The Truffler: Welsh lamb, buying organic, mangoes, herring

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Indy Lifestyle Online

As has been widely reported, some Welsh livestock farmers are better off, at least in the short term, having their herds culled than being faced with the difficulty of selling them while exports are banned.

As has been widely reported, some Welsh livestock farmers are better off, at least in the short term, having their herds culled than being faced with the difficulty of selling them while exports are banned. There are an estimated 1.5 million surplus lambs from Welsh hill farms. They're a smaller breed, of which almost half are usually exported to Europe rather than sold here. Enter Iceland, which has bought up some of the Welsh lamb surplus – £3m-worth – and from next weekend will be selling fresh rather than frozen, the smaller Welsh lamb leg joints for £3.99 for a minimum of 800g, through its 760 stores and home delivery service. This deal with the UK's largest independent slaughterer in Anglesey provides a market for beleaguered livestock farmers in Wales (who are getting better price for their lamb than two years ago, though less than last year's price), and a very good value joint. But lowland sheep farmers, whose fat lambs are traditionally preferred by supermarkets but are now fetching only £25 an animal instead of £40 last year, hope we won't stop buying their lamb, too.

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More and more farmers, especially organic ones, are doing it for themselves. When some lamb is being bought cheap from farmers but still not sold on to customers at bargain prices, it makes sense to go direct to the farmer wherever possible. Lower Hurst Farm near Buxton in Derbyshire has launched a website ( www.lowerhurst farm.co.uk) and brochure (from 01298 84900) to sell its organic beef direct. If you want to know precisely where your meat comes from, you won't find anywhere that gives you more specific information. Only 50 of the herd of Hereford cattle are slaughtered – at 24 months – a year at an abattoir close to the farm. They're hung for three weeks, butchered on the farm, packed and labelled with the ID, date of birth and of slaughter of each animal, then frozen. Order before 10am for next day delivery. Prices start at £8.40 a kilo for the mince, with braising steak at £10.50 a kilo, rib of beef £12.60 a kilo, and a steak and cider pie to feed six for £18.70.

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Britain's first ever "mango week" takes place 17-27 August. (Yes, it's a week that lasts for 10 days, but who's counting.) The organisers Minor, Weir and Willis, our largest importers of the fruit, are anxious to make the mango as popular among Brits as the banana. Known as the "king of fruits", it's one of the five staple foods in many hot countries. It is heralded in some cultures as an aphrodisiac and a symbol of love, but Britons purchase on average only one mango each per year. That explains a lot. As part of a drive to raise the fruit's profile (and perhaps also the British libido), supermarkets including Sainsbury's, Safeway and the Co-op will offer a "buy one, get one free" deal for the whole "week". And hopefully you'll know when you've been mangoed.

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Festivities are launched at Peterhead Harbour today to mark the end of Herring week. Organised by the Sea Fish Industry Authority, the open day begins at 10.30am and boasts more than 40 stalls and exhibitions. Admission is £1 for adults, 50p for children and OAPs. It's a family day out (if yours is the kind of family that likes to watch fish-filleting) where you can indulge in a kipper barbecue and pick up a few hints from the Seafish Kitchen demonstrations. Live music will accompany you on a tour around some local fishing boats, and providing you don't feel too sea-sick why not take part in the herring-eating competition, held between 12-2pm? The brave winner receives £150, proceeds go to Peterhead Fishermen's Mission, and if fish really do give you brains you'll feel pretty clever by then.

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If you can't face the local farmers' market today, log on to www.food40.com. Many of the speciality foods available from this website are organic, and if you can buy it in a supermarket, it's unlikely to feature here. Food40 is not just a shopping page though – as you browse, you can digest the various food producers' philosophies, or take a virtual tour of the Ringwood brewery and inspect cakes fresh from the oven of the Halstock Bakery. And before you pop wild boar and ostrich into your virtual basket, view them roaming freely in their terrestrial habitat. You can specify all sorts of dietary preferences – GM-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, wheat-free and additive-free. Whatever you choose, your body will thank you for it, which will more than compensate for the fact that you didn't even have to get out of bed to buy it.

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