Buy From the Source and Avoid Another Scandal

The horsemeat scandal, why was it such a huge scandal? Most of Europe and a lot of Africa have been eating horsemeat for decades. It was so big because of the back handing, scheming and the distrust of replacing the labelled beef with the horsemeat.

In fact I truly don’t have a massive issue with eating horsemeat I would say honestly you’re a hypocrite if you have an issue with free happy horsemeat but then go ahead and have caged eggs accompanied with caged pigs for breakfast!

I’m not suggesting we should all go ahead and start eating anything that has four legs but if you have an issue with the horsemeat itself you have to realise it’s probably just a culture thing. A Hindu or a Sikh would never dream of eating beef and the same would be said for Muslims and Jews with pork.

Anyway, cost of food is being blamed for the scandal and with so many massive companies involved like Nestle, Taco Bell and Burger King how can you be sure it won’t happen or hasn’t already happened in New Zealand. Well the short answer is you can’t but you can minimise your risk by being smart and what you will find is you will save money and be healthier and happier for it if you do it wisely.

In general I would love to live a life were I buy directly from farmers or farmers’ markets but even I say it is just not possible but what I certainly can do is make as much effort possible. Being a demo chef at Hobsonville Farmers market certainly helps and I get to meet people like Amanda at Farm Gate Produce Limited ( who sells directly to the public at Hobsonville, Oratia, Takapuna and Parnell markets her wonderfully happy free range pigs and also her aged beef. In fact you can see the pigs in her photo album. Another one I have spoken about in the past is Country Fresh Vegetables at Hobsonville market who on the weekend gets his veg in the morning and sells in the afternoon. You simply can’t get fresher. Oh and did I mention spray free!

One more thing I came across, and the inspiration for this article was Rannoch meats, I had heard of them before with them being semi-finalists at the 2012 NZ beef and lamb steak of origin competition and through various avenues when trying to find alternative and unique suppliers for work.

“Rannoch Meats in Greytown breeds Red Devon cattle and sells direct to the public. They farm kill to order and so the beef consumers get has not been man handled multiple times over multiple months. Consumers have the satisfaction of knowing the source and that the product is aged for three weeks and is better value too…..Not only can they know where their beef comes from but they can buy good quality aged beef cheaper than through the supermarket or butcher.”

They produce beef following two key principles, animals MUST live in a stress free, grass fed environment and providing quality beef for consumers in not just New Zealand but Worldwide.

You don’t even have to leave your house, you can order online and you have an option of buying in bulk either, a ¼, ½ or whole carcass. There are the 10kg BBQ packs or you can even buy individual cuts which are just like buying from your butcher except it’s delivered!

For more information jump onto their website to see some beautiful pics and read more.

So again why buy from the supermarkets there is no connection between the animal and the meat, you don’t know where or when the animal was killed or how it was killed, was it treated well or shoved into a van and off you go. Just because you go to your supermarket or eccentric butcher franchise and buy the meat with a sticker on saying best beef in New Zealand basically means nothing, however go to your local butcher, farmers market or buy directly from producers and you can speak to them about the passion they have for animals and they should know everything about how the animal got from the farm to potentially your plate.

You of course can get your fresh veggies and fruit delivered as well which will be fresher and straight to your door and not a couple of weeks out of the ground before it even reaches the shelf.

Professionally I am very passionate about producer to plate. At Coco’s Cantina we only use free range products whether it’s in meatballs or the pork belly and even the fish at the moment I am researching how to get the most sustainable fish caught in the most humane way, line caught is a dream but due to its rarity it is so expensive and guest don’t want to pay $45 at the moment, however I do have the information on which boat caught my fish, where it fishes and what method they use.

I feel we are very lucky in NZ in that we are so small it’s easier to keep an eye on things as opposed to back home in the UK where there are so many different cultures and companies with their fingers in many pies. A recent survey in the UK showed consumer trust had fallen over 20% since the horse scandal. I look at this and think maybe it’s a good thing maybe this is the kick up the rump we’ve needed to finally start looking in our shopping trolleys and thinking how many people, processes and locations has this product been through before I buy it. Even something like Ribena for example, the berries are “100% NZ”, which are then sent overseas to come back to be packaged as Ribena to be given to supermarkets. Really!

I want to leave this with the opening paragraph from on the 2nd of February 2013, I don’t ever use other peoples work but felt this was a great way to finalise my point of buying direct.

“Government officials cannot say if meat products contaminated in a European horsemeat scandal have slipped through to Kiwi supermarket shelves”

Just think about it! Buy local, buy fresh!