Great British Beef Week kicks off on the 1st April till 7th April 2019 and aims to highlight the importance of quality beef products as part of a healthy diet. The initiative has been running for 9 years and celebrates the quality of British beef. The week is fronted by Ladies in Beef (LIB), a community of ladies who are beef farmers across the UK and supported by the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (R.A.B.I.)

Mustard topped roast beef with trimmings
Mustard-topped roast beef from Ladies in Beef

When mighty roast beef was the Englishman’s food it enabled our hearts and enriched our blood. Our soldiers were brave and our courtiers were good. Oh! the roast beef of England. And Old England’s Roast Beef.
Henry Fielding

Why is it important to buy British Beef?

Just like with many foods, it’s best to eat what comes from the local area as much as you can. This gives the farmer, the butcher or farm shop and the customer more knowledge and power in their food decisions.

Currently, it is not compulsory to label the origin of meat in EU legislation[1], of which the UK adheres to at the moment. Raw meat is labelled better than cooked meat products ranging from cured ham, pies and even in restaurants[1] where often than not, it’s origin isn’t mentioned. Seeing the Red Tractor logo can help the consumer find which meat is from the UK.

According to LIB, nearly half of all cattle herds are managed on moorlands, mountains, marshlands and wetlands[2] which aids the absorption of carbon in our atmosphere, as well as putting undesirable land to use[2].

A Health Food

Beef, and red meat, in general, is a food which is habitually despised in media, food projects and by some health professionals. There are potentially thousands of articles misinforming people about meat consumption. As a nation, we consume more protein that is adequate to survive and for many of us, we eat a diet generally consisting of meat and 2 veg.  The issue isn’t how much we’re eating, it is a matter of what we’re eating.

The essential nutrients found in red meat can be inhibited by many factors. For instance, the rest of a person’s diet can affect the absorption of essential nutrients. Age and gender affect this too, with iron deficiency being a common problem for women and children.

Vitamins in foods start to deteriorate as soon as it is prepared or picked, which is why it is essential to eat as much fresh produce as possible. Even food packaging, which has the possibility of transferring chemicals[3] with potential side effects, although these claims have not been substantiated widely. Research has reviewed this in the past with studies of glass containers containing lead and cans and hard plastic Tupperware containing high levels of bisphenol A (BPA) which has been shown to affect foetuses and small children’s brains and endocrine systems.

Pulled beef brisket with baguette and pickles
Pulled beef brisket from Ladies in Beef

The packaging does, however, increase storage life, which can affect its nutritional value – even if it’s British. Packaging, of course, has its place. It does help to inhibit avoidable food-borne diseases such as salmonella[3] and is super convenient in our hectic lives.

Interestingly, beef is actually at the base of many popular dishes across the UK including burgers, lasagne, cottage pie and of course the iconic Sunday roast beef.

Health Benefits of Beef

Red meat has many health benefits. It is a source rich in vitamin B12, zinc, protein and iron which are all more easily absorbed into the body than plant sources. This, of course, means nothing if red meat is not accompanied by foods that help with this absorption. For instance, to give your body the best chance of getting high quality and quantities of iron, eat with a food rich in vitamin C such as oranges, kiwis, kale and bell peppers[4].

  • High levels of L-Carnitine a non-essential amino acid that performs 3 functions in the body: Endurance, Fat Burning and Brain Function[5]
  • High in protein which promotes and improves muscle mass. It is one of the biggest sources of protein in our diet and this should be a top priority especially as we age[6]
  • Consumption of beef can help battle nutritional deficiencies such as anaemia which affects around 1.62 billion people worldwide[6]. Beef is a great source of heme iron which is more easily absorbed by the body than plant-based non-heme iron sources. Despite this, it is still easy to sustain adequate iron levels through non-heme iron foods.
  • Beef is rich in vitamin B12 which helps skin stay and look healthy and improves sleep. A deficiency in this important vitamin is also linked to mental health problems such as depression[6]
  • Contains non-essential amino acid creatine. Creatine, which is naturally found in our bodies and in meat and fish products, helps to improve endurance and muscle growth[6]
Cauliflower in the sun
Eat beef alongside foods which contain high levels of vitamin C such as cauliflower

Eat Local Beef

Discover great beef from your local farmers and butchers across Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. Here is a selection you can find in the Foodful directory.

Pink beef being cut
Beef can be incredibly tasty and is best enjoyed pink and juicy.

Greenbrae

Greenbrae is settled in the beautiful Coquet Valley on Newton Farm and all meat is traceable. The animals are traditionally reared and their welfare is a top priority. There is a butchery onsite that you can visit on Friday and Saturday mornings or through a pre-arranged time. You can also find Greenbrae at Alnwick Farmer’s Market.

Northumbrian Wagyu

The wagyu beef, a generic term covering all herds native to Japan, is one of the world’s most luxurious foods known for its flavour and succulence because of the marbling in the meat. Monkridge Hill Farm is home to wagyu cattle herd and Steve Ramshaw, whose hard work has been recognised by the EEC. Wagyu beef is recognised by top chefs and health experts for its deliciousness as well as its health properties. For instance, wagyu has higher levels of fatty acid conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) more than any other foodstuffs which make its healthier[7].

Raw wagyu beef with soy sauce
Wagyu beef is raved to be incredibly tender with an intense, rich flavour.

Peelham Farm

The organic farm, butchery and charcuterie is an award-winning business based in Foulden. The pasture-for-life beef is grass-fed, organic and is free to roam the beautiful Scottish Borders countryside. Peelham Farm regularly attends farmers market ranging from Edinburgh’s weekly Saturday market to local food festivals around Northumberland and Scottish Borders. Peelham Farm‘s produce can also be found at local farm shops and health food shops such as The Green Shop in Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Herd of cattle
Herd of cattle at Peelham Farm

Hardiesmill

Hardiesmill is an ethical Scotch Beef farm. The cows spend their entire lives on the farm – from beginning to end. The farm boasts its own micro-abattoir where the meat is also butchered, keeping everything ‘in house’. The high welfare priority of the animals results in its quality and taste of the final products produced by Hardiesmill. Available on the farm is pure-breed Aberdeen Angus Cattle which is one of the most popular beef cattle breeds.

You can place orders online or see Alison and Robin Tuke at Kelso Farmer’s Market every 4th Saturday of the month. Hardiesmill beef is also used in restaurants around the borders and in Edinburgh. Also available are charcuterie products from Tombuie Charcuterie.

Well Hung and Tender

Castlehills Farm is home to a herd of Aberdeen Angus cows near Berwick-upon-Tweed. The farm is famous for its company Well Hung and Tender which sells burgers made from the Aberdeen Angus herd which are grass-fed. The company can be found at local food festivals and also is available to hire for events. Enjoy a classic burger – border-style!

Minced beef, raw onion and herbs
Beef mince with onions to make a classic beef burger

Beef Farmers Around the Borders

  • Whitriggs Farms
  • Upper Nisbit Farm
  • Fans Farm
  • Playfair Farms

There are many local beef farmers across Northumberland and Scottish Borders. Many are Quality Meat Assured (QMS) and supply local butchers across the counties.

Got Beef with Beef?

Rare-cooked beef
How do you like your beef?

Everyone is different and depending on your own ethics, lifestyle or religion, beef may simply be off the table. However, if you choose or love beef, enjoy good quality British beef, ideally grass-fed if it is available near you. Beef can offer a number of benefits to your diet, but like many things enjoy in moderation to avoid bad health choices. Beef, in its raw, unprocessed form, is a top health food and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Show your support for Great British Beef Week and local farmers who need to be supported, perhaps even more so in these uncertain time.

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