BBC Countryfile Magazine
THE CONSIDERED CARNIVORE
Want to keep eating meat but do it sustainably and ethically, with nature in mind? We ask Abby Allen (left) and Rachel Lovell, authors of the new Pipers Farm cookbook, how to do it
What is ‘nose-to-tail’ eating and why is it important?
In short, it is eating as much of the animal as possible and it’s important for a few reasons. Firstly, not wasting any part of the carcass respects the animal, the farmer and the resources, such as water and land that produced it. It also makes sense in the kitchen – slowly grown meat has more flavour than industrialised, intensively reared animals. Every part has plenty of flavour.
How can we make sure that the meat we buy is sustainable?
Farmers who grow food in harmony with nature nurture biodiversity. Crucially, what we feed our livestock can have a big impact on nature; that’s why 100% pasture-fed livestock is a keystone of our approach. But you will only know farmers are doing these things if you ask them questions. Buying direct is the best way, at the farm gate, at a farmers’ market or through a box scheme. Or through us, of course! Don’t be afraid to ask questions; any farmer worth their salt will happily answer them.
How much meat do you typically eat in a week?
Abby: The amount of meat I eat varies as the seasons change. I often eat more meat in the colder months as I find my body requires extra protein, fat and all those important nutrients you only find in pasture-fed meat. Through late spring and summer, when there is a glut of veg, I will consume less meat and instead use meat as a seasoning rather than the centrepiece of a meal.
Rachel: I also follow a seasonal pattern. We believe in a concept we call ‘cooking flow’, where you connect your dishes across the days to minimise meat consumption by eking out every last bit of flavour. Say you cook some sausages – the fat that renders out of them can be used to sauté onions for your veggie tacos the next day, meaning the precious fat isn’t wasted.
Are there any cuts of meat you think should make a kitchen comeback?
Slower cooking cuts have fallen out of favour, in part due to our own pressure on time. We have also lost knowledge of how to prepare this type of ingredient; many people don’t know how to turn a pig’s cheek or oxtail into a nourishing meal, though it is really straightforward. We’d also like to see healthy animal fats, such as dripping and lard, return to the kitchen in place of highly processed oils; they are better for human health and help farmers see more value for the meat they have produced.
What do you think is the future for small-scale farming in the UK?
Finally the tide is turning – policy makers are beginning to recognise how small-scale farmers can be the best custodians of our countryside and homegrown food, because they know what grows well on their land. There are also amazing developments in tech, as agriculture undergoes the digital revolution. It is a hugely exciting time in British agriculture right now, and there is so much to be hopeful for! Just be mindful of who you spend your food money with. Who are you giving power to? A family farmer or a global giant? Every little bit counts.