Mark and I had both lived in Leeds for the majority of our lives, that was until we got married. House prices were too expensive in our area so we looked a little further afield. After much searching, we found the perfect little house in Castleford. Now, it’s not the most affluent area due to the collapse of the mining industry but, being part of the five towns (Castleford, Pontefract, Knottingley, Normanton and Featherstone) we’re surrounded by agricultural farm land.
One of the farm shops local to us is Farmer Copley’s in Featherstone, which has an impressive array of awards including “Best Farm shop in Great Britain 2009/2010”
As you can see, it is quite an impressive building. It has been extended since we started visiting three and a half years ago. With the extension, they have a children’s play area with small plastic ride-on tractors, a new cafe called “Moo” which sells hot drinks, cakes, hot and cold sandwiches etc. I’ve had lunch there and the food is excellent.
The shop sells a variety of local produce (local to Yorkshire) including beer from Copper Dragon, wine from Leventhorpe, cheese, chutney, jams, and vinegar from Wormersley etc and is beautifully presented.
The main ethos of the shop is that it prides itself on the quality of its produce and that all of the meat is locally sourced. The beef is reared free range by Rob Copley. His website explains that he’s chosen specific breeds to ensure that the meat is of the highest standard. This shows in the price. It really is significantly higher than the supermarket. I bought some top side beef which was just under £12.00/kg with the local supermarket being £8.00/kg. The big difference is, I know exactly where the meat came from, that it’s free range and has been hung for 21 days. I think that we’re used to eating cheap meat in this country. I spoke to my mum about it, she said that she didn’t have nearly as much meat in her diet when she was young because of the cost, but it changed when supermarkets became popular and people stopped buying from the local butcher.
Also people are buying “expensive cuts” of meat on a regular basis and not using their imagination with cooking to purchase cheaper cuts of meat from an animal that has been well cared for. I suppose we live for convenience. I think if we want that, then we really need to consider the practices of intensively farmed animals. I’m a realist, I’m guilty of buying two chickens for £7 but I would never dream of not buying free range eggs! It’s difficult with country coming out of recession, being on maternity leave but, it does feel good when you’re eating meat that has been well cared for. Is it better, that we all do a little bit to work towards improving animal welfare, or that a few do everything? It might just be hypocrisy, but it makes me feel better if I do a bit when I can.
The only question I had, was about the way they label the standard of the animal eg free range, freedom food etc. Their website says that some of the chickens “are locally produced and well looked after” I asked what it meant. They said it was higher than RSPCA Freedom Food standard but not free range. I thinks it’s misleading to the consumer if you’re selling free range and none free range together and it’s not clearly explained what “well looked after” means. I think there might be the misconception that it’s all free range. I also expect that if I’m buying a small chicken for £6 that it’s free range further fuelling the misconception. I also think for a company that prides itself on locally sourcing meat, it should be labelled which farm the meat came from.
Despite that, the beef was delicious, you could taste the quality. We also bought sausages, at the moment they’re my favourite, high meat content and perfectly seasoned. However, I will soon be visiting Swillington farm which is the equal distance from me as Farmer Copley’s and specialises in free range organic meat. I’ve checked their prices which are marginally higher. But I imagine that’s expected with organic meat. I just wonder if some of the prices of Farmer Copley’s are driven by overheads rather than the welfare of the animals. I’m looking forward to see if I can taste the difference (pun not intended!)