A few weeks ago I found myself standing in a freezing farmyard contemplating a shed full of cattle. I was on a Yorkshire Food Finder tour visiting some of the region’s best food producers. The Herefords, Aberdeen Angus, Galloways and little Dexters – belonged to Charles Ashbridge of Taste Tradition who farms at at Cold Kirby in the south west corner of the North York Moors. Watching these handsome beasts munching on Charles’s homemade winter feed and looking out across the lovely Hambleton Hills where they graze in summer, decided me that not only would I add their butchery (just off the A19 at Thirsk) to my list of prime suppliers but to firm up my resolution to buy meat only from good non-supermarket butchers.
Then last week, by coincidence Squidbeak were invited by John Penny & Sons, farmers and meat wholesalers based in Rawdon near Leeds, to join the Meat Crusade, a new national campaign (backed by the likes of Jay Rayner, Rosemary Shrager and Joanna Blythman) to support local butchers with the slogan ‘Butchers are for life, not just for Christmas’. Penny pointed out that there were 22,000 butcher’s shops in the 1980’s, now there are just 6,553 and if we don’t want to see them go the way of fishmongers we need to use them.
We concur. After all you won’t find top chefs using supermarkets. They go to a butcher to get exactly what they want at the price they want and we can too. Any butcher worth their salt will prepare you any part of any beast including the less popular cuts like oxtail or pig’s trotters or pig’s head. And your meat won’t come on a soggy mat wrapped in cling film either. You should also be much clearer about the meat’s origins and how the animal has been reared.
Some Yorkshire butchers to look out for are here on the Meat Crusade’s website. My own favourites include…. Fodder of Harrogate, Wilson’s of Crossgates, Leeds, Hutchinson’s of Ripley, R. Lyth of Hinderwell and Staithes, Radford’s of Sleights. Tell us about yours.