Unless you’ve had your head in a sack for the past few months, you’ve probably heard that British pig farmers are having a tough time of it. Increasing feed costs, not matched by increases in the price they can achieve for the pork they produce, are crippling, and there is a real possibility that many farmers will go our of business and the pork herd in this country will be further reduced. Which simply opens the door to more imported pork which has almost certainly been reared to lower welfare standards than here in the UK.
So, while food festivals like Flavours of Herefordshire are mostly about tasting, trying and buying, they are also a great forum to spread the word about such an important issue to people who, by their very attendance, are clearly interested in knowing more about what they eat.
Support for the pig farmers’ cause comes from an obvious, but perhaps unexpected quarter – pig farmers’ wives. Several have banded together to form ‘Ladies in Pigs’ (L.I.P.), and a formidable, persuasive lot they are. Their message is simple and clear: make sure the pork you buy is British, and the simplest way to do so is look out for the Red Tractor symbol. The Red Tractor assurance programme ensures that the product has been assured all the way through from farm to the point at which you buy it. Don’t be fooled by a union Jack flag alone – that could simply mean the product is processed in the UK using pork from elsewhere, and that doesn’t help UK pig farmers one jot. Which is why Sainsbury’s recent decision to do away with the Red Tractor on its own products will cause nothing but confusion…and allow them, perish the thought that they might want to, to be less than totally transparent about the origin of their meat.
At the show, the ladies were doing a grand job. No hard luck stories. No muddying waters or knocking others. Just the facts. And the facts are powerful. Unless you are buying directly from a farm or a butcher that you know and can absolutely trust, if you want to support British pig farmers and you want to be sure you’re buying British pork, choose Red Tractor.