Less, but better.
What is Good Beef?
Good Beef is a by product of our glorious dairy herds, so it has a much lower carbon footprint compared to beef produced from ‘suckler’ systems where a cow just rears one calf each year. Our dairy cows produce around 6000 litres of milk for human consumption, as well as a calf each year. Research shows this is usually 50% more climate friendly in itself. Then we ensure that after 6 months of age, our beef cattle eat only grass and other green forages, like hay, silage and root crops. We have a mixture of herbal leys, which may have over 25 different sown species, as well as permanent pastures which develop their own unique eco-system, depending on soil type and altitude. We have even started experimenting with agroforestry, where trees are planted within the pastures, providing shade, shelter, habitats for birds and mammals, and even feed for the animals too. The trees lock up even more carbon, and recycle nutrients from deep in the soil, while also providing fruits, nuts and timber for us humans.
The cattle themselves may be pure-bred British Friesians, a wonderful dual purpose breed in that they are good for milk and meat (unlike the Holsteins which are very Twiggy like!) or they may be sired by a Hereford, Angus or Montbelliard bull. They live for about two years in our idyllic countryside, developing wonderful flavour on these rich, diverse pastures. And research shows that both organic milk (dairy) and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products, as well as 40% more conjugated linoleic acid, which has been linked to a range of health benefits including reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and obesity. So as well as being a high welfare, lower carbon and good for nature approach, Good Beef is better for us too.
But should we be eating beef at all?
Meat eating, and beef in particular, has been a hot topic in recent years. Our approach, in line with the Soil Association’s, is that it’s all about ‘less, but better’. It is absolutely clear that we must reduce meat consumption on a global basis, and that industrialised animal systems should cease. Over half the grain and protein crops the world produces are fed to animals, and around 60% of the antibiotics too. (While we are rightly tacking the CV-19 pandemic as a global emergency, it’s worth remembering that the predictions are for antibiotic resistance to kill more people than cancer by 2050, if we don’t stop using them so profligately). If we all eat as much meat as the Americans do, some 250g/day, we will destroy our chances of safeguarding the environment and nature. But in some places, people would benefit from eating a little more meat and dairy, as malnutrition stunts many children in Africa and elsewhere. So our approach is that meat should be ethically produced, in systems which use grasslands and wastes that we cannot eat, and which regenerate soil fertility and biodiversity. Some grazing animals are part of the solution, not the problem. So if you wish to continue eating some meat, do make sure it comes from farms which are pioneering new and better approaches, as we are with our Good Beef range.