Christmas turkeys have arrived…..

But every day I run around like a headless chicken on a rollercoaster, dealing with constantly rising costs

Just when industries started picking themselves back up after COVID and Brexit, we find ourselves back to square one with the energy cost. Even after the new measures from the Government, its still madness trying to make things work.

After the pandemic, everyone was desperate to socialise and get back to some sort of normality and now people can’t afford to go out. It is inevitable that consumers will cut back on spending, but I hope shoppers will focus on better quality food.

In 2012, we started up our own butchery here on the family farm. I managed to persuade my husband James to let me have an old redundant shed in the farmyard and set about converting it into what is now Rawston Farm Butchery. The farm shop then came along a couple of years later when the general public started turning up and asking to buy our meat for their homes and families.

We always support British meat. The butchery beef all comes from our own farm, the pork and lamb comes from Crib Farm in nearby Sturminster Newton and the chicken and duck is from Creedy Carver who are poultry farmers based in neighbouring Devon.

The year I started the butchery was the same time the horse meat scandal happened, but it was only during Covid that I found out the length people had been going to in importing it and disguising the fact that it was horse meat. It was wrapped and presented as beef (it’s shocking and very scary that we don’t know what’s in a lot of the food on the supermarket shelves!)

Christmas is coming and this year’s turkeys have arrived here at the Farm. We always rear some Christmas turkeys for our customers’ tables at home as well as buying and supporting other local turkey producers for our pub & restaurant. It is so important for us to know where all our meat and food products are coming from, if we’re going to eat and serve with pride.

I was horrified the other day when I was serving a delicious buffet for an 80th birthday lunch at my pub and a lady guest refused our local home reared turkey. She progressed to telling me that she didn’t eat turkey or chicken because it was full of antibiotics and growth hormones (antibiotics are only used if animals are sick). I had to firmly explain to her that this turkey was 100% home-reared and it certainly didn’t contain any hormones or antibiotics!

Here in England our British farmers are not allowed to give hormonal growth promoters to animals and only give antibiotics when an animal is sick so always check food labels when buying your meat. Checking its origin and making sure it’s been produced here in the UK is essential as our British farmers have far higher standards than nearly every other country in the world.

I’m sorry to use the word Christmas again as I know it’s still early, but British poultry is going to be at a premium this festive season. It will be a challenging time for the poultry farmers this winter with the electricity and grain prices still being very unsteady. There is ongoing instability in the world market due to a whole combination of factors including the Ukraine war, climate change (some countries had failed crops because of drought), a severe lack of labour and of course, the avian flu virus which is still a major problem with regular outbreaks occurring here in Britain.

I know people might think British produce is more expensive but buying imported food won’t help our UK farmers to survive, plus our food standards are so much higher here at home. I was horrified to read in Farmers Weekly that our government is looking to sign us into a trade deal with India. Yes, we already import rice, grain, exotic vegetables & fruits from there, but we don’t need to be increasing these imports, especially as their food standards are much lower and they are still allowed to use a lot of sprays and pesticides that have been banned in our homelands.

So please support local if you possibly can, every purchase helps support our local food producers, farmers and fishermen for now and the future. If you are lucky enough to have a local poultry farmer or good local butcher then buy your turkey and extras from them and get your Christmas order in early. It will all help.