DEVELOPMENT | Not So Meat Free; British Farming and Free Range


So we at The Conscience Collective, try to keep our food related posts to Meat Free Monday, which we also try to keep as healthy as possible. If that is what you're expecting from this post, then expect to be disappointed, big time. AVERT EYES IMMEDIATELY!!! MEAT LOVER COMING THROUGH!

This weekend we spent our Sunday on our friend Pete's boat [Emma, Pete still thinks you're a bossy boots, ha], enjoying good British Ales and Wines, but most importantly relishing in the delicious British reared meat. Juicy Burgers with freshly dug out potatoes from Pete's allotment started off our orgasmic British adventure, as we salivated with each mouthful. As the juices slid down our arms, more satisfaction appeared on our faces. Yet, this was only the beginning.

Kate & Al's sausages, which I cooked on the hob slowly for an hour. Finished with some mushrooms and fresh chives
As part of the meat feast, our friends Kate & Al (and little William) brought with them some sausages. Not just any sausages, magical ones, reared by Al & Kate, and assembled by Kate herself. She relayed that they bred the pigs from piglets to full size pigs ready to be taken to the butchers. Her friend had once asked "How can you eat pigs you've reared yourself?" Kate gave me a knowing look and said "Its because I reared them that I can eat them. I know that they have eaten  what we grow, and that they've had a good life on the farm." She then mentions traceability--a term that we, at The Conscience Collective are all too familiar with--which got me thinking. Why is it that I have not heard much about free-range pigs, like Kate & Al's. I'm all too familiar with the Beef Movement, but if you ask anyone, Pork is my meat of choice, yet I have never investigated its origins.

As I delved into the traceability of pigs, I found out that Kate's pigs are one of the 1-2% of pigs that are free range and outdoor bred and reared. Imagine: 4.3 million pigs were farmed in the UK in 2011 and only 1-2% of them were completely free range. What the **** [hell]! They get to roam in the great outdoors, away from the stigma of confined sties, of which the sow stalls1 have been banned altogether in the UK since 1999. 


So, this begs us to ask what happens to the other 98-99%???? How are they treated, and where are they really coming from? According to Pig Business, 70% of port in the UK is actually imported from countries where welfare. Worse yet, is that UK legislation does not require that meat is labelled with the country of origin. This and more can make any meat lover a bit disheartened by it all, as more is revealed here. However, there are various food standards that help to safeguard us meat heads when it comes to selecting the best products. With labels like the Red Tractor Assured Food Standards, Soil Association Organic Standards and RSPCA Monitored Freedom Food, we can garner a better sense of security as to where our piggies come from and how they have been treated.

All this talk has now made me extra hungry for pork, so I think it is time to stop. Hopefully this post and my links have encouraged those meat eaters to look for these labels, and continue to join in the discussions on better treatment of livestock for consumption.

To learn more about History of Free Range and the Pig Industry see article here.

1. Sow Stalls are metal sties why confine sows so that they cannot turn around.

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