Who doesn’t want a better way to cook and an easier way to support local farmers?
A brand new ethical meat delivery service is being launched in Manchester this week. Rather than just offering the most popular cuts of meat, MeatCo’s new delivery service will also encourage the use of more unusual cuts available from local suppliers.
MeatCo is headed by two women from Manchester who are passionate about eating ethically, supporting local farmers and educating meat lovers about why it’s so important to do so.
If you’re going to eat meat, do it right
Justine Fitton, originally from the Rossendale Valley, and India Morris, who was brought up on a dairy farm in Ramsbottom, have both spent time around farming communities and understand how farmers struggle to compete with supermarkets - and that’s without the added pressures of the recent restaurant closures.
They both really enjoy eating meat, but have found themselves questioning whether to buy it from supermarkets and the usual outlets, due to concerns around animal welfare. “We found many of our peers felt the same and would be happier buying from an honest, ethical source which also supports local farmers and their livelihoods,” says India.
“Supermarkets are able to offer mass amounts at a low price and supply where there is customer demand. They don't educate customers on where their meat comes from, how it is farmed or that there are other bits of the animal they could be eating to offset food miles and wastage. MeatCo is transparent, ethical and educational. We want our customers to understand what they are cooking and why. Hopefully we can make the consumer think a little before making habit purchases.”
Rather than customers picking and choosing which products they want in the box, each delivery will contain a hand-picked variety of the very best selection of meat on offer from local farms. The contents will change throughout the year in a bid to reduce waste and encourage a more sustainable way to eat. Within each box there will be some familiar favourites, but with the addition of more unusual cuts the average meat eater might not have heard of, never mind cooked or eaten.
All beef is dry-aged for four weeks as standard and unusual cuts could be flank, skirt, heart, oxtail, bone marrow, or even 'salmon' cut. With lamb, the box could include breast, scrag end or mutton. “We're hoping that our recipes and tutorials can teach consumers how to cook these so they taste incredible,” adds India.
Alongside each delivery, there will be recipes for each new cut of meat, which will be developed by a team of chefs to be easily replicated at home.
As the business develops, there are plans for social media cook-alongs and other ways to encourage customers to take more of an interest in the meat they buy and where it comes from.
Currently in Britain, 26% of meat is imported as a way to keep up with the demand for popular cuts such as sirloin or fillet, while 27% of British-reared meat is exported to other countries because Brits simply don’t want it. This leads to hundreds of thousands of unnecessary food miles each year, resulting in massive negative environmental effects.
The demand for these ‘prime’ cuts of meat has also opened the UK market to imports from countries, which may have lower animal welfare standards and high intensity farming practices. Because local farmers are forced to compete with these lower standards and higher turnover, many are struggling to make a living.
MeatCo’s way of supplying readily available produce will not only help to reduce waste at local farms, but also aims to help local suppliers thrive in an ethical and sustainable way.
MeatCo are currently working with farmers like Peter Holt and Joe Bosworth in Rossendale who are rearing extraordinary lambs. Cattle are coming from the Thwaites family farm in Clitheroe who are renowned for rearing Limousin cattle and MeatCo will be announcing more farmers in the coming weeks in the Greater Manchester and Lancashire area.
“We only work with farmers who are committed to using more traditional, environmentally friendly methods,” says India. “Animals are naturally grass fed as they spend their lives on the hills and pastures. Farmers will occasionally supplement feed with barley and wheat if required.
“We trust the farmers to select the best breeds that work for their particular area. Sometimes they will cross more traditional breeds with Texels and other high yield breeds because they can achieve a better quality of meat. Focusing on specific breeds adds to meat miles - locality is key, as we want to reduce food miles as much as possible.”
“Lockdown has obviously had a huge knock on effect on many things,” adds Justine. “Restaurants have been closed, and small local farmers lost a lot of business and were struggling. Essential shopping rules meant that deliver to your door options were more popular than ever, and spending more time at home has given people time to cook.
“We saw a lot of disastrous dishes on Instagram and thought it was probably time to give a little helping hand whilst doing our best to support small and be as ethical as possible. If you’re going to eat meat, do it right.”
MeatCo prices are currently:
£45 for the small box (serves two people for four meals)
£75 for the large box (serves four people for four meals)
There’s also a steak box for £55
The new delivery service will be launching soon, with delivery available across Greater Manchester. To sign up for the pilot, click here.