Why Buy Native Breed Beef?
British Native Breed meat is a huge gamble for the farmers that rear it.
I believe that whenever possible you should buy native breed beef and to find the best quality meat you have to begin with the farmer.
An animal bred and raised in the traditional manner that has been allowed to mature naturally will produce much better quality meat. Beef from cattle that are native to the UK and suited to the particular environment of the British countryside make the best eating. These animals are allowed to mature at a natural pace and develop slowly in contrast to the fast growing cross breeds developed to provide supermarket meat. This slow development and growth on a natural diet creates meat with a great depth of flavour and a healthy fat content. However, better meat comes at a cost. Because native breed beef takes longer to mature, it’s a longer term investment for the farmer. That’s one of the reasons that these breeds fell out of favour and became “rare” breeds, the other being that they naturally have a higher fat content. This means that the butcher has more waste.
By buying and eating rare breed meat, you’re not speeding up the extinction of a threatened species as logic would imply. The opposite is true, as demand for rare breeds helps to support farmers who are dedicating their time, energy and money to the pursuit of better quality meat. The reason that these breeds became rare in the first place is that they are less economically viable to produce than their fast growing, cross bred cousins. Taking the decision to farm native breeds in the current climate takes courage and dedication.
Charles Ashbridge, who rears our beef and pork was raised on a North Yorkshire farm and had his own cattle when he was just six years old. Having left the farm to work in retail buying, he was having dinner with his mother Joyce at the family farm, Mount Grace, when he was struck by the idea to specialise in rare breed pork. His hope was that by offering a more traditional meat he could make the farm profitable and sustainable. Twelve years later he has over 400 head of cattle across three farms and a butchery in North Yorkshire dedicated to the preparation of the best quality end product. His heard of Gloucester Old Spot pork is now the largest in the UK.
Charles is living proof that farming in traditional ways with native breeds can be viable and sustainable and we should support such enthusiasm when we buy our meat. At Grid Iron, all the meat we offer is from British native breeds from North Yorkshire farms.