Heritage breeds produce superior-tasting meat, and according to one awardwinning butcher, the more we buy them, the more farmers will rear them
In praise of heritage meats
‘WE CALL THEM heritage breeds rather than rare breeds, otherwise people think we are killing off an endangered species,’ says Andy Cavanna of Farmison & Co, the meat-delivery company based in Yorkshire that was crowned online business of the year by the Farm Shop and Deli Awards, and has a cupboard full of Great Taste Awards.
Heritage, then, is what they prefer to call the pedigree breeds of cattle, sheep and pig that are native to Britain and that they source for their steaks, roasting joints and multi-meat boxes: the ancient and hardy, ruffle-coated Galloway, which produces flavoursome beef that’s naturally low in fat; placid Large Blacks, one of the country’s oldest pig breeds; and Shetland and Suffolk sheep. Indeed many herds are so small that they remain on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust’s danger list. ‘Some can be quite difficult to find,’ says Cavanna. Customers can’t call up and cherry-pick a breed unless it’s available at the time, but the more they are in demand, the more farmers may be encouraged to rear them. Farmison works with four cattle farms in north Yorkshire, and is planning a breeding programme for one first-generation pig farmer, Rowan Simms, whose small quota of Large Blacks turned out to be one of the largest in the country.
As for the meat, it arrives fresh and tastes incredible: well-marbled and doorstop-thick pork rib-eye steaks on the bone; burgers enriched with bone marrow. Even the chicken, grass-fed and reared slowly, produces juicy meat to linger over. farmison.com