We’re currently in the middle of a major renovation project at our home in Surrey, so I escaped the chaos and took the children back to my hometown of Cardiff for their half-term break. While we were there we visited Cefn Mably farm park (http://www.cefnmablyfarmpark.com/) – a wonderful children’s farm providing the opportunity for children to feed and handle a variety of friendly animals in an all-weather environment, as much of it is covered over. It also boasts a huge soft-play centre and a café with a good selection of freshly made food. The latest addition to the centre is a farm shop called the Moody Sow, selling fresh, local produce.
As the name would suggest, their specialty is pigs, which are bred and reared on site. They make their own remarkably tasty sausages (we bought and tasted them!) as well as smoked and cured bacon, and sell a range of other meats that come from trusted local farms. There is also a bakery on site making fresh bread daily for both the shop and restaurant, as well as a wide range of Moody Sow jams, chutneys and preserves, many with rather interesting flavours, such as champagne strawberry jam and lemon curd with lavender. They also stock free-range eggs from a nearby farm and a range of Welsh cheeses.
The emphasis at the Moody Sow, like many other farm shops, is on quality, reliability, minimal packaging and low carbon footprints. Like buying organically grown foods, this is perhaps an ideal and unfortunately for many of us comes with a rather limiting price tag. Therefore my usual approach to farm shops is to take a quick look around, marvel at the wonderful produce, perhaps pick up a tasty looking preserve as a present and then leave, assuming that it is all far too expensive. However, following the horsemeat saga in the UK, like many others I have become more particular about where I buy our meat. It made me think a bit more about where the meat I buy actually comes from, and what happens before it makes it onto the supermarket shelves.
Many independent butchers have increased in popularity as a consequence of the horsemeat scandal as many of us are changing the way we shop. A new trend amongst many of my contemporaries seems to be to stock up on the weekly basics online from one of the large supermarkets, then purchase select, fresh produce from local farm shops or farmers markets when they can. This can make the process of buying food an enjoyable part of the weekend that might also involve the children. Talking and getting to know local producers can provide assurance that you are buying quality produce, and establishing relationships with local suppliers can make the whole process more personal.
Our own local village butcher’s shop has a queue stretching down the street on a Saturday morning with people enticed in by weekly offers. The prices now compare favourably with the higher end supermarkets, and it gives you piece of mind to know that the meat has been hand selected by the people who are supplying it. So, why not bypass the meat aisle at the supermarket this week and find out where your local butcher lives, or if there is a nearby farmer’s market. You might find it’s not quite as expensive as you think, or that you are willing to trade quantity over quality. The children might enjoy the old fashioned way of shopping too…just don’t forget to pack your wicker basket!
Pictures were taken from The Moody Sow website and published with permission.