In October 2012 there was a BBC news report stating that research shows that a large number of people prefer to buy meat in a supermarket because they are intimidated by butchers. Today, the headline news is that Tesco, amongst others, has been selling selling beef burgers with approximately 29% horsemeat and also 21 other beef meal products including cottage pie, beef curry pie and lasagne which contained pork. Tesco claim that they did not know that their food producers were putting horse meat and pork in their beef products and have tried to assure the public that these products are not harmful to consumers. But heck, if they did not know what was going in their products, how do they know what the quality was and that they really did not, or would not, cause any illnesses. In addition, what if you have an allergy to pork or horsemeat and you eat Tesco beef burgers and beef ready meals, I dare to say that would be harmful to your health.
So I just feel the need to really encourage anyone who happens on this blog post, if you care about what you eat, please try out your local butcher or farmers market. Don’t be intimidated to go to your butcher just because you may not be familiar with all the different cuts of meat. A good butcher will help you decide what cut of meat is best for you and how to cook it. So if you want a steak but not sure what kind, tell him/her what you like in a steak i.e. you like to cook it well done or rare, you like a bit of fat or no fat. If you want to make a stew or roast, a good butcher can suggest a good cut. If you just see a piece of meat that looks good, they will be more than happy to suggest ways to cook it.
Many butchers will be able to tell you where they source their meat from and usually make their own mincemeat and burgers. Ask them if they make it themselves, most do.
As I get around Wales, I go to several butchers. In Cardiff, I love Martin Player High Class Butchers located on 10 Park Road Whitchurch Cardiff CF14 7BQ 02920 6094. Martin Player sources his Welsh beef locally as possible from farms in Carmarthenshire or the Vale of Glamorgan. All of their producers adhere to strict working practises and animal welfare. They sell less expensive cuts like ox cheek (one of my faves for stews) up to the more expensive fillet. They make their own sausages and burgers which are award winning. Martin and his staff are happy to help you decide what to buy and give cooking suggestions.
Same goes for my favourite butcher in Brecon, Morgans Family Butchers, 102 The Struet, Brecon, Powys, LD3 7LT. DH and I make a pilgrimage to Brecon to stock out freezer with beef at least once per quarter. Steve Morgan’s family raise Welsh Black Beef, and Welsh lamb and I must say his beef is superb! Their beef, lamb and home-made sausages have won many awards at the Royal Welsh Show and Steve proudly displays his ribbons in his shop.
When near Raglan, I enjoy going to N.S. James Family Butchers, Crown Square, Raglan, NP15 2EB. Over 90% of the meat they supply has travelled less than ten miles to their premises. In addition, they have their own licenced slaughterhouse.
I also encourage you to check out your local farmers market. Cardiff has 2 fab markets one in Riverside, the other in Roath. I also frequent the markets in Usk and Brecon. If you live in Wales, go to http://www.fmiw.co.uk/ to find a farmers market near you. The stall holders at farmers markets we frequent, take pride in the quality of their produce and food products. So many people think that butchers and farmers markets cost more than a supermarket. Some things are, many things aren’t; I encourage you to investigate for yourself.
To Tesco, I say shame on you! You say you did not know that so many of your beef products contained horsemeat or pork. It’s unbelievable that a major organisation like you does not have sufficient quality control and systems to protect your customers. There is no excuse for this lack of quality control other than the mighty £££ was more important to you than your customers. Millions of people have trusted you, I don’t think you deserve our trust any more. I think it’s time that we shopped more at our local butcher and farmers markets. They really care, not only, about what they grow, produce and sell but also about their local customers.