Thursday, 14 February 2013

Isn't It Time we All Had Allotments And Smallholdings?

I have been an allotment grower and smallholder for over twenty years now.  The horse meat scandal in England makes me want to express some of my thoughts.

Did you know that most vegetables in our supermarkets are sprayed with harmful chemicals that kill wildlife and flora?  These chemicals are also strongly linked to some cancers.

Most farm animals end up in the slaughter house unless they are ill and full of drugs or got TB.

Any bovine farm animal in Europe is required by law to have an annual TB test in a cattle crush.  The cattle crush is compulsory and all farmers have to have one.  Horses do not not need to be tested.  So why have them in the food factories?

Bulls (old or young) are killed and sold as beef.  Old sows are killed and sold as bacon.  Then we wonder some times why our meat is tough.

It's pleasing to hear that people are moving away from processed food.  Lets support our local farmers and butchers and green grocers and allotment growers.  But ask for traditional breeds of beef like Aberdeen Angus or Hereford.  Ask them to mince the steak in front of you.  Ask the green grocer for a certain brand of carrot:

"Have you got any "Nantes" carrots, please?"

It's your money after all, so don't settle for anything but the best.

Better still grow some traditional veg with no nasty chemicals.  Get an allotment or even buy or rent a smallholding.   I often see cheap smallholdings for sale here in Ireland, Scotland and Portugal.   Lets make the countryside alive again.  The only way you will know if your food is chemical free and what breed or variety you want is to grow it and raise it yourself.


  1. We're lucky here I suppose, a rural area with meat rearing farms, livestock auctions and an abbatoir, a few surviving independant butchers dispensing high quality products. Sadly a few of our local butchers specialities like black pudding and brawn are no longer made by them, due, I'm told, to EEC regulations, but they still make real Cumberland sausage (often imitated but never beaten)

    They would be able to tell you the scource animal of your meat, probably even the farm, as they attend auction and bid for the live animals. Sadly they have to send them to the central abbatoir for slaughter (it's not that many years ago since they each did their own slaughtering though). Sides of beef are still hung for the required length of time, and cuts prepared in front of you.

    Unlike the superstores, here they have small fresh meat counters with a cutter in charge (known as a butcher because most of their customers probably won't know the dofference). Their chief function it seems is to cut and pack the met into plastic trays to present nice-looking offering to Mrs shopper.

    Not so much luck on the vegetable front, we're not much of a market garden area, the few in existance tend to have big greenhouses and grow tomatoes or bedding out plants for the flower growing market. Most field crops are fodder crops.

    Would be nice to have a couple of acres, a Jersey milker or two and a few pigs, but rules and regulations would probably strangle such a small enterprise.

  2. Sounds like you can get some great high quality products Cumbrian. We have some good little butchers here with their own little slaughter houses. They will even slaughter your animals for you for a price. I am going to get one done this summer. Don't know which one yet. Wish we hadn't given them all names.

    Vegetable plot is half cleared and ready. Field is half ploughed and too wet to finish. Local bird population love having baths in the furrows. Seen a rabbit the other day. No doubt on a reconnaissance mission for future fodder beat crop.

    Your 2 acre smallholding sounds great.

    Thanks Cumbrian

  3. Yes, I suppose we're fairly well catered for with butchers, although there used to be an awful lot more of them
    My village had 3 in my schooldays, pork, lamb and beef, they each had a van with selling round, but only the beef man had a shop. The lamb and pig butchers had their own paddock and did their own killing and cutting, us kids weren't excluded from watching proceedings, no H & S then.

    Always a mistake giving meat animals names. Why not send two at once, one for the butcher to sell and one to give you back in joints? That's if the butcher likes the look of your beasts and doesn't tell you which is which.

    You'll need to add rabbit to your recipe book, I haven't tasted a wild rabbit for years, Mrs doesn't like bloodsports so I sold my 12-bores about 6 years ago when I moved to Manchester to live with her, there wasn't any shooting in Manchester anyway, and the posession of 12-bores would probably have made me a disreputable person. Occasionally they appear in the back garden, and twice Raggy cat has brought us a bunny, but I'm not allowed to catch or cook them.

    Haven't been outside, still suffering, but feels a bit colder.
    Raggy cat back into its hedonistic milk & biccies then sleep routine; I hung a duvet cover to dry in the living room, it made itself a nest in it, so we just left it there.

  4. There's a butcher near us who owns a little slaughter works complete with its own field. Once we went to a little West Cork town one morning and we saw sheep walking down the high street. The missus wanted to know where they were going. They went into the back of the butchers. Lambs only live about 3 months and pigs are 4 months old. Farming is very sad really, but you have got to eat and everything goes through a cycle - life and death.

    I don't bother any more when we despatch one of our animals. Just don't like when somebody says:

    "Is this 'Blackie' that we are eating?"

    The kids say it on purpose for devilment.

    I have never tasted rabbit, that I am aware of. I have tried Pheasant and spent most of the meal spitting out the gun shot. It was suprisingly good.

    I think Raggy cat was human in another life.


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