To Meat or not to Meat?

Every day there seems to be something in the Media about eating meat. We are being encouraged to eat less meat (IPCC Report 2019) to reduce carbon and methane emissions. But reducing Co2 is so much more complicated. Emissions from rearing animals, particularly cattle for meat and dairy consumption may account for some 14% of the total created by us. This is an international figure though, and may not be true for the UK.

If you saw the BBC documentary on Monday 25th November, “Meat, a Threat to our Planet”, you may have been put off eating meat ever again. It was horrific to see vast herds of cattle and huge numbers of intensive pig farms which feed the American appetite for meat, and the ecological consequences of this. It is shocking to see farmers burning Amazon rainforest so that they can rear beef cattle, and the precious Sierra in Brazil being turned over to grain to feed these animals. Industrial scale “factory” farming like this produces cheaper meat and it is this that we need to stop eating. So let’s not eat meat from America or Brazil, but let’s continue to support our local meat producers. Our carbon footprint and farming practice is nothing like that of the Americas. Small scale pasture-reared meat is high in nutritional value and low in carbon footprint.

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“Food” – A Book Group

Food is something we are all interested in. But how does it get to our table? Ledbury Food Group introduces its new Book Group on Thursday 17th January at 7pm. It’s an opportunity for us to “chew the cud” over some of the themes of current books relating to our food, finding out about the joys and challenges farmers face and the history of production. Books such as “The Secret Life of Cows”, forwarded by Alan Bennett, which appeared last year are full of discussion topics. The author Rosamund Young came to Ledbury in March to talk about it. Her introduction explores traditional and commercial farming and the book features hilarious anecdotes about her experiences rearing cows.

“Pig” is the new book on the block. Written by Helen Browning, pig farmer and chief executive of the Soil Association, “Pig” is the first book I would like to introduce the Food-Book Group to. Helen has been invited to Ledbury in April to talk about her farming experiences, and undoubtedly sustainable farming and food production as well. Continue reading ““Food” – A Book Group”

“Feast and Make Merry” The Traditional Harvest Supper

At this time of year, farms and villages throughout Britain are celebrating the Harvest “safely gathered in”. Traditionally, this was an opportunity for farmers, farm labourers and their families to get together at the end of the harvest, loading the tables with abundant produce, washing it down with home made beer and cider and making merry with music and dancing. You probably recognise such scenes from Thomas Hardy novels.

Here in Herefordshire the tradition continues in villages around the county, often associated with a Church harvest service. But, it is not so often that town and city dwellers get the opportunity to join in such a farm celebration. Continue reading ““Feast and Make Merry” The Traditional Harvest Supper”

A Ledbury Farming Year 2015-16 Slideshow Now Available

Andrew Powers feeding new born lamb

Ledbury Food Group’s website now features a slide show of photographs from our exhibition “A Ledbury Farming Year 2015-16”

This 6 minute presentation tells the story, in photographs and sound effects, of a year in the working life of two independent producers just 2 miles from Ledbury in Little Marcle: sheep farmer Andrew Powers of Marcle Farming and organic vegetable grower John Davenport, owner of Little Marcle Farm Shop. Continue reading “A Ledbury Farming Year 2015-16 Slideshow Now Available”

Introducing ‘A Farming Year at Bentley’s Castle Fruit Farm’

Apples in frost at Castle Fruit Farm by Pat Strauss
Apples in frost at Castle Fruit Farm by Pat Strauss

The Ledbury Food Group would like to introduce its second Photography Project in the “Ledbury Farming Year” series. The purpose of these projects is to get an inside view of the workings of farms and producers in our area, so that we can relate more directly to them and understand the challenges and rewards facing the people who bring food to our tables. This year we will be featuring Bentleys Castle Fruit Farm near Dymock, and looking at not only the orchards, but at some of the issues facing a small commercial farm. As well as selling their fruit wholesale, it is sold at Jenkins greengrocers and seasonally at the Saturday market in Ledbury, the monthly produce market in Kempley and at food fairs in and around Ledbury. Continue reading “Introducing ‘A Farming Year at Bentley’s Castle Fruit Farm’”

Winter Squash Recipes

I have had a wonderful crop of winter squash this year. They were slow to start with loads of flowers ( Turkoman Squash flowers are perfumed!) but no fruit til July, then each plant set one fruit. Crown and Turkoman squash grew well, but I don’t succeed with Butternut. The trick is good moist and warm soil – a compost heap is ideal ( a friend had huge plants and several fruits per plant on hers), but I did well in well manured soil and plenty of watering.

Winter Squash 2 (Medium)

So what to do with them?

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The Mayor’s Christmas Hamper

Mayor Phil Bettington asked the Ledbury Food Group to create a couple of Christmas hampers using local food and drink for St Michaels Hospice and to raise money for the Christmas Lights. I shopped up and down Ledbury high street on behalf of the Ledbury Food Group looking for the sort of goodies I would like to receive as Christmas presents. The Three Counties Cider shop sells hampers so you can make up your own – and choose cider and juice at the same time.

I found mulberry jam and blackcurrant leaf (yes leaf) cordial from Handley Organics. They are made from Caroline Handley’s own fruit bushes. The cordial tastes of blackcurrant but is lighter and slightly herby. Kaye at Four Oaks makes chilli jam and chutneys and Wallers Butchers sell Three Counties Gourmet mustard. I bought pickled onions from Jenkins the Greengrocers and honey from Gladwyn James. At Llandinabo Butchers most produce is local, they have lots of game at the moment and their eggs and pork pies are excellent, but perhaps not for a hamper. The Cider shop supplied some of Frank’s fabulous biscuits as well as pear juice.

Of course we have our own chocolatier at Celebrations and I chose chocolate covered mandarins with a Chrismassy taste. Gurneys Butchers has lots of fine local meats and Spar sells local drinks, cakes and vegetables. Hay Wines have an excellent range of local beers, ciders and wines and gave us some Dorothy’s Christmas Ale as a festive addition to the hamper. Ceci Paulo deli is of course continental, but their bread and several cheeses are local. They provided Tyrrells crisps for us.

So think about shopping in Ledbury and making up hampers for food loving friends.