Which meat will be on your plate this Christmas?

by Angharad Evans, Welsh Language Communications Officer

It's hard to believe that we are now counting down the last few weeks of 2021, another challenging year coming to an end, with everyone hoping that the new year will signify a better time. But what has become increasingly apparent this year is the growing appetite for shopping locally and supporting small local businesses. It's great to see farmers and their families venturing, diversifying and offering farm produce directly from the farm - which is what the customer wants today - knowing and understanding exactly where the produce on the plate comes from - from gate to plate!

With the mention of possible turkey shortages during early autumn this year, are we able to contemplate the traditional Christmas dinner without turkey, and think of an alternative meat? 

Here’s Helen Thomas, FUW's Deputy County Executive Officer in Gwent and Glamorgan to introduce two members who have ventured with their meat boxes:  “Our members Ben and wife Julia run a low input traditional farm in Monmouthshire, where their cattle and sheep are grass fed only. 

They sell their beef and lamb direct to local customers and accommodate any specific requests where possible. You only need to read the comments on social media to see how happy their customers are knowing where their meat is coming from.”

Cornel Clecs had the opportunity to have a chat with Ben and Julia from their farm, Ffynnonau and to explain more about the success of their company Hillside Beef and Lamb,  where all the Beef and Lamb is certified pasture fed by the Pasture Fed Livestock Association.  Here’s Ben to explain more:

“When I started Hillside Beef and Lamb, in its original guise, we were actually selling free range pork and lamb boxes, direct off the farm and delivered locally in the back of my mother’s old Ford Fiesta. The idea of anyone having anything but Turkey at Christmas always seemed quite a strange idea to me.

“Fast forward to the last couple of years and as the business has grown, my wife and I are selling Beef all year round, and in season Lamb. We still deliver locally but now in our fridge van. We have now discovered the remarkable upsurge in orders around Christmas time, as many people try alternative Christmas meats.

At this time of year, the orders change from steaks and mince to large joints, "Enough for 9! Enough for 12, with leftovers!" Whole fillets for Beef Wellingtons, whole legs of Lamb, whole rib joints for table centrepieces. 

I think Turkey is going to be the traditional meat of choice at Christmas for many years to come yet, but it has to be said there is a lot of demand for other meats at this time too.

At a time when climate change is so big in the news, maybe good pasture fed Beef or Lamb, sourced locally is the best gift at Christmas. Low food miles and supporting local farms and businesses which support the local economy, as well as being environmentally good practice.”

Helen further explains: “There has been a lot of turbulence in the agricultural sector of late and it is vitally important to remember that it is these small family run farms that form the backbone of the local economy.

“Pasture based meat such as what Ben and Julia produce is the most sustainable food production and why it is important to buy local. The other benefits of buying locally are that it strengthens the economy and reduces the environmental impact.”

Whatever meat is on your plate this Christmas, make sure it's local and of the highest quality. I wish you and all your families a very happy Christmas. Thank you for your support and for being loyal readers once again. See you all in 2022, and do get in touch if you have any stories that would be of interest to Cornel Clecs - it would be great to hear from you.