This month’s food news and finds

Devon Life - - Competition - COM­PILED BY: Cather­ine Courte­nay

We’ve all heard of crowd­fund­ing, but how about crowdbutching? Rob Cot­ton is one of a new breed of live­stock farm­ers who are tak­ing a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to sell­ing their pro­duce.

The idea be­hind crowdbutching is that cus­tomers se­lect one of Rob’s cows on­line through the Buy­a­cow web­site, and com­mit to buy­ing a share (roughly 3%).

When enough peo­ple have in­vested the an­i­mal is trans­ported to an ar­ti­san butcher where the meat is ma­tured for three weeks be­fore in­di­vid­ual cuts are de­liv­ered di­rect to each cus­tomer.

Rob has a 1,800 acre farm at Mam­head and farm­ing has been in his fam­ily for gen­er­a­tions. To­gether with his brother Matt he is re­spon­si­ble for about 450 cat­tle and 1,000 sheep.

Rob says: “Only when the en­tire cow has been bought does it go to the butcher. So, un­like the super­mar­kets and tra­di­tional butch­ers, there’s no un­wanted beef to dis­pose of.

“What’s more, the en­tire cow is used. Ev­ery­thing is sold, from nose to tail. Even the hide and bones are re­pur­posed, and it’s a gen­uinely sus­tain­able way to buy meat.”

He adds: “I part­nered with Buy­a­cow be­cause I wanted to find a way of con­nect­ing what we’re do­ing more di­rectly to the con­sumer – with­out the need for a mid­dle man.

“Buy­a­cow of­fer a unique ser­vice that brings lots of strangers to­gether to buy a sin­gle cow. This process gives peo­ple a greater un­der­stand­ing of ex­actly where each an­i­mal was reared and what kind of life it had. It’s just a great way of pur­chas­ing high-qual­ity meat.

“Our cows are pas­ture-based, so they stay out on the grass for as long as pos­si­ble. I think that’s the most sus­tain­able way of farm­ing beef. The cows en­joy plenty of fresh air and sun­shine, as na­ture in­tended, with no stress on the an­i­mal.”

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