I am sure nearly everyone would love to say 'we know EXACTLY where our food has come from, every last morsel, from the ham in the fridge and the steak in the freezer, right down to the wheat that goes into our bread and the rutabaga in the jar of Branston pickle' (why they can't just call it swede like the rest of us I do not know). The reality though, is that it is just simply not possible. There are so many components in the average daily diet that one will never know where every ingredient came from. We just have to trust that the food processors and manufacturers are sourcing their ingredients responsibly, with fairness in mind to the producers.
There are also assurance schemes, which do offer the consumer some peace of mind when buying their food that it has been produced in a way that they would prefer. The Fairtrade Foundation have had great successes with cocoa, vanilla, bananas and many more foodstuffs in ensuring farmers in developing nations are receiving a fair price for their produce.
Huge success was also realised by a scheme that started in November 1998. The generation gap means many younger shoppers wouldn't have a clue why a small red lion is stamped onto most shop-bought eggs today. In fact, this scheme has 'effectively eradicated' Salmonella Enteritidis in British eggs since its introduction. In 2004, Health Protection Agency (HPA) tests, carried out on imported eggs, found nearly 7% tested positive for Salmonella. In the same HPA investigation, Salmonella was not recovered from any British Lion eggs.
More commonly known now though, is probably the little red tractor.
The Red Tractor Farm Assurance schemes cover six sectors; beef and lamb, dairy, pigs, poultry, combinable crops and sugar beet, and fresh produce. Here at Buckmoorend Farm we are members of the beef and lamb and combinable crops sectors. This isn't to say we simply sign a document confirming we rear our animals in a responsible fashion. That would be far too easy - for consumers to have faith in these logos and schemes they need to be robustly regulated. As such, we have had our inspection this very week, which I am pleased to say we passed without trouble.
So, if you ever see that logo on a fresh joint of beef, or even on a ready meal that contains farm assured beef or lamb, you may wonder exactly how is it assured? Well, the criteria is lengthy (the standards document is 98 pages), and the inspections long and arduous. Simply put, they delve into all aspects of the farm, such as: -