for those of you who eat meat
I am an omnivorous veg obsessive whose heart quickens at the sight of cabbages and chillies. However I have a pig-obsessed father, a butcher brother and two other cow-keeping siblings, so Riverford has always been a mixed if not predominantly livestock farm. Both here and on other farms like ours, animals have their place. It would be very difficult to grow vegetables and grains organically, avoiding synthetic fertiliser, without animal manures and a crop rotation involving nitrogen-fixing legumes that are then (most sensibly) eaten by ruminant livestock. Indeed, the farmers we work with in Uganda, where fertiliser is prohibitively expensive, regard the milk, eggs and meat from their livestock as a by-product of the urine and manure which feeds their compost and soil.
There’s no doubt that most of us eat more meat than is good for our health and the planet, but my mission this week (set by my fourth sibling, who does our marketing) is to persuade the fellow omnivores among you to buy what meat you do eat from us. My brother Ben (the butcher one) first started doing meat boxes 10 years ago. The meat comes from our co-op members and a handful of other local farms who we know well. It is pasture-reared to particularly high standards of animal welfare (as corroborated by our current RSPCA award), carefully slaughtered at a local abattoir and patiently hung, cut and packed by Mark Slade and his team of skilled butchers. The quality is wonderful and value good, but the sales are a little disappointing, possibly because traditional meat boxes have a reputation of requiring you to shell out for a large quantity at a time.
To make it easier to sample our meat in smaller amounts, and to provide your ‘meat and 10 veg’ for a week, we have now combined meat and veg boxes. The meat element comes in a small or a large size and has three components: a roast, plus mince and cuts like diced chicken or lamb chops for quick midweek suppers. Brother Ben provides some recipe ideas and help with cooking if you need it. He knows as much about meat as I do about veg, so you are in good hands.