If you buy your meat at the supermarket you can clearly see where the meat has come from. Plain meat with no sauces or “value added” to the package. If you go to a decent supermarket, you’ll be able to see which farm reared the animal that the meat is from, or which county it’s from. That makes it really easy for those of us who go into the shops to choose whether or not we want to buy Irish meat.
Irish meat labelling can be confusing but at least you can be confident that if you buy a whole Irish chicken in a supermarket that it’s been raised on the island and within the 32 counties. It’s peace of mind you want to support Irish producers and normally a great guarantee of quality.
I buy my meat from a local butcher. He’s a Craft Butcher and this is meant to suggest that the butcher is top of his craft and you can be sure of great service when you purchase from him. I know that he has an Irish-Only policy and any meat I buy from him is Irish.
ACBI encourages consumers to look for the CraftButcher logo to be sure of having the very best, traceable, traditionally prepared meat available. Meat from a Craft Butcher is sourced, slaughtered and prepared locally and so reduces Food Miles (helping our carbon footprint), and also eliminating stress to the animals. Transporting animals long distances before slaughter has a detrimental effect on the meat quality. By supporting your local Craft Butcher you can be sure of the highest quality produce.
There’s another local butcher who is also a Craft Butcher. Their shop is brightly lit and clean, it looks great from the outside. There are huge signs facing out saying positive things like “Irish Lamb” and “Quality Irish Beef”. From the outside it looks fantastic.
There are no signs on their chicken or chicken products about the origin. Nor are there signs on most of their pork products including ham and bacon products like ribs and sausages.
So I asked where their meat came from.
Go figure, the majority of their pork and chicken products are not Irish in origin. Yet they carry the Craft Butcher logo.
It’s not the only butcher in my County that doesn’t display origin on all their meat even though they are affiliated with a great organisation. It’s deceptive because they’re omitting where the meat has come from.
If you’re not confident that the meat you’re being sold is Irish, then ask.
Bord Bia have a scheme for restaurants called ‘Just Ask‘:
Just Ask! is a public awareness campaign that aims to encourage consumers when eating out to look for information on where the food (particularly meat) on their plate comes from and to encourage chefs to provide this information on their menus. With so many fantastic and great value restaurants right on your doorstep, eating out is still on the menu.
I’d love to see this rolled out for butchers nationwide because it may be the encouragement that some craft butchers need to display the information more prominently. It would also be a chance to commend those who are outstanding in their field.