Edge and Son ButcherWhy is Meat from Rare Breeds so Special

Eating Quality: Taste, Flavour & Succulence

We aim to source our meat from the best breeds - often these are classed as rare breeds supported by the Traditional Breeds Meat Marketing Association.

tbmmAll information here is from the TBMM website. When all the ‘ingredients are added together, the eating quality of meat from rare breeds knocks spots off the competition whether its organic, mainstream or even beef from cattle fed on beer and massaged. Part of the reason is in the genes of these old breeds.

It is no coincidence that these old-fashioned breeds lost ground as farming became more intensive. These breeds couldn’t adapt and were left by the wayside to become rare as modern farming went with early-maturing stock from continental and north American origins which responded positively to new ways of farming and feeding. You literally cannot manage an old breed like a Large Black pig in a highly intensive system which is why they and so many others became rare in the first place  more than one or two breeds even became extinct within living memory.

The fact that these breeds are slower maturing means that they are older when they reach the right level of ‘finish and thus the meat has developed more flavour.

Another factor mitigating against many of the rare breeds in this new world dominated by supermarkets and health ‘experts was that some carried too much fat! Yet as our knowledge expands, so we come to recognise that some fat is necessary in order for the meat to have succulence and flavour (and for pork to have crispy crackling). And now scientists tell us (but the supermarkets won’t) that beef and lamb extensively fed on grass (and pigs with linseed in their diet) carry significant levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in their meat and fat meaning that oily fish, which itself is endangered around our coasts, is not the only natural product with these health-boosting benefits built in.

Why Grass Fed is Best

herefordThere is so much literature on this subject. If you google ‘grass fed vs grain fed’, you will find numerous sources of information on why we should be eating grass fed stock. Simply put:

Why is grass fed meat more nutritious and better for us?

  • It is not natural for cattle to eat grain
  • The results are a different fat composition
  • Grass fed cattle have 3x omega 3 fatty acids
  • Grass fed cattle have 3 x vitamin E
  • Grass fed cattle have 10 x beta carotene

Why is grass fed meat safer?

  • aberdeen-angusCattle should not eat grain- their digestion systems are not designed for it
  • E-coli is high risk in grain fed stock
  • E-coli is low risk in grass fed stock

Why is grass fed meat kinder to the animal?

  • Cattle grow in their natural environment
  • Space
  • Light
  • Movement
  • Natural diet- well fed but not force fed!
  • Live longer

roast-beefIs it tastier?

  • Taste tests consistently conclude that naturally fed animals taste better
  • Stress free animals create more tender meat.

What about the environment?

Although controversial, (and we are sure we will hear a lot more of this in the future), the Food Revolution Network says this:

"As well as its nutritional advantages, there are also environmental benefits to grassfed beef. According to David Pimentel, a Cornell ecologist who specializes in agriculture and energy, the corn we feed our feedlot cattle accounts for a staggering amount of fossil fuel energy. Growing the corn used to feed livestock takes vast quantities of chemical fertilizer, which in turn takes vast quantities of oil. Because of this dependence on petroleum, Pimentel says, a typical steer will in effect consume 284 gallons of oil in his lifetime. Comments Michael Pollan:

“We have succeeded in industrializing the beef calf, transforming what was once a solar-powered ruminant into the very last thing we need: another fossil-fuel machine.”