Opinion: Honest Burger is one I really relished

I put on my favourite T-shirt and the jeans with the least rural aroma, then set off with the team on a three-hour round-trip to Bristol, just for a burger.

As someone who takes sustainability seriously, this may not have been my finest hour, but I wasn’t going to miss it for the world.

In the 18 years I’ve been farming, we must have loaded and waved goodbye to around 10,000 fat cattle. By my calculations that’s enough for about 20 million portions of beef.

See also: Opinion – Single-interest thinking is bad for the countryside

About the author

Ian Farrant
Ian Farrant is a beef farmer from Herefordshire. His farm is part of a larger family partnership with dairy and arable enterprises. He’s exploring options for regenerative farming and is introducing new enterprises, including planting 6ha of hazelnut trees.
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Yet I’ve never, not even once, sat down with someone who has consumed our product and found out if they enjoyed it. 

However, this has now changed. As I sank my teeth into my first Honest Burger, I became surprisingly emotional.

Not because the phenomenal relish had now ruined my T-shirt, but because the beef had been reared, grown, and finished at Underley Farm. Our farm.

This was the very first time we had supplied a restaurant chain, and my excitement levels were only slightly tempered by the fear it might not live up to expectations. However, it was juicy, tender and tasted incredible. I was bursting with pride.

I would have been happy spending the rest of the day watching other customers enjoying their burgers, but that may have looked a tad creepy, so we headed back up the M5.

The void between consumers and farmers has become so large, the connection has as good as disappeared.

I’ve never viewed beef as a simple commodity. It’s far more personal than that.

From ensuring each calf gets a great start in life, to the day we get to open the paddock gates in spring, we dedicate our working lives to looking after these animals and providing them with a life we can be proud of.

Not only that, but we ensure the way in which they are produced has a positive impact on the local environment.

Supermarkets are now the bedrock of our price-driven food industry and have a huge amount to answer for.

The marketing of meat under a made-up farm brand, which seemed all the rage a few years ago, sums up what a ridiculous position we are in.

The faceless, standardised nature of it all is enough to make you wonder why we put in so much effort.

The price is set, based on weight and grade, regardless of texture, colour, flavour or tenderness, although these are the exact traits customers are looking for.

Surely, we can move to a system that rewards sustainable production and a good eating experience, rather than whether the steak fits the predesigned packaging.

So a huge thank you to all 250 farms that were willing to show the public why British produce is worth fighting for, by hosting on Open Farm Sunday. It takes courage to show anyone around your farm, let alone trailer-loads of strangers.

With every questionable trade deal that is hastily signed, it becomes ever clearer we need all the support we can get. It’s up to all of us to be open and honest with those who buy our produce.

Anyway, I’m now off to pick out the next 12 finished cattle. Then I’m being taken shopping. Apparently wearing a stained T-shirt, purchased in 2005, is no longer socially acceptable.

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