Why big busi­ness means you can’t eat this beau­ti­ful or­ganic meat

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Feature -

It’s in­cred­i­bly frus­trat­ing... it’s pretty heart­break­ing...

Who wouldn’t want to be pop­ping a steak from one of these beau­ties on the bar­bie? Sadly, un­less the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion changes, the ex­cep­tional meat from all those happy, or­gan­i­cally-raised sheep and cat­tle won’t be ar­riv­ing in a shop near you any time soon. Bev and David were cer­ti­fied or­ganic for years when they owned a butch­ery in Wark­worth, just north of Auck­land, but let the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion lapse once they sold the shop and stopped sell­ing meat.

They didn’t in­tend to stop, but they, along with a num­ber of other smallto-medium-sized farms, now don’t have ac­cess to an abat­toir that will kill and process their stock as small op­er­a­tors are go­ing out of busi­ness.

“It’s in­cred­i­bly frus­trat­ing,” says Bev. “You some­times won­der why you do all of this when you can’t ac­tu­ally get your prod­uct to mar­ket. The big busi­nesses own ev­ery­thing and are re­ally not in­ter­ested in al­low­ing smaller op­er­a­tions to get es­tab­lished.”

It’s a prob­lem that’s well-known by other lo­cal op­er­a­tors too, who are all in the same boat since the sale of Oxville Farm’s pri­vate abat­toir at Hiku­rangi in North­land.

Phil and Annie Arm­strong of Whangaripo Buf­fa­los have de­cided to have a go at set­ting up a mo­bile abat­toir. They have buf­falo sit­ting in their pad­docks that should have been in a freezer by now, or feed­ing the happy buf­falo-burger fans at Matakana Farm­ers’ Mar­kets.

“It’s pretty heart­break­ing when you’ve got all this beau­ti­ful beef and no way of get­ting it on to peo­ple’s plates,” says Phil.

Bev has re­luc­tantly (but hope­fully tem­po­rar­ily) put a hold on her dream of sell­ing Muri­wai Val­ley Farm or­ganic meat to the gen­eral pub­lic.

“It’s not pos­si­ble just now, and farm­ing is hard enough as it is,” she ac­knowl­edges with a wry grin. “You have to de­cide where you’re go­ing to put your en­ergy, and mine’s cur­rently gone back into breed­ing and sell­ing the best stock I can.”

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