agricultural land that cannot grow crops (Meat Guilt blog here)
We believe that meat producers, game dealers and butchers are a huge asset for your sustainable, healthy, community. A community where local producers supply local people, shops, pubs and restaurants direct with meat produced to high welfare and environmental standards.
By selling direct or through a local butcher farmers get a better price by cutting out middle men and you get better, often cheaper and plastic free, meat. And better food security.
On our Local Food Map we have a wide variety of meat producers, from organic, or diverse, mixed farms regenerating soils with high animal welfare standards, to more intensive modern farms from whom the meat may be cheaper, but usually at the cost of standards, (but much higher welfare than foreign factory farmed meat). Many sell their own produce locally and some online.
We also have around 900 traditional family butchers shops and some butchers within farm shops.
One thing, we hope they all have in common is a mission to provide the full story behind the meat sold, to help you make the right choice, as well as help build their sustainable food community with you as a valuable regular customer.
Valuable, not just through your food spend, but also from your positive feedback and buy-in to your community, instead of the profit focused supermarket.
Meat producers and butchers have experienced a resurgence in demand as more people recognised the high price of supermarket meat, the large quantity of foreign imports and dreadful animal welfare standards abroad. And even dodgy labelling such as horse meat in ready meals, 2010 blog here and foreign meat getting a Union Jack label because someone had sprinkled pepper on the meat when repacked in the UK.
So what does the perfect meat producer/butcher look like (in my humble opinion)? And this is where I perhaps upset a few butchers who claim that people don’t want to know or buy on price and can’t afford organic or free range.
First of all meat outlets should be customer focused and provide advice and cooking tips, completely differentiating themselves from the supermarkets. If it is based around a farm many products can be cheaper than the supermarket and plastic free because the supply chain is shorter. Or help customers save money by advising on cheaper cuts.
Prices can be kept low by inviting local consumers and schools to Crop for the Shop with really fresh and perhaps unusual fruit & veg. Many butchers have a special section of local produce and could add to it with customer’s contributions in return for a credit note to spend on meat. Potentially prices can be set 20% less than the supermarket and still give the shop and grower a good return.
Unlike disgraceful supermarkets, (blog here) The perfect butcher should make every effort to label where everything comes from including, ideally, local farmers names and pictures. And even have the local farmers drop into the shop occasionally to answer questions and talk to customers about their produce.
If possible the meat producer/butcher could have cookery demonstrations or classes, such as sausage making or curing, to help locals move away from take-aways and expensive, salty ready meals, to fresh home made food from inexpensive local ingredients, and why we set up our Cook-Share initiative please check it out and join in.
We would love to see every meat producer/butcher linked to and supplying the local school where the kids grow food for the school kitchen and even the butcher. Imagine kids insisting parents buy from the local butcher! Farmers could supply the school with chickens or offer farm visits or zoom chats for children to learn about sustainable meat production and animal welfare. More here.
Please help your local meat producer/butcher become ‘perfect’. Most meat producers and butchers suffer from a Catch 22 situation, not enough customers for it to grow into the perfect shop above.
Also please tell your friends, if we all change our habits, to buying from our local food shops, we can build a more sustainable, healthier LOCAL food industry And by involving our schools, increase our food security and build more sustainable, healthier, caring food communities.
If your local meat producer/butcher is not on our map please email us here and we will add you to our monthly prize draw to win one of 4 £25 MarketPlace gift vouchers.