Saturday, 23 August 2014

What's Wrong With Eating Some Red Meat?

I watched the end of  a tv programme on Monday night about how safe it is eating meat.  I tuned in at half time of the Burnley - Chelsea match.  Oh why didn't the 'Special One' and Mr Fabregas choose the Theatre of Dreams instead of Stamford Bridge?  I was mightily impressed with the slickness and wonderful attacking football played by Chelsea.

Any road.  According to the BBC programme.  Every time you eat a bacon sandwich you are taking an hour off your life.

 I remember what John Seymour once wrote in his classic: "Self Sufficiency" book:

...Animal fat only gives seizures and coronary thrombosis to people who do not get enough exercise.  When this nation was fed on bacon and fat beef and mutton the disease was unknown.  Now, as meat gets leaner and leaner until it nearly fades away, thrombosis is increasing faster than any other disease except lung cancer.  It is idleness that causes diseases of the heart.  True manual workers never get coronary thrombosis, and nor do self-supporters...

Don't shoot the messenger.  That's what the great self sufficiency guru John Seymour said.  I

Think he does have a point though.  Most of us live in a post industrial society these days.  How many people do you know who actually make a physical product?  Britain and Ireland seems to no longer manufacture the majority of its products and imports goods from China and overseas.  The emphasis on education is to become an academic and go for a white collar job.  What ever happened to technical schools and apprenticeships and the ancient Guilds system that worked in every town and village in England in feudal times?

I am a smallholder living in West Cork with 11 cattle and cattle seem prices are very depressing at the moment.  Cattle have been back 100 Euros an head compared to this time last year.  The horse meat crisis, the world recession (will it ever end, 10 years now!) and this paranoia about red meat doesn't help.  Some of us farm for sentiment (ancestors farm) and only make ("that's a good one") a couple of hundred Euro per animal if we are lucky.

Please can I ask you readers a very interesting question?  How many times a week do you eat red meat?  I eat it every day.  There's nothing wrong with roast beef and home grown vegetables or a good T bone steak is there?



  1. Organic meat ,vegetables and fruit are full of flavour.
    The non organic foods are full of chemicals and it is the chemicals that shorten peoples lives.
    As to how often I eat meat: the answer is whenever my body asks me too. I gave up eating meat in the UK in 1980 then when I went to Belfast in '86 and tasted organic beef I started on the eating regime that I now use.
    As for the media most of them utter crap and create panic.

  2. Hi Heron. I prefer the label: 'Home Grown' to 'Organic'. Or even 'grown without man made chemicals'. Organic meat and vegetables are often far too expensive for a lot of people to afford. I have looked into going organic but there is too much red tape and most organic animals end up at conventional animal marts. The powers that be won't let non organic animals to convert to organic. I do like the principles of traceability and sending them to local butchers and good animal welfare.

    My animals (cattle mainly) are treated for worms and we all always adhere to the correct drug withdrawal period before they go to the factory or butcher. We don't use any man made chemicals on our veg plot. Don't suppose the day will ever come when every farmer is made to go organic? Even organic food is shipped and flown in from thousands of miles away and I hate it when they wrap vegetables in plastic. Thanks Heron!

  3. We eat meat nearly every day, all homegrown, but I do not make a fuss if we go out for the occasional meal and eat whatever meat is cooked for us or is on the menu because I do not think it polite to kick up a fuss about wanting to eat only certain types of food, one of my pet angsts being 'vegetarians' who put themselves up on some 'holier than thou' plinth and then feed themselves with cheese, milk, butter, cream, etc...... We have been made to feel like we are defending ourselves on numerous occasions, not only because we eat our own meat, but that we slaughter the animals ourselves, not wanting to put the animals through the stress of being sent to a slaughterhouse, but that is easier for us because we can do that with pigs, sheep, and goats, but we would not be able to do that if we kept cattle. An imminent problem is the male cow that has just been born. We can't sell him because there is no market for him, so what do we do with him......slaughter him now, or wait for a few months until there is some meat on him, but then he will be too big for us to slaughter, so it would have to be the slaughterhouse which is at least 45 minutes away, and I am not sure I would be happy with eating the meat after that anyway.

    I suppose that we are mostly organic, but will never try and get registered because of all the paperwork and inspections we would have to do and have. We don't sell any of our produce at the moment, but might have to in a year or two. I think that we would say that our produce is homegrown and chemical free. We are fortunate that here in France the French people still have high regard for the quality of the food that they eat, although in the six years we have been here we have seen that quality decline as food costs spiral.

    We regard ourselves as very lucky to be able to grow and eat food which is chemical free, and I would think that you feel the same. But we always seem to justifying ourselves when it comes to living the lifestyle that we do to others, who look at us as if we are vaguely freaky for putting in the work that needs to be done in order to get ourselves fed.

    Sorry to have gone a bit, but I am totally with you on your views! Vx

  4. Hi Dave - I have been a veggie since the early 80's but for the past couple of years have eaten fish, eggs and very occasionally meat (but not chicken).
    I feel physically better somehow when I don't eat meat - that's just me - but I do eat real butter, eat free range local eggs and would drink proper full-fat milk if I could get it. Despite the warnings my cholesterol levels are fine :)

  5. Almost every day, I'm a committed carnivore, except Friday is (usually) fish day, not religious just habit.

    Bring back the days when the small man could keep a couple of pigs at the bottom of the garden and slaughter at home, complete control over the animals life and death, how stressing it must be to be taken to the abattoir.

    Today was breast of lamb hot-pot, and Sunday a piece of brisket.

    What surprises me is the the number of people who say they "couldn't possibly kill an animal", often whilst tucking in to a piece of sirloin, leg of lamb or a pork chop.

    Must admit to agreeing with John Seymour, I remember the old Cumberland pigs, (extinct since 1969), huge animals and full of fat. And taste.

  6. Thanks Vera for your comments. I don't think you can beat your own fresh meat and vegetables. I certainly notice the difference if we eat out. We take our animals to a local butcher about quarter of an hour away. Wish there was a mobile animal despatcher who came to the smallholding and shot them like they did in JS Self Sufficiency book.

    Fifty percent of animals are male or female at least. So we have to eat the males. I would keep your bull calf over the Winter and get him clamped in the Spring. He will be a good grazing companion for his mother and you will have some very good meat before he is two. Jersey meat is supposed to be delicious.

    I would like to go organic but there doesn't seem to be a market and I can't afford to buy organic weanlings. Can't see why everybody can't convert to organic without all the red tape.


  7. Hi Jane. I find it refreshing that you and the other people who have commented think about what you eat and where it comes from. I haven't drank milk for a few years because I no longer like the taste. Yet saying that. We buy organic milk from the local supermarket which is actually cheaper than the normal dairy stuff. Thanks!

  8. Thanks Cumbrian and welcome back. I get tired of the scaremongering about food in the media. Don't they realise saying red meat is bad is costing people their livelihoods? If anything it envourages you to grow your own even though the powers that be don't want self supporters and their little smallholdings and allotments.

    I get annoyed with continental cattle making top money and cattle like the whitehead (friesian/hereford cross) lagging behind. You don't see the continental meat for sale in the shops and the onky reason farmers keep them is because they are big boned, grow fast and therefore weigh more. Everything is based on weight and not taste.

    My father use to look after 5 year old bullocks in his youth. Said they were like Elephants before they went to slaughter. Thanks!

  9. Yes, I think you're about right, the powers-that-be don't really want small men with small holdings producing small amounts of food for themselves.
    That's because they don't get anything out of it, and have no control; the two things they strive for are money and control over every aspect of our existence (they don't want us to have a living)

    Saw some tasty-looking beef driving down from Glasgow, the blocky configuration of a Belgian Blue (bit too big in the back end to be Hereford I think) but the typical black & white colouring of a Friesian.
    Some of the best beef I've had came from Scotland, they seem to keep them longer and grow them a bit more naturally for 3 years, rather than the "baby beef" I'm told is knocked down at 18 months after a life of growth-enhancing substances.

  10. There mad for the Charolais cattle here in Ireland, Cumbrian. Think it goes abroad. A really quick growing and big boned animal with very lean meat. I like traditional breeds like the Hereford and Aberdeen Angus. A lot of Dairy farmers inseminate their cows with Aberdeen Angus for a small first time calf. We have an An Aberdeen Angus bullock. He's nice and stocky and not yet two. Never had a bullock killed for ourselves. I am sure we must of ate them when we bought meat from the supermarket.

    I remember the Scottish Aberdeen Angus beef when I lived in England.

    A lot of bulls don't even reach 16 months these days. They even penalize (weaker price) you if your cattle are over 30 months.

    It's very difficult if nay impossible to make a living from a smallholding (less than 20 acres) these days. Guess it always was? I like living on a smallholding but there is a down side in terms of no public transport, few jobs, no pub, shop, commuinity centre and it's very isolated struggling on your own. Think there is more camaraderie living in a nice rural village with a local butchers/shop and allotments.


  11. "Fifty percent of animals are male or female at least."

    Er' Dave what exactly do you mean - have you been on the drink hehe ?

    1. Yes, I wondered about that as well Heron, maybe we could do with a couple of pints of what Dave's been drinking?

  12. Hi Heron. I does sound daft, doesn't it? What I was trying to say was that when a calf is born there is a fifty percent chance it will be male or female. Sometimes you get more female calves and sometimes you get more males. Not many of the males will be used to sire new cattle so the only thing a farmer can do is to sell them or fatten them and kill them.

  13. I could do with a couple of pints that you brew. How is the home brewing going? I very rarely go in a pub in Ireland because it's too expensive these days. If I have a drink I buy some cans of Newcastle Brown or go to Lidl for some South African (red) wine - excellent and cheap. When I went to Bratislava. I paid a Euro for a pint of Dunkels. Superb German beer that reminded of home brew. Why is Britain and Ireland so dear?

  14. Hi Dave, we eat meat only at the weekend. Beef and lamb are a real treat, it is too expensive for us now.

    we are still looking for our own house and land. like Vera, we will probably end up in France. we cant find anything in England and if we do we are out bid buy people wanting to keep horses

  15. Hi Sol. Thanks for your comment.

    How much land do you wantfor your smallholding? There are plenty of detached houses in Ireland under 50000 Euro with an acre of land. Have a look at and see what there is for that figure. Some of them will need doing up, but you will have your smallholding. Permaculture Magazine Classifieds (it's on the Internet) got some interesting properties at the moment. There is also the option of renting a smallholding. I wish you luck and please let me know how you get on. Thanks!


Some Pictures Around Shaftesbury and Other Hardy Country.

Gold Hill in Shaftesbury.  Remember the Hovis advert?  I remembered watching the Grumble-weeds in Scarborough many moons ago doing Joe Gl...