Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My personal food project: Harris Angus

I have a project to source as much of my food as possible from farms that are local and that I know have agricultural and animal husbandry practices that I support.  This means farms that have sustainable environmental practices i.e. they focus on building the health of the soil and biodiversity, rather than using pesticides, fertiliser and patented hybrid seeds. It is also very important to me that the animals that I eat have a good life, are ideally heritage breeds, are fed only the kind of food that they are evolved to eat, and given the chance to move and express themselves fully. As I write that I imagine animals singing and dancing, but even though my criterion are fairly demanding, I don't go that far.

It's an ongoing project and I'm always really happy when I meet a new farmer to buy from.

A few weeks ago I met Shane Harris from Harris Angus. Shane is a fifth generation farmer and breeds and sells cattle and sheep from his South Gippsland farm.  Shane controls every part of the process, from the breeding right through to the butchering (one of the ways he supplies is through his own butcher shop).  I asked about how the animals are killed and he said that they go to an abattoir about 40km away.

One of the things I love about where the country house is located amongst the rolling green hills of Gippsland, are the cattle.  This pic was taken by my friend Nines, just up the road from my house.

Shane is passionate about breeding and told me that if it is done well there needs to be very little intervention in the rest of an animal's life: mothers can birth on their own and the animals are born and stay healthy and strong. 

His animals eat only grass, which he also told me he leaves to grow naturally. He said that if grass is stimulated with fertiliser it grows quickly but is low in nutrient, which ultimately impacts an animal's health. His sheep and cattle are completely grass-fed.

I'm really happy to have a supplier of beef and lamb that I am comfortable with. And, also importantly,  Shane's beef and lamb are both delicious.