I have been over to Somerset today to pick up our butchered half pig that has become something of an annual ritual with our good pals. We buy a whole pig, organic Gloucestershire Old Spot, and it's reared, free range on a farm, then 9 months later we return to pick up our cuts. Whilst this is an expense up front, we have found that, long term, this is a good saving. It also means the kids know exactly where our food has come from (as do we, of course). We know where our eggs come from, our honey, our cider, much of our veg, our lamb (I'll get there in a moment) and our pork. It hasn't been sitting on the shelf for weeks and the cuts are the ones that we'll eat, so nothing is lost.
There is always the question about the value/footprint of travelling to Somerset to pick up our pig each year (around 180 miles round trip), but if you've never eaten a breed of pig such as GOS or Oxfordshire Sandy and Black you'll not appreciate that it's worth the trek. I think if I counterbalanced it with trips I might make more frequently to pick up a good joint from the Supermarket or our local farm shop, it could balance out over the course of the year. Then there is also the distance from farm to abattoir to butcher, literally across the road in our case, against the long distances that supermarket meat may have to travel to do the same journey from farm to plate. I think I can rest relatively easy that, at the very least, it breaks even!!
Our lamb is just about as local as we can possibly get it. It comes from our plumber!! Yes, that's right, our plumber moonlights as a farmer, or, perhaps he moonlights as a plumber as I feel that being a farmer is probably a fairly full time job. He breeds lambs and each New Year we take a whole lamb off his hands. Again, beautiful meat and this time within a radius of around 5-6 miles!
We're not huge meat eaters. I know, with half a pig and a lamb in the freezer that probably sounds an oxymoron, but our weekly menu probably includes at least three days of meatless/vegetarian foods. We do, however, love a roast on a Sunday, traditional...us?
Thus most of our meat is in the form of various joints we can roast. We also enjoy sausages and I can specify their filling and whether or not they're to contain gluten and last year I made my own smoked bacon. Although it came with steep learning curves, primarily that of cutting it before freezing it, the lardons that I ended up with made the most beautiful pasta dishes and quiches. I won't be making bacon this year, but that's purely because most of our house is in chaos at the moment with the build and I have no where to spread out or store things, not to mention where my highly adaptable brining container, aka my cool box, has gone!
Obviously a trip to Somerset isn't complete without lunch with the bestie and then a small wander around Glastonbury to nourish the inner hippy (ok, the outer one too!) before heading home.