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From hunter wellies to high heels - a case for rose veal

Posted on: Oct 31 2012

I wasn’t born wearing a shift dress and heels, most people have never even seen me wear a pair of jeans. I have a shady past, if that’s not something of a contradiction in terms for a girl from Minnesota.


I am a Dairy Queen, runner up to the Princess Kay of the Milky Way Pageant, a longstanding fixture of the Minnesota Agricultural “season” and the closest I have come to royalty.


Princess Kay is crowned the night before the opening of the Minnesota State Fair. Think Young Farmers crossed with a Prom night and you have the cheesy gist of the affair. I stood in my white cotton frock, looking every bit the wholesome milk maid on a float made from milk cartons and loved every Mid-Western minute of it.


My summers were spent at my Godfather Paul’s 1,000 acre dairy farm in the gentle verdant hills with crops of corn that rolled across the hills like ribbons of corduroy. The farm was called Belvedere, it took me 30 years to learn the word is Italian for ‘beautiful view’—there’s not much call for Italian in Minnesota, and the show offs know a smattering of immigrant German or Norwegian.


I milked, rode horses, drank beer with my farming cousins and the best bit, I reared the veal calves. Ah, the dark secret revealed.


Veal was not a contentious issue, I never thought it was cruel and it was just a way of making use of male calves. It was just how small family farming was done. I looked after 25-30 calves, no more than that. The animals were reared in a spacious, open and airy place and the animals weren’t tethered and had plenty of space to roam around freely both indoors and outdoors. The calves were easier to deal with than the cows, and I rather liked bottle feeding them. It was peaceful and satisfying, as farming should be.


What I was rearing is what’s called Rose Veal in Britain, and I’m hoping more people will try it—as it needs a viable market.
The fact is, if you drink milk or eat cheese, it's crueller not to eat rose veal. Consider male dairy calves. Over a quarter of a million of them are killed each year. Unable to produce milk, obviously, and unsuitable for beef production, they are shot soon after birth as a "waste product" of the dairy industry. Either that or they're exported to Europe, where the continental craving for pale meat means their welfare is profoundly compromised.


There is a rise in demand from butchers for ethically produced rose veal which is a world apart from the crates and practices that gave veal a bad name a decade ago. British rose veal has won the ethical stamp of approval from the RSPCA and Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) but it remains a niche market in the UK, just 0.1% of the meat we consume each year.


Dairy cows are kept constantly pregnant to feed our milk and cheese habit but while female calves can go on to replace their mothers in the dairy system; there is no market for the male calves of dairy breeds which aren't considered good for beef.
Majority of veal being produced in Europe and imported into the UK isn't raised under conditions anything like our welfare standards. The calves have restricted milk diets to keep the meat white. Rose veal is slightly pink and has a lovely, lovely flavour and it's full of protein. I'd love to see more people eating it. It's not the cheapest so for a lot of people it would have to be a once-a-week meal, a special treat or dinner party showstopper.


I’m part of The Meat Crusade, which aims to send consumers back to the high street butcher for great tasting ethically sourced meat. By talking about rose veal we hope to educate consumers about this ethically raised meat.


I grew up eating veal, and the dishes of my Anglo German ancestry tug at the rumbling tummy of my food nostalgia. Wiener Schnitzel at the Black Forest Inn was the height of sophistication, and after a few kiddy cocktails, I’d happily clean my plate.
It’s important as farmers and consumers we respect the whole food chain, and that means giving a market to ethically reared veal. I’m hoping TheMeat Crusade will help to persuade British consumers to start eating rose veal – and will go some way to address the "hidden scandal" of our love of milk that sees an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 male dairy calves shot within hours of birth.


If you drink milk or eat cheese, it’s important we reconsider how we view the industry as a whole and shake off the stigma of eating veal. For confidence in how veal has been reared, veal is best bought from a reputable butcher. They can also give you expert advice on how to cook it.
 

My Mother’s Veal Stroganoff

Ingredients

1 tbsp Olive Oil
750g Veal Leg Steaks, thinly sliced
2 Onions, finely chopped
1 tsp freshly crushed garlic
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
230ml chicken stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
250g mushrooms, button
175ml light sour cream
2 tbsp fresh chives, sliced

Recipe Directions:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat to high heat. Cook the veal for 4-5 minutes. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes.


Stir in the garlic, and Smoked Paprika and cook for 1 minute. Add the Dijon mustard, chicken stock, tomato paste and mushrooms. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.


Stir the sour cream and chives through.


Serve with pasta noodles, or baby new potatoes and green salad.

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Comments

What a fantastic article! By Guest on Oct 11 2012 at 2:38 PM
I have to agree, these are not babes in arms. Us milky latte and tea drinking types need to realise what our love of dairy is doing to young fresian bulls. Eat rose veal I say!

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Joanna Blythman

Joanna Blythman is Britain’s leading investigative food journalist and an influential commentator on the British food chain. She has won four Glenfiddich awards for her writing, including a Glenfiddich Special Award for her first book, The Food We Eat, a Caroline Walker Media Award for Improving the Nation’s Health by Means of Good Food, and a Guild of Food Writers Award for The Food We Eat.

We need to cherish the excellent traditional butchers who have kept going valiantly in the teeth of the supermarket takeover of our food chain. As the Meat Crusade puts it, if one in 10 of us returned to our local butcher that would be make a real difference. And if one in five of us did so, even once a week, it could start a revolution.

Rosemary Shrager

Rosemary Shrager, talented TV chef and cookery school teacher, is renowned for her role on reality TV show, Ladette to Lady. Rosemary has worked for Pierre Koffman at the famous Tante Claire restaurant in London and also for super chef Jean-Christophe Novelli.

Rosemary’s TV career began with series Rosemary – Castle Cook, followed by Rosemary on the Road, both for Channel 5. She is now a familiar face on ITV, following up her Rosemary Shrager's School For Cooks series with regular appearances on The Alan Titchmarsh Show.

It is so important to support butchers, if we do not then they will go and then we really will miss them. These people know where all their food has come from, generally sourcing everything from the local area’s farmers. Support for your butcher is support for the wider farming community.

Brian Turner

A popular face on our TV screens, Yorkshire-born Brian’s career started in less glamorous circumstances - cooking breakfasts at his dad's transport café.

Your local butcher really cares about the meat he sells and the people he sells to. He deserves your support- let’s not lose him now.

Tom Parker Bowles

Tom is a food writer and broadcaster with a weekly column in The Mail on Sunday and is Food Editor at Esquire magazine.
His books include E Is For Eating – An Alphabet of Greed, The Year of Eating Dangerously and Full English; A Journey Through the British and Their Food. He also co-presented Market Kitchen on Good Food Channel and presented LBC Radio's Food and Drink Programme.

The steady loss of our local butchers is cause for serious alarm. Just 2 months back my favourite butcher, Kingsland and Son, fell victim to a fierce rent hike and was forced to move out. The whole area is still reeling from the loss. Because butchery is both art and science. Not just in the physical act of separating different cuts from a carcass, but the wealth of knowledge any serious butcher has; where the meat comes from, how long the beef was hung, what cuts are better suited to braising than roasting. Support your local butchers. For the sake of the community, and your taste buds too.

Jay Rayner

The award winning Observer Food Critic and One show journalist.

Jay currently chairs the new Radio 4 food panel show, The Kitchen Cabinet, having recently appeared as judge on Masterchef and The Great British Waste Menu, and hosted Channel 4's magazine show Food: What Goes in your Basket?

Now, more than ever, we need to know where our meat is coming from, and your local butcher is best placed to give you that vital information. There is no substitute for buying your meat from the people who sourced it. They are the ones who know how it was raised, how it was slaughtered and how best to cook it. If we lose our local butchers we lose an irreplaceable part of the food chain.