When you hear the term ‘free range’ what comes to mind? Happy animals roaming around freely, rolling in the mud, grazing on fresh grass, lying in the sun and running around as they please? Unfortunately many of our ‘free range’ farms here in Australia are not painting the same picture. Some farmers are breeding up to 40,000 chickens per hectare and selling pork from pigs that have only lived on pasture for three weeks before being moved into sheds for the remainder of their lives, and they can still legally market their produce as ‘free range’ once it gets to the supermarket shelves.
At The Health Emporium we believe that every part of the cycle from paddock to plate, directly or indirectly affects our health in some way. Local company Feather and Bone have helped ensure we can trust where our meat comes from and feel confident about the animals quality of life before it gets to our store, into your shopping basket and finally onto your dinner table at home. Knowing these animals have been treated respectfully every step of the way you can have peace of mind while cooking, feeling soundly confident when serving and be deeply grateful when eating the meal you have created knowing it is 100% benefiting your beloved families health, improving strength, increasing energy levels and repairing their overall well-being.
If you’re not already excited about Feather and Bone Pastured Meats here are a few more reasons you should be. Laura, who started and runs the business with her partner Grant, answered some of our questions about this awesome company below:
Where did the inspiration behind your company come from?
Grant trained as a film maker but worked for years in restaurants as a waiter and sommelier. He became curious about why there was so little discussion of the provenance of the ingredients in restaurant menus. He wanted to know if it was possible to apply the concept of ‘terroir’ (the combination of unique environments, climate conditions and varieties on wine) to other products, particularly meat. He heard about a few farmers breeding heritage sheep and their claims that they were far superior to the merino cross and set out to find out if this claim was true. One thing led to another and he found himself selling a few lambs to Sydney chefs who loved the product. Before he knew it, Grant had what he realised was the beginnings of a small business selling rare breed, sustainably-raised meat to Sydney restaurants.
What makes your products different from other similar ones currently on the market?
We source whole, pasture-raised livestock directly from farms committed to genuinely sustainable soil, plant and animal health. We don’t buy any boxed meat. The animals are pasture-raised, meaning they live all or the majority of their lives outside, ranging freely in family groups on sustainably-managed pastures.
The farmers we source from practice regenerative agriculture and use various natural systems for achieving optimum soil fertility, including rotational grazing and fostering plant diversity. They don’t use chemical growth promotants, pesticides, fertilisers, herbicides or prophylactic antibiotics.
About 70% of the farms are certified bio-dynamic, organic or Humane Choice Free Range. Those that aren’t certified conform to organic principles. We give preference to farms growing heritage or rare breeds of livestock because different breeds suit different climates, environments and palettes and we support the Slow Food Ark concept.
We visit all the farms we work with to understand the unique characteristics and practices of each producer. Everything we sell is attributed so you can trace exactly where it comes from and every claim we make can be substantiated either by us, the producer or the certifying body.
We write regularly about the producers and issues affecting transparency in the food system and do our best to give our customers the information they need to make informed choices that suit their lives. This is how we show our respect for the animal, the producer and our customers.
What are some of the benefits we can gain from eating free range meat as opposed to commercial factory farming?
By purchasing the products of sustainable farms, regardless of whether it’s chicken or chick peas, you are voting with your wallet for an alternative to the unsustainable and increasingly problematic business of intensive food production. You are voting for farming systems that are designed to work in harmony with, not against nature. These farms won’t produce the volume and predictability of intensive farms and they may require you to do without sometimes. But they also won’t be responsible for plastering the land with a barrage of toxic chemical pesticides, insecticides and fertilisers and the continuing destruction of the earth’s precious topsoil. They won’t be responsible for the administration of prophylactic antibiotics to ensure the health and speedy growth of hundreds of animals packed into sheds, thereby risking the efficacy of antibiotics in fighting human disease. Nor will they be responsible for causing those animals great misery by denying them the right to live their lives naturally.
What does the company have in store for the future?
Our objective is to eradicate factory farming. So we’ll continue to do our best to create a market for food produced with a healthy future in mind. The more we can do to create a market for sustainably-produced food, the more viable it becomes for farmers to practice ‘alternative’ farming. What’s good for them is good for all of us.
We currently have a full fridge of Feather and Bone Pastured Produce at The Health Emporium. There is a huge variety of beautifully packaged, premium, assorted steaks, cutlets, mince, roasts and bones ranging from beef, veal, lamb, pork, bacon, salami, sausages and even rendered duck fat and chicken feet to make your own stock or broth. We have some heavenly recipes on our website for a few ideas of how you can use this beautiful produce to create a mouth-watering meal using the meat to its full potential.
Thanks to Feather and Bone you, your family and friends can now enjoy your beautifully cooked roast dinner so much more with piece of mind knowing where it came from is fair, humane, healthy and good for the environment. Now you can have sweet dreams of happy animals roaming around freely, rolling in the mud, regularly grazing on fresh grass, lying in the sun and running around as they please after all.
Written by Prue Rustean