Quality grading - Heritage Hierarchy of Foods

Quality grading - Heritage Hierarchy of Foods Quality grading - Heritage Hierarchy of Foods

Heritage Hierarchy of Foods

Food is a complicated subject and over the years people have become disconnected from the origins of their food. Some food companies use clever words and imagery to make you ‘assume’ that the food is produced in a way it is perhaps not. I have made it my mission in life to try and learn about all the pro’s and con’s to food production and to educate customers so they can make informed choices about what is important to them when spending their hard earned pennies.
I think of shopping like voting, if use your knowledge and shop wisely you can help animals live healthier happier lives whilst helping the environment and getting a really nutritious food. Buy food without proper thought and you could be supporting cheap imports from countries with low standards of animal welfare that use substances banned in the UK and they could be farming in a way that is very harmful to the environment; this food could also be damaging your health.
I would like to try and help you make informed choices and aim to give you options to ‘buy better’.
The products I represent on my site are graded Gold, Silver and Bronze. They are judged on the following principles. The key principles of each product will be highlighted on the Product description.

Criteria
• Freedom of movement and use of natural environment
• Access to natural food, sustainability of foodstuff, suitability of food for animals digestive and overall health
• Welfare standards and slaughter process
• Contribution to management of local environment overall sustainability of production method
• Quality of product
• Nutrient profile and health benefits of the product
• Trace-ability systems, nature of business, principles of producer

Vitality

Britain has very high standards of welfare and slaughter regulation compared with many countries that we import meat from. Our green and pleasant climate means that it is often commercially viable on the whole to rear animals on pasture in harmony with the seasons. This means that most of the ‘British meat’ we produce has had a reasonably natural lifestyle and will have been monitored and regulate in order to reduce the possibility of mistreatment during life and slaughter.
Supporting well managed British Farms helps maintain the quintessential British countryside that we love to enjoy. It helps maintain a mosaic of managed habitats that would otherwise all revert to scrub and woodland. Grazed land is easier to access on footpaths and bridleways so is easier to enjoy on foot.
The very best of these systems allow the animals to be either wild or humanely shot in their own environment (in the case of game) or very extensively reared. A free range system allows the animal to act in a natural way which will reduce disease, suffering and stress and eat in a way that suits the animal’s digestion nutritional requirements.
In the case of grains and vegetables, the very best products come from soils that have been nourished by good management and traditional fertilisers like farm yard manure and composts. The full spectrum of nutrients will be available to the plants that grow in nourished soil and therefore the animals that graze upon them; this improves the health and vitality of plant and animal and will reduce the need for intervention with chemicals or medicines.
Healthy soils will be around for future generations to grow their food from, unlike the dust bowl degraded soils of some intensive systems; they help reduce flooding and are rich in flora and fauna.

Sustainability

64% of the UK’s farmland is only suitable for growing grass, without grazing animals and wildlife we could not feed our growing population. Actively managed pastures act as a ‘carbon sink’ safely storing carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere.
The very best examples of sustainable food systems are those which manage land for nature and food production in balance. The careful management of our eco system allows us to better access natural water sources, herb rich pasture systems are deep rooted so are very drought resistant allowing food (meat animals) to grow even in times extreme climate variations.
Healthy soils will be here for future generations to grow their food from, reduce flooding and are rich in flora and fauna so maintaining biodiversity.
Exclusively pasture fed animals are at the top of the sustainable hierarchy. Feeding grain to animals is an inefficient way of handling food in times of food shortage. The solution to meeting the challenge of tomorrow’s food production would therefore seem to be right under our noses, or at least those of our cows and sheep. We use the ability of ruminant cattle and sheep to make the best potential use out of grassland and use good productive arable land to grow crops such as wheat, maize, Soya and pulses not as cattle feed with all of its associated inefficiencies, but for direct human consumption.
By a happy coincidence, there is an irrefutable body of research that proves animals fed on pasture and whose metabolism and production is matched to their natural capacity, are associated with lower stress, increased longevity and increased fertility. The produce, such as meat and milk, has proven advantages in terms of quality. Pasture-Fed also has impeccable environmental credentials and can often be found to have a positive carbon footprint.

Quality, Nutrition, Traceability

Quality is critical and we offer consistency in quality for all out products, this must not be confused with seasonal variations and availability, it is quite right that certain foods will only be available for parts of the year and meat may taste slightly different dependant on the growing season etc.
In the case of meat, maturation is very important on older animal carcasses, this enzyme process is allowed to happen in controlled temperatures and helps tenderise the tissue of the meat. The very best meat is ‘aged on the bone’ this further develops flavour and offers supreme eating quality, ideally for beef 21-28 and for Mutton 10 days. Certain meats do not need to dry ageing for example younger meats that are tender and succulent.
The diet of the animal affects the flavour and nutritional value of the meat, animals fed on grass and herbs will have a far superior nutritional profile.
Pasture-fed beef has an improved ratio of n-6 to n-3 fatty acids (ratio of 3 considered healthy) and contains a higher concentration of n-3 fatty acids. It contains more Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) than conventional beef (cancer-protecting) and has more antioxidants including Vitamin E, beta-carotene and flavonoids (health-promoting/cancer-fighting).
Milk from animals reared on pasture will have a superior nutritional content and taste different depending on what the animals are eating. In a comprehensive study the mineral content of fruits and vegetables grown in the 1930s compared to those grown in the 1980s were analysed. The study found that the levels of calcium, magnesium, copper and sodium were significantly reduced in vegetables and magnesium, iron, copper and potassium were significantly reduced in fruit. The magnesium content by 21%. Meat products showed an average of loss of 10% for magnesium and a 60% decrease in copper, while dairy foods showed a typical 25% decrease in magnesium and a 90% decline in copper. Many scientist attribute this to modern agricultural methods that deplete the soils, we have gone from a sustainable system of crop rotation and farm yard manure fertilisers to a more modern system. In many cases intensive farms plant the same crop year after year and add nitrogen and potassium and neglect the other nutrients. This system appears to produce high yields and there for address some of our growing food requirements however the system is not sustainable and in many cases produces less nutritious food.
In many meats, marbling is an important element of eating quality; marbling comes about from animals that are reared at a more natural pace allowing them to develop fully. Grass fed marbling will appear more yellow than white and due to the fat composition will disperse into more of a rich gravy full of flavour.
It is very important to ensure that we know where our food is coming from and that it is what is says it is. All our suppliers have comprehensive systems in place to track and document this information. I ensure that I only work with recommended and trusted sources with who I am in regular contact; this allows me to provide information and control quality. With all the products I will aim to bring you as much information as I can in order for you to see what is happening behind the closed farm gates.

Based in the heart of the Lake District

YEW TREE FARM, Coniston, Cumbria, LA21 8DP|Telephone: 015394 41433 | 07753 957150|Email: info@heritagemeats.co.uk