The difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic have caused us to change many of the ways we do things, including our shopping habits. Throughout the lockdowns, our usual supermarkets have been enforcing social distancing rules, while home grocery deliveries have varied widely in their availability, which has led many of us to search for other options.
The good news is that there is a fantastic array of independent food and drink producers working in the UK to bring the best of English produce direct to our homes. Within this thriving new industry, one of the most successful sectors is in home meat deliveries. A combination of factors, including an increased awareness of the harm that the global meat industry is doing to the environment has led to a demand for more locally produced meat products, and English producers have been responding.
The new wave of meat producers have turned away from mass production and are focused on organic, sustainable forms of production. And for consumers this is excellent news as the meat that is produced using these methods is usually better tasting.
For instance, it is well known that free-range and organic chickens have a richer taste on the plate because the animals have had the chance to develop good muscles through enjoying a healthier lifestyle, which is based around natural feed and free from the routine use of antibiotics.
The same result is seen in the case of free-roaming, pasture-fed cows. Cows are genetically predisposed to forage rather than to feed from a trough, and free range beef is higher in Vitamin E than mass produced alternatives, offering more protection against toxins and neurological diseases.
Sheep benefit from the same type of organic, natural treatment, being able to roam free on hillsides, while free range pigs, which are raised without drugs such as antibiotics and wormers that are commonly found in intensive farming, produce a taste that is a completely different to the often bland meat products available in your usual local supermarket.
Modern organic English meat producers, with their focus on sustainable methods of rearing, and environmentally friendly practices are increasingly finding ways to supply a huge variety of meats, both fresh and frozen, to suit every taste preference. To point your way to some of the best that home delivery meat producers have to offer, here are some of the best suppliers in 2021:
Field and Flower
Field and Flower, based in Somerset, is a free-range meat producer that operates a subscription service. The service provides a comprehensive range of meat products, which includes everything from pork sausages to teriyaki marinated beef skewers. Customers who want to enjoy the best of their products have to confirm their order at least four days prior to delivery and all cuts of meat are butchered to order. Sausages and burgers, meanwhile, are produced the day before they are delivered. It is also worth noting that excess meat is sent to a local charity feeding vulnerable people.
Knepp Wild Meat
Knepp Wild Range Meat is a meat producer in West Sussex and they offer a popular build-your-own meat box system. Their meat is drawn from the animals kept on the beautiful 3,500-acre Knepp estate, which has been effectively rewilded, providing a home to a careful selection of animals that were introduced onto the land before being largely left to their own devices.
There are no natural predators living on the Knepp land, and the venison, cattle and pigs are culled every year to produce an impressive array of free range meat, including everything from grassy steaks and fennel-scented sausages to beautifully marbled bacon. Their meat is full of flavour and nutritionally rich, and provides a distinctive take on the traditional meat producing process.
The Fosse Meadows chicken pack provides a good source of high quality poultry, taken from their stock of chickens, which live for 81 days, compared to roughly 35 days for the average supermarket chicken. This gives the chickens the space and time to grow at a natural rate, without the use of antibiotics and they are also able to forage in pesticide-free meadows. The result is a chicken that provides a firm texture and deep flavour, suitable for everything from a roast dinner to a salad.
Situated in Devon, Eversfield Organic provide a Family Meat Box that provides support for English farming and environmentally friendly practices, at an excellent price. This producer works with a network of local farmers and fishers to provide a variety of meats, vegetables and fish to households all over the country. Their beef and lamb is completely grass fed, while their chickens are processed on the farm where they are reared, which removes the need for additional travel time. All of their fresh fish is also caught with rod and line or through diving.
Primal Meats are specialists in supporting customers who are observing diets based on traditional thinking, such as Paleo, Keto, Wildervore. They believe that their tasty nutrient-rich meat, which is made up of 100% grass-fed animals from farms that practice regenerative land management, helps contribute towards cooling the planet, restoring our damaged ecosystems and providing global sustainable nutrition security. According to Primal, many of their customers are former vegetarians and vegans who are looking for the next most ethical option. Their monthly surprise box can be tailored to your needs, diet and preferences.
Based in Yorkshire, Rosewood Farm’s meat production has conservation at its heart. Launched in 1996, the farm is fully herbicide, pesticide and fertiliser free, and produces 100% grass-fed meat. Their meat packs a rich and full flavour and comes in a range of cuts of generous proportions. In addition, the farm commit to donating £1 of every box sold to a local conservation charity, while any surplus stock is donated to a local kitchen that serves the homeless.
Great Berwick Organics
If you think you know your steak, this is one meat provider that you definitely need to check out. Their meat box includes steaks cut from the lesser-known muscles such as the tri-tip (bottom sirloin); denver (front shoulder) and hangar (upper belly) Each offers something subtly unique to the seasoned palate, but they all pack a rich flavour.
Great Berwick specialise in the rearing of English Longhorn Cattle. These majestic-looking animals benefit from a 100% grass-fed diet and live a stress-free existence in fields near the River Severn. Their slow growth results in the attractive marbling of the meat, which is full of flavour.
Among the newer meat box schemes in England, this supplier was founded by a former vegetarian and a veteran of the English meat production industry. The Ethical Butcher has built up a network of farmers who employ regenerative agricultural techniques and who are able to demonstrate that they are running a carbon neutral or carbon negative farm. The Ethical Butcher lamb box is one of their most popular lines, and provides a variety of cuts of rich, flavour-packed lamb.
Cotswold Beef have built up an impressive reputation for producing tasty, generously sized beef that is good enough to eat on its own. The global beef industry is often criticised for their perceived negative impact on the environment, but Cotswold Beef are setting an example for others to follow. They work with a slow-growing native breed of cattle, and employ biodiversity at every stage, while their dry ageing process results in some wonderfully tasting meat.
Pipers Farm has scooped a whole host of accolades for its great tasting meat, including success at the Great Taste Awards. Based in Devon, the 50-acre family farm has been one of the market leaders in sustainably produced meat for more than 30 years. They work with a range of other family farms in the surrounding areas to provide wholesome food that has been grown with a respect for nature.
This is achieved by rearing slow growing, native breeds who thrive in low input environments; such as Red Ruby cows that are ideal for digesting the tough Exmoor grass and convert it into protein with zero inputs, as well as Hubbard chickens, Saddleback pigs and Suffolk Tup lambs. Piper’s Farm summer meat box is the ideal introduction to the riches of their range.