As part of the celebrating 20 years of Freedom Food campaign I was asked by Sainsbury’s to visit a Freedom Food pig farm and to create a recipe to illustrate how tasty our higher welfare outdoor reared British pork can be. How did they know that pork is my favourite meat? It really is. Think of the crunch of hot, salty crackling or the meltingly soft meat of a slow cooked rib and who could ever resist the joys of pulled pork let alone a generously filled roll of hot roast pork and apple sauce . I could go on…….
Freedom food was established the RSPCA with the sole aim of improving farm animal welfare. Farmers involved in this scheme must meet the standards set by the RSPCA which include the following:
-Correct food & water provision,
-Stress free living conditions,
-Well managed healthcare and transport
RSPCA farm stock monitors will also carry out annual inspections of the Freedom food farms to ensure they are adhering to the appropriate standards within their farms. Freedom foods promotes itself as the higher welfare yet affordable option when choosing meats, fish and eggs. Like most of us who like the idea of shopping organically but cannot justify the expense, Freedom foods offers a sensible and achievable alternative.
Did you know that Sainsbury’s sells more Freedom foods that any other supermarket? Judith Batchelar, director of Sainsbury’s Brand, said: “By 2020, all our meat, poultry, eggs, game and dairy products will be sourced from suppliers who adhere to independent higher welfare standards.”
She also believes the better management of livestock that Freedom food offers goes on to improve both productivity and food quality for the consumers.
I went along to Strawson Livestock Ltd to see a Freedom foods operational farm for myself. The farm farrows piglets up to 4 weeks old. I hadn’t appreciated that pig farms are split up into 4 categories and farmers specialise in only one of these stages.
1. Farrowers-looking after piglets up to 4 weeks old.
2. Weaners-from 4 to 7 weeks old.
3. Growers-from 7 to 12 weeks old.
4. Finishers- 12 to 22 weeks.
Jeff Wilson, who own the farm began breeding 20 years ago but he has a farm manager, Tom Slay, running the day-to-day operations for him with team of four men. His pigs are outdoor reared so the sows spend their entire time out-of-doors, even in the harshest of winters. They have straw bedded barns to sleep in and to escape from the cold and rain.But these pigs are hardy creatures and adapt suitably to whatever the British climate throws at them, wallowing in huge muddy puddles to cool down (because pigs cannot sweat), with the mud also acting as sunscreen for their sensitive skin!
Outdoor reared piglets are fed purely on their mother’s milk. I got to hold a ten-day old piglet, with the mother casually feeding close by, illustrating just how happy and relaxed the pigs on the farm must be. In fact they were very sociable, with some pigs running up alongside us with inquisitive expressions on their faces. Did you know that pigs also chew stones much in the same way as we chew gum? They make lots of noise then spit their stones into their water trough when they are done with them. The farmers are endlessly emptying their troughs out!
What struck me from my visit to Jeff’s farm was just how much work it takes to be a successful farmer. Not only the daily hands on running of the farm, but also the amount of paperwork involved. To meet the high standards that are expected from Freedom food farm, Jeff showed us a room full to the brim of paperwork that is inspected on a annual basis. Health & safety manuals, training schedules, traceability files. Every single part of each of the pigs lives must be recorded. It is a huge commitment and one that does not allow for weekends off. Standards such as these come at a price but if you look to see how much the freedom food outdoor reared pork costs at Sainsbury’s, the difference is not significantly more expensive considering the better quality of meat you are buying.
As a genuine pork appreciater, I would always seek out and pay for Freedom Foods outdoor reared pork. I will offset the slightly higher costs by using less of it per person, cutting it thinner for speed of cooking and not eating it every day of the week. We are so far removed now from meat and two veg every night. Surely we have now moved on front the post war era of traditional British food?
I hope that by creating recipes such as my Japanese inspired pork dish that you will see just how sensational British pork can be. So next time you pop into the shops, why not pop some pork in your basket and Freedom food pork at that. This is my “Celebrating 20 years of freedom food” recipe of choice. Fresh, light flavours with an Asian twist and a conscience.
Here is a breakdown of the costs for putting together this meal for your family. It will serve 4 adults or like us, 2 adults and 3 children.
- Pork £5.50
- Oil 10p
- Ginger 20p
- Mirin 15p
- Soy sauce 20p
- Sake/Sherry 25p
- Sesame seeds 3p
- Spring onions 60p
- Rice £1.50
- White cabbage 35p
- Carrot 10p
- Courgette 50p
- Apple/rice wine vinegar 2p
- Caster sugar 2p
- Red chilli 20p
- Total £9.72
- £2.43 per head for 4 people or
- £1.95 per head for 2 adults and 3 children (aka my family)
Here are a few more pork recipes for inspiration:
Sweet & Sour Pork – Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary
Thai spiced pork – Feeding Boys
Mustard crusted pork chops – Cooksister
Pork & Apple Stroganoff Pie – Kavey Eats
Pork Wellington – Fab Food 4 All
*Disclosure* I was compensated by Sainsbury’s for the time spent creating this recipe and writing this post. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.
- For the pork 🙂
- -2tbsp light olive oil/vegetable oil for frying the pork
- -500g taste the difference freedom food pork fillet thinly sliced,
- -A large knob of ginger (2tbsp approx) peeled and grated,
- -2tbsp soy sauce,
- -2tbsp Mirin,
- -2tbsp Sake or dry Sherry,
- -6 spring onions sliced into thin strips and fried in oil until crisp for garnish,
- -Toasted sesame seeds for garnish,
- For the pickled vegetables:)
- -1/2 a head of a small white cabbage sliced as thinly as possible,
- -1 large carrot peeled and sliced into ribbons using a vegetable peeler,
- -1 courgette sliced into ribbons using a vegetable peeler (don't use the seedy central part of the courgette),
- -1 heaped teaspoon salt,
- -2tbsp apple vinegar or rice wine vinegar,
- -1tsp caster sugar,
- -1 red chilli finely chopped (optional)
- For the pork:)
- 1. Place the thinly sliced pork, grated ginger, soy sauce, Mirin, Sake/dry Sherry into a bowl to marinade for about 15 minutes,
- 2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the pork (medium to high heat) in 2 batches to prevent the meat from stewing,
- 3. This will only take about 3 minutes per batch of pork,
- 4. Next pour in the marinade and add the first batch of pork to the pan so the meat can absorb the flavours of the marinade, turn the heat off after a minute and let the pork rest for a couple of minutes,
- For the pickled vegetables 🙂
- 1. Put the cabbage, carrot and courgette into a large mixing bowl and sprinkle on the salt then mix it through with your hands to coat all of the vegetables,
- 2. Leave the mixture to release it's liquid, this will take up to 30 minutes so you might want to do this in advance,
- 3. After 30 minutes put the vegetables into a colander and rinse off the salt thoroughly and leave the mixture to drain over a large bowl for a few minutes,
- 4. Mix the vinegar, sugar and chilli (if using) and set aside,
- 5. After a few minutes take the vegetables and squeeze all of the liquid out using your hands, a little bit at a time then place into a serving bowl,
- 6. Pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables then mix well. If you like you can add in a pinch more sugar or a splash more vinegar at this stage to balance the sweet sour flavours
- To serve:)
- Serve the pork with a garnish of crispy fried spring onions, toasted sesame seeds, the pickled vegetables and some jasmine/sticky rice for a delicious, healthy satisfying meal!
- The pickled vegetables can be made the day before which will allow you to put together this meal in less than 30 minutes. Alternatively you could serve it with a simple stir fry of cabbage or maybe some broccoli stir fried with lots of garlic.