Sunday, 5 May 2013

I promise no puns...

As the horse meat (isn't it - is it?) scandal starts to peter out a little, focus can return to what we already knew. Your butcher knows best. Numerous campaigns across social media networks have been in full flow for many years as Tesco and other such monolith corporations have gained momentum and the high street has continued to suffer. 'Local produce is too expensive' and other such diatribes have incurred much gnashing of teeth and perpetual frustration.

Personally, I don't have as big a problem as many do with supermarket chains. They serve a purpose and wouldn't be successful if they weren't doing something right. I frequent various ones regularly as there are often ingredients required for a recipe that I just can't get round the corner and are often reasonably priced. It is the automatic dismissal by so many of the high street for unfounded reasons that irks.

My local butcher in Harsthill is brilliant. Fact. Having lived in the area for several years now, I shuffle in bleary eyed most Saturday mornings to collect my bounty of ox cheeks, pigs cheeks, lamb and mint burgers, oatcakes, fresh veg, duck eggs...repeat to fade. As the recent 'What is in my burger?' debate has raged on, one thing has remained constant. Richard Holloway has continued to supply my ever employed kitchen with the highest quality produce without battering my wallet.

Richard, a butcher of some 26 years now (since he was 15 - you do the maths) sources all his product from local reputable suppliers within a 50 mile radius of the shop - most from Green Farm at Caverswall - as well as making burgers and sausages on the premises. He keeps up with product knowledge, listens to what his customer wants and checks prices at the butchery department at supermarkets. He believes 90% of the time he is cheaper than any mainstream seller and if he isn't, he is offering a superior product. Many of the bargains available in the big chains may at first appear to be a great offer. Yet when you check weights and other factors they aren't - far from it.

The furore around content has had a positive affect on sales and he has new customers making the trip to Hartshill based on recommendations from his loyal customers. And importantly, he can guarantee where what he is selling came from and what animal it contains.

Having read the news stories, watched the debates unfold and now seeing people at the check out buy what they always did, nothing has changed. The outcry may have subsided and the norm is restored. But if you haven't been to your local butcher for a while...err...why?

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