Once upon time, a long long time ago, in ancient times in fact (okay it was 1983) I decided i was going to become a vegetarian. I am sure my mum did that eye rolling thing that all parents do when their delightful offspring announce something that means they have to start cooking two different dinners every night.
It was back before Linda McCartney had come up with her incredible range, and where the only thing you could really get in Sainsburys was called TVP: textured vegetable protein. It looked liked mince was often powered and had to be mixed with boiling water before then being “shaped” into something vaguely edible. Mostly it got stuffed into a loaf tin and turned into “I can’t believe it’s not meat but I have had to close my eyes, hold my nose and cover it in Ketchup”.
I stuck it out for a few years and then I met and fell in love with a butcher.
So there endeth my brief spell as a veggie.
I also missed Scotch eggs and bacon rolls on a Sunday.
That was then amplified by living in Saudi Arabia for six years where there were no pork products. Sausages were made from turkey and there something called “breakfast meat” that tried to act like streaky bacon but really it wasn’t anything like. Needs must though.
Times have now changed and whilst I am not a veggie, my beliefs surrounding animal welfare remain the same. We ensure our eggs are free range, and that our meat at least has the red tractor symbol on it. As much as possible we also try to buy organic.
Which is why I jumped at the chance recently to try out a range of products from The Black Farmer. They go one step further with their pork products, ensuring none of the animals are reared free from antibiotics from birth, are free to roam outside and are fed only on a vegetarian diet.
I had never really thought about animals being exposed to antibiotics until we talked to a friend of ours several years ago who’s sister had been seriously ill. Doctors were baffled why the drugs she was taking were not working when really they should have been. Until they then stumbled across some research (maybe this paper published in 2015) that talked about how antibiotics used in animals can affect humans. Meat was eliminated from her diet and within days the drugs began to work effectively. Coincidence? Maybe, we will never know, but it made me very aware of what farmers have to do to keep their animals healthy if they are raised in confined spaces for instance, treat them with antibiotics. And clearly the implications for us of that are not great, whilst it is not easy to always know you are avoiding the drugs.
So to hear that The Black Farmer are now selling pork that is guaranteed to be antibiotic free is great news.
Currently is only available through Ocado but I am really hoping that will change over the coming months. We tried some out recently and it was delicious.
A simple roux with mustard added to it stirred over the cooked pork and we had a tasty, and healthy dinner, in less than half an hour.
Safe in the knowledge we hadn’t ingested anything nasty either.
Now that’s a winning dinner if ever you wanted one.