The ethical roast

Free-range cattle on Greenhill farm.

WORDS Susannah Hardy.

The best meals start with good farming practices and these days more and more people are concerned about where their meat comes from and how it’s produced. In fact, over the past 10 years, the meat-loving public has gained greater awareness of varying meat-farming practices and is now opting for ethically produced meat from grassfed, humanely treated animals. Meat that is better for our health, the welfare of the animal and has much more flavour.

Growing up on a farm in Barraba, North West NSW, Ben Clinch of The Free Range Butcher always knew the source of his food. ‘We had a veggie garden and we slaughtered our own meat, so for me I always knew where my produce was coming from,’ he says. Even later when living in Sydney, Clinch would return to his parent’s farm and pick up a body of meat to split with other families. Finally one night, when he and his wife Alison were eating steak in an expensive Sydney restaurant they realised they had better meat at home. ‘That’s where it all started,’ says Clinch. The family now produces grass-fed beef, lamb and free-range pasture-fed pork, with no chemicals, antibiotics or hormones, to sell through farmers markets. They also source from four or five nearby farms—all with a similar approach to meat growing. ‘For us it’s about being a sustainable business and being honest with our customers in what we’re doing,’ says Clinch.

Husband and wife, Greg Oliver and Sue Armstrong, who run Greenhill Farm near Bungendore NSW, didn’t like the way animals in the feedlot were treated, vaccinated and fed grain so decided to raise their own cattle. They now produce certified organic beef on their biodynamic farm, to sell direct to the public through farmers markets. The couple feel strongly about 100 per cent grass-fed cattle, and feel grain-fed meat is good for neither animal nor consumer. ‘Cattle aren’t meant to digest grain,’ says Armstrong. ‘It also changes the beef fat—the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3—so it’s not good for us.’ For Armstrong, everything comes into play when producing ethical meat from the welfare of the animal to the quality of the soil.

Sophie and Nathan Wakefield began producing ethical meat when a sea change took them and their three children from outback NSW to the Fleurieu Coast in SA, an hour south of Adelaide. ‘My husband is a butcher by trade and the property had an on-farm butchery facility,’ says Wakefield. The couple established Wakefield Grange, producing grass-fed beef and pork and selling direct to the public through a singular farmers market. This expanded to supplying restaurants and opening their own shop in nearby Yankalilla.

One of the biggest challenges for Wakefield is teaching people about ethical meat production and consumption, ‘Our challenge is definitely educating our customers, teaching them to cook with secondary cuts, teaching them that offal is not for the dogs, but a huge health benefit—it gives spag bol a huge lift, nutritionally and flavour wise that no one needs to know,’ says Sophie. ‘It’s definitely getting everyone to eat nose to tail.’

So with all these choices and experience, what do these farmers recommend  as the best cuts of meat for a winter roast? Grab a copy of the Winter 2017 issue of Sprout Magazine to find out.

Click here for delicious roast recipes.

 

 

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