WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BEEF
Any farmer, chef, or food-lover will testify that the higher standard of farming, the better-tasting the meat. A higher-welfare cow has meat that’s slightly firmer. It has a substantial fat covering and good marbling which is a creamier colour.
Pasture-fed cows are also healthier as they have evolved naturally to eat forage, not forced onto grains. Their meat is also generally higher in vitamin E which provides protection – against toxins and neurological diseases – and beta carotene, which is good for the immune system.
Here’s our recommendations for shopping for beef in the supermarket. If you have any you would like to share please let us know at email@example.com
THE GOOD LABELS TO LOOK OUT FOR IN THE SUPERMARKET
Laverstoke Park Farm
Waitrose / Ocado
Various brands, most supermarkets
- Non-British beef
- Red Tractor
- Non-labelled beef
WHY? Beef cows in the UK tend to get access to grass… at least until they are herded indoors or crowded into feedlots for fattening before slaughter.
In indoor systems, beef cattle are commonly housed on slatted floors, which creates injuries and leads to lameness, and in crowded conditions which increases aggression.
THE TRUTH BEHIND THE LABELLING: WHAT LABELS TELL YOU ABOUT ANIMAL WELFARE (IF ANYTHING)
Organic: one of the highest animal welfare labels, especially if Soil Association certified
Pasture-fed for life: also incredibly high standards, these cows are free-range and haven’t been fattened up on grains
Dry aged: this doesn’t tell you much about welfare, but is an encouraging sign as the producer was willing to lose weight (and therefore money) to intensify flavour. Beware of ‘aged’ meat labels – which can just mean it’s been sitting in its vacuum-packed bag since slaughter
British / Irish / West Country etc: again this doesn’t tell you much, but British beef cattle husbandry generally better than abroad
Hereford / Aberdeen Angus/ Wagyu etc: well-known breeds, but that doesn’t guarantee quality. Animal husbandry is the most important thing to find out about.
Name of farm on packaging: again, an encouraging sign but not a guarantee. It provides the information you need to find out more.
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT DAIRY
Once upon a time cows were used for their milk and then slaughtered for their meat.
Today, industrial farmed cows are bred to maximise milk production. They have huge udders and can barely take the weight of the milk they produce on their thin legs. They are so intensively milked they are exhausted after two or three years and then sent to slaughter, when their meat is only good enough of the cheapest of products.
Organic dairy cows live for 15 years and get put out to pasture. Their meat is higher quality.