Do you know where your meat comes from?


Blog 12

Can you decode the jargon used to distinguish different types of meat and its origins? Indoor Bred, Outdoor Bred, Outdoor Reared and Free Range – all clear if you understand the meaning behind the label, misleading if you don’t.

Indoor Bred – (All pigs stay indoors) The pigs live their entire life indoors, commonly on hard solid floors with straw or similar material for bedding.  A pigs’ natural instinct is to forage – get its snout in the mud and forage for food, the indoor bred pig will never get to do this. Sows may still give birth in farrowing crates – this restricts the sows’ movements and the piglets only have access to her to feed. There is no access to the outdoors, although they get to move around freely within a pen, they are kept in small groups so there is less likelihood that there will be conflict or tail biting,caused by boredom.  Pigs are social creatures, their social behaviour is highly developed, new born piglets begin to form social dominance relationships with littermates within hours of being born!

Outdoor Bred – (Breeding herd outside free range but pigs reared for meat inside). The breeding females or sows are kept free range in paddocks, outdoors, with huts for shelter and straw for bedding. Around 4 weeks after the sow gives birth the piglets will be weaned, being taken away from her and moved indoors and fattened in extensive and intensive conditions. In this system the sow will have the higher quality of life and is able to act naturally – nesting, rooting, wallowing and foraging. The piglets only get this quality until they are weaned.

Outdoor Reared – (Breeding herd outside free range with pigs reared for meat outside but unable to roam freely). The sow, again, gets to live her life outdoors naturally and the piglets are weaned at the same time. They are reared in pens outside but unable to roam as in a free range system.

Free range: Breeding herd and pigs reared for meat outside free range

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Free Range – Whilst there is no legal definition of ‘Free Range Pork’ a voluntary industry code in the UK requires that free range pigs have permanent access to pasture, they are born outside (without stalls or crates) and are then reared outside throughout their lives. On the best free range pig farms, the sows and the growing pigs are kept outside for their entire lives.

Blog 9All Farmer’s Choice meat is FREE RANGE and our pigs are no exception. On a bitterly cold morning at the end of January we went to see Richard and Aimee on their free range pig farm in West Sussex. Their farm sits in the South Downs and enjoys a real countryside vista. Richard and Aimee have been raising free range pigs for over 12 years, producing first class pork from traditional breeds and are proud to be one of a few free range pig farmers in the South of the UK.

The breed raised on the farm is The Duroc. Their thick winter coat and hard skin allows them to survive the cold and wet of the British winter. This coat then moults in summer to leave the pig looking almost bald but able to cope with hot dry summers. Its tenacity in looking after its young combined with its docility between times makes it an ideal candidate for an outdoor pig producing succulent pork.

Blog 11

On the tour of the farm, we are shown several distinctly different areas.  One houses the gilts (a young female pig that has not yet bred/first time mum), sows waiting to be mated again, pregnant sows and the boars. They are in fields that look like a semi-circular sundials with a hut in the middle, a pivot point. That way Richard can bring the boar down to the pivot point and place him in whichever section he wants (to mate) without too much stress to the boar.

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The pregnant sow has a particularly precise gestation period of 114 to115 days (3 months, 3 weeks, 3 days) and when she is ready to have her piglets she is moved into the maternity of “farrowing” area which has the individual huts for her and her piglets, she is given lots of straw but even in the middle of our cold winters, inside the hut is toasty warm. For the summer Richard paints the huts white to reflect the sun so they don’t bake inside (4º difference, which might not sound a lot but very important to a pig).

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Richard has the breeding set up so the Sows give birth 3 weeks apart, in one area are the new mums, then the next one is filled with piglets running around, following mum, rooting around in the mud, learning to use the wiggle feeders.

Richard will only breed the sows for 6 litters. He tells us that after the 6th litre the sow tends to become clumsy even laying on the piglets, eating too much of the food – not letting the piglets get enough.

family hello

In another field are the adolescent pigs, they have so much space to wallow, run eat, drink etc. Pigs do tend to carve up the ground wallowing and foraging so they are constantly moved round to ensure that they always get the best of everything. This lot are due to be moved to the green pasture in the background in April.  Here they will live out their lives, naturally growing fat. The large tent in the middle is where the pigs are weighed.

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Richard and Aimee wanted a completely stress free life for the pigs and here on this farm is exactly what that is.  Even down to their final days the pigs are kept in their field, just moved down to the transport vehicle hours before they leave the farm.

Blog 2

Britain is only about 25% self-sufficient in bacon and 70% in pork, meaning it imports large quantities of pig meat, which farmers in the UK complain comes from animals generally raised in worse and more intensive indoor conditions, including in much of the EU. But the RSPCA’s Julia Wrathall said even in this country “a significant number” of the 9 million animals reared for meat each year “are living out their lives in unacceptable conditions”. – (extract taken from



Waste Not, Want Not!

Do you ever find yourself with lots of leftover Sunday roast.  Don’t just leave it in the fridge to eventually be thrown away on bin day, below are a couple of recipes to use it up and turn it into lunch box treats or just treats!

Crunchy Lamb Spring Rolls and Lamb and Potato Pasties

leftover lamb suggestions

leftover lamb suggestions

Crunchy Lamb Spring Rolls(makes 9 large or 12 small)

1 tbsp peanut oil
8 good sized spring onions, chopped diagonally and including as much of the green as is possibleLamb Spring Rolls
Half a Hispi or Pointed sweet cabbage, shredded
1 carrot, peeled and julienned finely
2 big handfuls of beansprouts
1 tsp Chinese five spice
a pinch of freshly ground black pepper
300g cooked, roasted lamb, shredded
200g filo pastry sheets
2 tbsp olive oil.

1. Prepare the vegetables prior to needing them and heat the peanut oil in a wok until really hot.
2. Stir fry the vegetables, keep turning them to prevent from browning in any way, until the carrots are just tender.
3. Tip the veggies into a heat proof bowl and set aside to cool a little.
4. Chop and shred the lamb.
5. Add the five spice, pepper and lamb to the veggies and stir to combine.
6. Cut the pastry pieces to size.
7. Brush a little oil onto the edges of the top half of the first sheet.
8. Place a spoonful (or more if you are making larger rolls) of the filling onto the lower half of the pastry sheet.
9. Gently start to roll the filling into the pastry, keeping the pastry as tight as possible without splitting it. Roll up to the oiled section, then fold in the edges to seal the filling into the tube.
10. Continue to roll until the pastry sheet is taken up. The oil should help the last bit to stick.
11. Gently place onto a baking sheet and continue with the next pastry sheet.
12. Once all are rolled, place into a pre-heated oven at 180ºC/340ºF/Gas 4 for 25-30 minutes or until the rolls are golden and crispy.

Lamb & Potato Pasties - (serves 3)

340g shortcrust pastryLamb and Potato Pastie
1 egg yolk
1 large potato, diced small
1.5 tsp Essential Cuisine lamb stock powder or a low salt lamb stock cube
1.5 tbsp (or thereabouts) Bisto Best lamb gravy granules
250g roasted lamb shoulder, diced
2 tbsp petits pois
half a tsp mint sauce

1. Using just enough water to cover the potatoes in a medium sized saucepan, bring the water to a boil and add the stock powder.
2. Stir the stock until dissolved, then add the potato and simmer for 5 minutes or so, until the dice are just tender.
3. Using a slotted spoon, remove the potato to a bowl and reserve to cool. Retain around a quarter of the stock and add just enough gravy grains to thicken it. Set it aside to cool.
4. Dice the lamb and place into a bowl with the cooled potato, two spoonfuls of the gravy, the petits pois and mint sauce. Stir gently to combine.
5. Roll out the pastry and cut out three 8″ circles.
6. Using the egg yolk, paint a little onto the edge of one half of each pastry circle.
7. Divide the filling between the three pastry circles, placing it on the un-egged side of the pastry.
8. Fold the egged side of the pastry over to encase the filling and press down lightly to seal.
9. Follow around the edge of the pastry with a decorative pattern, pressed in to fix the pastry properly, and cut a hole into the top to let the steam out.
10. Place onto a baking tray and give the pasties a good covering of egg wash.
11. Bake at 190degC/375degF/Gas5 for 30-35 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and crisp.

As a lunchtime snack or evening meal…don’t let the leftovers go to waste.

Recipes from @JennyEatwell

Apprentice of the Month – Barry Lipscombe

Another Farmer’s Choice apprentice has been given an award by MEAT Ipswich Ltd.

Apprentice of the Month

Apprentice of the Month


Barry won Apprentice of the Month in November 2014, but we have only just persuaded him to come and have his picture taken.

Barry, our youngest butcher, requested to take part in a year long course (FDQ Level 2) with MEAT Ipswich LTD to further his skills. Barry started his career as a carpenter (seven years), before joining Farmer’s Choice, so he is used to working with his hands and handling tools but I think we can all agree that the materials wildly differ.

The course is completed on site without the need for a day release.  Barry had to make his way through several work books, the more established butchers at Farmer’s Choice mentored him and an assessor came out 5 times during the year to see how he was getting on and put his newly learned skills to the test with practical exams.

Barry had to produce sausages from start to finish and as the course progressed he was given the tasks to break down whole lamb carcasses and a whole pig carcass.

The course also teaches the apprentices to look after their tools and he had to be able to show he could do that with knife sharpening skills, using the wet stone or the grinder which we have in situ.

Barry also had to show that he could easily manage the control of stock and of course his knowledge on Health and Safety.

We at Farmer’s Choice would like to congratulate Barry for achieving his qualification and receiving this award.  Great Work Barry!

MEAT (Ipswich) Ltd Award

MEAT (Ipswich) Ltd Award








Daniel Sawyer (another Farmer’s Choice Butcher) received Learner of the Month award, back in September 2010 before going on to receiving Apprentice of the Year 2011.

February – What’s in Season?

It may be white and cold outside but fresh in from the veg patch is nothing but colour.  This months’ fresh produce is just full of yellows, oranges, purples and reds, it’s enough to will the sunshine back!

Season Citrus Fruit from Outside the UK

Seasonal Citrus Fruit from Outside the UK

The list of what’s good right now, from Farmer’s Choice, is surprisingly long:


Bananas*, Blood Oranges*, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage (red, white, green and Savoy), Cavolo Nero and Curly Kale, Celeriac, Chicory, Leeks, Lemons*, Limes*, Onions, Oranges*, Parsnips, Pineapple*, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Satsumas, Spring Greens, Swede

*In Season but not grown in the UK

Colourful Seasonal Veggies grown in the UK

Colourful Seasonal Fruit and Vegetables

Fish and Game:

Crab, Haddock, Hake, Mackerel, Scallops, Rabbit, Turkey and Venison

How about some Simply cooked Hake with garlic butter on a bed of steamed curly kale or …Braised Venison with a warming Chilli and Chocolate Sauce…this can be eaten as a stew (just add potatoes or parsnips) or as a luxurious healthy cottage pie, top with mashed sweet potato.

Seasonal Braised Venison

Braised Venison

Lovely Low Fat, Low Calorie, Easy recipe that is full of flavour and good for you!

Take a look through our pages and enjoy eating the seasons.

Avoid Food Poisoning from Chicken

Who would have thought the chicken could cause so much upset….stored in the wrong conditions, not cooked properly, cross contamination, the list goes on. Last year alone hundreds of thousands of people in the UK got food poisoning from chickens (extract from report by Tom Heap on Countryfile on BBC 1 25th January 2015).

A survey carried out by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) previously found that almost three fifths of shop bought fresh chickens tested positive for campylobacter.

Don't play chicken roulette

Don’t play chicken roulette

At Farmer’s Choice we FREEZE all our meat. Freezing does not harm the chicken (or any other meat product) it preserves the meat, nutrition, texture and freshness. “Freezing is a proven effective intervention to control campylobacter contamination of poultry meat (extract taken from

A free range chicken is much more like a wild bird, in that it has much more meat on the legs than an indoor bird, largely due to the fact that it is able to roam around at will. The flavour will be more intense due to the diet – more natural habitual pecking.

All this chicken goodness can be enjoyed if you refresh yourself with the steps to safely cook a chicken.

  • If properly packaged, frozen chicken will maintain top quality in a home freezer for up to 1 year. Be Aware – Freezing cannot reduce the number of bacteria naturally found in chickens. Freezing foods renders bacteria inactive but doesn’t actually kill anything. That means if your food went into the freezer contaminated, once thawed it will still harbour the same harmful bacteria.
  • Thaw chicken in the refrigerator — not on the countertop or in cold water (Did you know that washing a chicken does not remove the bacteria, it can actually spread the bacteria. Spray from washing a chicken can travel up to 3 ft. That’s a lot of contamination area! It takes about 24 hours to thaw a 4-pound chicken in the refrigerator. Cut-up parts, 3 to 9 hours.
  • Chicken may be safely thawed in cold water. Place chicken in its original wrap or water-tight plastic bag in cold water. Change water often. It takes about 2 hours to thaw a whole chicken.
  • Always wash hands, countertops, cutting boards, knives and other utensils used in preparing raw chicken with soapy water before they come in contact with other raw or cooked foods.
  • Free-range meat is lean, and that means that slower cooking times yield better results. Slow and low brings about a sublime roasted free-range chicken, where it could make a conventional one soggy and overdone.
  • Skinless Breasts – Free-range chicken breasts are so moist and tenderly textured if they are done right!  Here’s the Rules… Hot sear (pan-fry with butter or oiled BBQ) for 2 minutes per side …and then in to a 120ºC oven (convection if you have it) for 20 minutes.  It doesn’t get any better than this!!
  • Leg and Thighs – you should get consistent results if you cook like this… season, lay skin-side up and uncovered, then just bake (convection) at 175ºC for 2 hours. The skin crisps up so nice and the meat is SO tender and delicious!
Farmer's Choice Free Range Chicken

Farmer’s Choice Free Range Chicken

Our chickens are not pimped when packed which may make them look a little flat, and if you are lucky enough, you might even get a left over feather or two.

Be safe and Enjoy!

Burns Night Supper

Robert Burns

Robert Burns

SCOTLAND’S National Bard, Robert Burns was born in Alloway near Ayr on 25th January 1759 to William Burness, a poor tenant farmer, and Agnes Broun, Robert Burns was the eldest of seven.

In 1785 Burns was a guest at a Haggis Club in Kilmarnock where five lawyers met for dinner. When asked to say grace he instead chose to address the haggis.

The following year the poem was completed and the ‘Address to a Haggis‘ became the first Burns poem to be published in a newspaper when it appeared in the Caledonian Mercury of 20th December 1786.

On the fifth anniversary of Robert Burns’ death nine Ayrshire gentlemen sat down in Alloway to what is now regarded as the first ever Burns Supper. The assembled dined on good Scottish fayre and haggis. They recited the ‘Address to a Haggis‘ and drunk several toasts.

The company agreed to meet in January of the next year to commemorate the poet’s birth and so evolved the custom of Burns Suppers held annually on 25th January.

Sliced, uncooked Haggis

Sliced, uncooked Haggis

The formal procedure for the ‘Address to a Haggis’ would be for a piper to lead the procession carrying the haggis to the dinner table. The cook would carry the haggis on a hot dish followed by the person entrusted with the recitation. After the address all three would be offered a glass of whisky and everyone would stand to toast ‘The Haggis’.

Even if you do not have a resident piper!! you are invited to join in this celebration. No matter how small your gathering take time to address the haggis. If you have no volunteers, pass the verse around and have everyone participate for a verse.

During the third verse, at line two the person addressing the haggis would insert a knife into the top of the haggis, breaking open the haggis and releasing the steam and ‘reek’. Scoop out the haggis and enjoy what has become Scotland’s national dish served with mashed potatoes and turnip.

Haggis Neeps and Tatties

Haggis Neeps and Tatties

Address To The Haggis

haggis poem

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.
Or…if that’s too much of a mouthful, here is the translationFair and full is your honest, jolly face,
Great chieftain of the sausage race!
Above them all you take your place,
Stomach, tripe, or intestines:
Well are you worthy of a grace
As long as my arm.
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.
The groaning trencher there you fill,
Your buttocks like a distant hill,
Your pin would help to mend a mill
In time of need,
While through your pores the dews distill
Like amber bead.
His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!
His knife see rustic Labour wipe,
And cut you up with ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like any ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm steaming, rich!
Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
‘Bethankit’ hums.
Then spoon for spoon, the stretch and strive:
Devil take the hindmost, on they drive,
Till all their well swollen bellies by-and-by
Are bent like drums;
Then old head of the table, most like to burst,
‘The grace!’ hums
Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?
Is there that over his French ragout,
Or olio that would sicken a sow,
Or fricassee would make her vomit
With perfect disgust,
Looks down with sneering, scornful view
On such a dinner?
Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Poor devil! see him over his trash,
As feeble as a withere