meat, veg, milk + siblings

Riverford is a family business. All five of the second generation are working on the farm, with our father and founder acting as our environmental auditor. Watson sibling relations are better than most but we are all stubbornly independent, particularly me (veg) and my two brothers: Oliver (dairy with his partners) and Ben (meat, shops, preserves etc). To keep the peace we operate as overlapping but separate businesses; hence the different logos and probably slightly confusing communications.

Ben started butchering and curing my father's pigs in our garage in 1983. Over 27 years this has developed into three farm shops in Devon, a commercial kitchen making preserves, pies etc and eventually the meatboxes, which we deliver alongside the vegboxes. Ben is as obsessive about good meat and how it is produced as I am about vegetables. He will continue to be the inspiration behind our meat offer but we (the veg crew) are better at putting things in boxes and the logistics of delivery, so this summer we took on the running of the meatbox business.

I hope this development will not put off the vegetarians amongst you. Grass clover leys and the livestock that graze them are vital to building soil fertility between vegetable crops. To support farmers throughout the rotation it makes sense to sell the resulting meat and dairy products. Through our long relationships with these farmers we know where our livestock comes from, the breeds, how it was raised, how it was killed and hung. It is butchered and packed by hand by a dedicated team of skilled butchers who share in the profits.

Most of us eat more meat than is good for us and the planet. We will continue to celebrate the culinary possibilities of vegetables and to challenge the assumption that meat should be the centrepiece of a meal. Last week this approach won our Riverford Field Kitchen the Observer Best Ethical Restaurant award for the second year running; well done to Jane, Sam and their team. We would like to encourage the meat eaters amongst you to enjoy better meat, less often, in smaller quantities and with complete confidence that the animal has been treated respectfully.

You can make bespoke meat or fixed content meatbox orders (the boxes tend to be about 10% cheaper) at www.riverford.co.uk. To find out more about the farmers that supply us, see Ben's website www.riverfordmeatbox.co.uk.

Guy Watson