Let’s celebrate our local, high-welfare livestock farms. Try these five top-quality East Midlands meat producers

“Eating meat & dairy is bad for you and the planet.”

That’s the misleading message put out by many commentators and social-media influencers in 2020. There are many problems with this black-and-white idea, and one of the biggest is that it does not distinguish between industrial meat production and sustainable, high-quality, small-scale livestock farming.

At Great Food Club, we believe it’s vital to separate the two.

Industrial-scale livestock farming puts animals in often-atrocious conditions, relies on chemicals and damages the environment because it is driven entirely by profit.

Small-scale livestock farming is different. It prioritises animal welfare, uses environmentally sustainable methods, and results in high-quality meat. Moreover, most experts believe that it’s healthy – both for us and our planet – to eat sensible quantities of meat raised by local, sustainable, high-welfare farms.

Patrick Holden, founding director of the Sustainable Foods Trust, says in this article: “We need to align our diets with… the region where we live. What the [recent UN report into climate change] actually recommends is to move towards the consumption of meat from sustainable farming systems. That should be the key debate now. We should all be thinking about the answer to the question: what should you eat to be sustainable and healthy?”

At Great Food Club, we showcase several high-welfare meat producers in our online guide.

Below are five of the best to seek out in Rutland, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire.

1) Tori & Ben’s Farm, Kings Newton, Derbyshire

Ben Stanley with his Longhorns

Farming couple Tori and Ben Stanley raise Longhorn beef and prize-winning Jacob lamb, which they sell in their farm shop and butchery in Kings Newton, Derbyshire. Ben says: “Our pledge is to keep investing in the environment while producing the best sustainable, great-tasting, grass-fed beef and lamb in its most natural environment.” Tori and Ben have won many awards for their livestock and aim to “get the most out of every animal, focusing on quality, not quantity”.

Find out more.

Beef on sale at Tori & Ben’s Farm Shop

2) Northfield Farm, Cold Overton, Rutland

Leo McCourt at Northfield Farm

Northfield Farm near Cold Overton raises animals for the meat sold in its on-site farm shop and also at Borough Market. Its livestock graze on grass for eight months of the year, wintering in barns on farm-produced silage and haylage. “We maintain high-health herds,” says farmer Leo McCourt. “Regular blood tests check for health and means animals can be treated individually as needed. Contented animals contribute to beautiful countryside and excellent-quality meat.”

Find out more.

3) Redhill Farm Free Range Pork, Gainsborough, Lincolnshire

Jane Tomlinson photographed at Redhill Farm

Redhill Farm Free Range Pork is two-time Great Food Club Food Producer of the Year. For the past 20 years, owners Terry & Jane Tomlinson have based their small, ethical farming business around the highest levels of animal welfare. Jane says: “We’ve always advocated eating less meat less often, but buying the best possible quality produce you can find. We also believe in cooking meals from scratch to make it more affordable, savouring the meat and knowing you’ve made the most of it – then you certainly won’t waste it”.

Find out more.

4) March House Farm, Great Dalby, Leicestershire

March House Farm’s cows are put out to grass

March House Farm of Leicestershire produces lamb & hogget, pork and beef. Heather and Mike Belcher and their team raise pasture-fed animals at Great Dalby near Melton Mowbray. They keep their livestock to the highest possible welfare standards and the resulting meat is slaughtered nearby and butchered on-site. It is then sold in March House Farm Shop and at farmers’ markets. This is farming where provenance, quality and welfare are vital.

Find out more.

March House sheep near Mount St Bernard’s Abbey

5) Home Farm Produce, Grove, Nottinghamshire

Cattle at Home Farm in Grove, Nottinghamshire

Home Farm Produce is a small, 350-acre farm consisting of permanent pasture, arable land, small ponds and woodland. Paula Wood and Matthew Heald raise their prize-winning cattle and pigs slowly and naturally in family groups. Their rare-breed pigs live outside in woodland for their entire lives – an environment in which they are able to display their natural behaviour. Home Farm was a finalist in the Great Food Club Awards 2020.

Find out more.

In conclusion

If you’re a carnivore, it’s useful to distinguish between ‘good’ meat – the stuff raised by high-welfare, small, local producers – and ‘bad’ meat – that raised via industrial methods. The first is healthy and sustainable, the other is not.

Therefore, if and when you do decide to eat meat, it’s wise to support your local, high-welfare producers.

The author:

Matt lives in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. He is passionate about the independent food & drink sector and founded Great Food Club in 2010 after being inspired by local producers near his home town.