The true value of honest food labelling

I’ve been so pleased that the articles that we’ve written recently have been published and shared with the wider Dorset community and also been so well received by local farmers.

Back in 2012 I set our butchery up here at Rawston Farm. I was so fed up of only being able to find poor quality meat that as farmers with our own beef animals who graze on the lush grass here in the Tarrant Valley, it seemed utterly crazy not to change the situation.

Just before I opened the doors of the butchery the many stories of the horse meat scandal hit the UK press. Cheap imported European horse meat had been flooding our markets and going into our food chain (nothing wrong with eating horse meat, it’s on the plates of many European countries but we need to know what we’re eating!) The problem was that whoever was importing it was going to great lengths to disguise it as something else in order to get it into our country. It was wrapped and presented as beef to deceive the British consumer and the only reason something was picked up as wrong was when they discovered the horse pain relief “bute” in there. I used to give this to my ponies when they went lame!

And this is probably only one example of some of the many foods that are coming into our country with no checks made and no proper labelling declaring their properties and their origin.

This week I was talking to a journalist and telling her the story of our poor British farmers and the challenges with their oil seed rape crops. A couple of years ago our farmers were stopped from using a pesticide on their oilseed that killed the black beetle that eats the young plants and destroys the crops. This pesticide used was said to be harmful to our bees and quite rightly we don’t want to harm our beautiful bees. However, not so for foreign oilseed rape it seemed. Other countries were still allowed to import it from Europe and further afield even though they had been using this same pesticide that our British farmers were now not allowed to use. Where is the sense in that?

British farmers have the highest standard of farming in the world this is proven over and over again. We need to stand by them and support their efforts to feed all of us here in Dorset and beyond with wonderful, home-grown food that hasn’t flown loads of miles and is good for both the plate and the environment.

Having tired of all of this, in 2018 we set about creating our very own food label created by farmers for farmers & food producers in Dorset. We use the Dorset flag so that the local public know that the food has been produced in their own county.

With Dorset leading the way, we have approximately 45 county flags in the UK and we are rolling out the Love Local Trust Local food label and movement to the rest of the country.

It is so important that people start recognising these flags so that they know what’s growing and produced in their own county. Each regional soil type is different and it’s important to the areas we live in that we grow what suits it and works most efficiently. Did you know that Worcestershire is great for asparagus or that Kent is the home of British apples & cherries or that Dorset and Hampshire have some of the best dairy herds for supplying us our milk or that East Anglia offers the best soil type for growing wheat & barley and that the lowlands of Scotland are wonderful for grain and sugar beet? And I could go on. It’s not a one size fits all and the more that we understand about our country and our counties and what they can offer our families to eat and drink, the better for our health and our purses.

It’s all about education. The more we know about what we are feeding ourselves the better prepared we are. Education is key. Let’s support our British and county farmers.