About My Quest

Happy pigs in mud, cows in clover. This is the way we like to think of farm animals. Unfortunately this is most often not the case. My love of animals and conviction that eating meat is part of the ideal healthy human diet has led me to seek out meat that is:

Humanely raised and treated
Free range
Grass fed
Hormone and Antibiotic free
Pesticide free

Although certified organic food is wonderful because you are assured that the producers strictly satisfy the above criteria the cost of these products is generally very high and not affordable for everyone.
'Organic' is a ridiculous term because it simply means that it consists of natural elements. Many food producers are predominantly 'organic' by the definition set out by reputable certifiers however for a range of reasons they do not bother with the expense of becoming certified.
Many farmers produce food that fits the list above and I plan to find them. I encourage you to band together with friends, family and colleagues to buy in bulk direct from these farmers.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

This post has been a very long time in coming so I apologise to the small group of followers and the occasional web traveller who stumbles across this blog in search of answers only to find a ghost of an inspiring blog.

You see my husband, toddler daughter and I are having an adventure of our own and we have moved to Spain. It has taken a while to find our feet, start grappling with the language and feel settled. So obviously this has meant that my mission has been shelved.

I hope and know that the information is still useful to people.  If you have any information about farms, suppliers etc I am happy to include your information here for others with the disclaimer that people need to vett for themselves. Even if you are a farmer or a supplier and claim to satisfy my criteria I am happy to include you and people can ascertain for themselves if your product is what they are looking for.

So I have encountered a whole new set of issues trying to source humanely raised, free range healthy meat here in Spain. The language barrier is a huge obstacle obviously. However we have been happily eating lovely jamón from a pig that has been free range raised in a Unesco biosphere reserve who feasts on his favourite food of chesnuts until his demise. I know for a fact that these animals have a superb quality of life but I don't know about slaughter practices and transportation. I do however know that the distances are quite short so the problems of transport we have in Australia are unlikely.

Two jamon legs strapped into the child seat of our bicycle:-)
Other than that I have been lowering my meat consumption and trying to buy écologic' where possible but i am not completely sure of the standards of this certification. Wish me luck. Maybe I will start a European site someday.
Some of you have been a bit confused as to why I have included information on here about big chain supermarkets and suppliers. In my utopian ideal we would all buy either organic meat or CICO meat direct from farmers with meat that that satisfies my criteria however I am a realist and understand that not everyone is able to nor wants to go down these lines for various reasons. Rather than just give up  I would rather provide information that helps people buy slightly more humanely raised, healthy meat. Is this a cop out? No I don't think so. Many cannot afford órganic'meat, do not have the time or energy to source meat direct from farmers. If a large section of the market supports more affordable less cruel, more healthy meat by buying these products at the supermarket then it will affect change. In fact it already has and Coles and Safeway are making headway on offering these products. Their decision to eradicate caged eggs from their shelves will save hundreds of thousands of hens from the worst treatment imaginable. It has much more impact than the dozens of people I have influenced or maybe the hundreds that a small farmer supplies.So to Mc Ivor Farms (see their comment below this post here) I know that there is a considerable difference between your beautiful happy pigs and the outstanding product that you offer and the product that Otway Pork provide as you describe in your comment. Otway Pork are a 1 on the utopian ideal and you are a 10 but I firmly believe that change needs to come from a number of sources and the long list of cruelty that does not occur at Otway Pork is a very positive step in the right direction affecting a lot of pigs and consumers. See my blog post and comments on this here
.So I want to make it clear that my aim is to encourage everyone to buy from sources such as Mc Ivor Farms and Farmer Dan but I am not burying my head in the sand and pretending that it is realistic that everyone will embrace my goals. This doesn't mean that people don't care and can't help. I hope that anyone reading this can find ways in which to make positive changes for themselves, family and the animals.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Trying to source humanely raised pork

Hello again! Now for Pork....

Ok so this blog has fallen by the wayside as many blogs do. Not because I can't be bothered, or I've lost interest or don't care but because my life over the last year has been irrevocably turned upside down. We call it Hurricane Miranda and it was the birth of our tempestuous daughter. A wonderful amazing and exhausting year it has been.

I still have a keen interest in animal welfare issues and seek information about humanely raised meat. I am currently not in a position to to drive for many hours to personally go and see the farms however I have still been making a little progress. Many people ask me about CICO pork because there is very little pork readily available that is not misery raised. According to Animal Liberation "There are some 5.3 million pigs kept for meat in Australia" and the vast majority are kept in horrifying conditions. See and read here if you want some motivation to seek out humanely raised meat.

Due to my baby related constraints I have deviated a little from my original intention of seeking bulk meat from farms that I have personally vetted. However I have continued to do some research on where and how to source humanely raised, free range meat that is affordable.
Although I cannot vouch for these sources of pork I feel it is better to support a trend towards free range than to support factory farming.

On the issue of affordability pork is much more expensive than beef because it costs more to raise pigs in free range. Pigs require indoor housing to protect them from cold and sun as they are not as weatherproof as other animals because don't have coats.

Free range or even organic Bacon and smallgoods products seem to be largely non-existent in the mainstream.
I discovered that the Healesville Hotel group source their bacon and ham from a charming family run butcher in Belgrave. Bill's of Belgrave sell mostly free range meats. Their pork comes from Otway Free Range Pork and they make their own amazing ham, bacon and sausages.

The baby and I personally visited this week and purchased Kassler pork chops, pork loin chops, divine bacon scraps and heavenly hickory smoked bacon. The bacon is $25.99 per kilo. At the supermarket the only free range bacon I have found is $39 per kilo and no where near as nice.

Keep Bill's of Belgrave in mind for Christmas for lovely happy ham. Belgrave is not that far from Melbourne so you can make a delightful day trip of it, visit the hills and stock up on some great free range produce. 'Like' them on facebook and keep up with their specials. They also sell free range chickens from Glenloth Game and Hazeldene's Chicken. A size 16 Hazeldene free range chicken is $12.99. To be honest I didn't look at their beef as I am happy with my farm direct supplies but they also source their beef from Gippsland. At a glance these prices were also reasonable so they have a lot more than just great pork.

I am very interested in McIvor Farms as their website claims that they are available at Coles but I have never seen them and I spend a lot of time cruising meat aisles of supermarkets to keep an eye on things.
A reporter for the ABC visited McIvor Farms and it seems they are the real deal
You need to pre-order but their bacon $22.50 per kilo www.mcivorfarmfoods.com.au/the_foods
Option to buy in bulk and have delivered

I've also discovered King Valley Free Range Pork do bulk pack delivery. kingvalleyfreerange.tripod.com/index.html However I notice many of their prices are a little more than Bill's of Belgrave but delivery is convenient.

They are apparently endorsed by the Victorian Farmer's Markets Association (VFMA) According to their website
"The (VFMA) tick symbol means King Valley Free Range Pork has been accredited by (VFMA) which guarantees we grow & make the produce we sell."

Free Home Delivery to :Beechworth, Wodonga, Albury, Corowa, Rutherglen, Shepparton, Benalla, Mansfield, Seymour
Melbourne & Surrounds Minimum of 5kgs for free delivery, or $30 delivery charge will apply.

Large Black Pigs do Pig in a Box which can be collected or delivered

So there are a few options. I will explore some of them further and report back. Please let me know if you have any experience or information to share on humanely raised, free range, affordable pork or any other meat for that matter.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Food Sage says it better...

Yet again I am going to link to The Food Sage a great blog for those interested in food and all manner of issues that surround it, I love reading her exquisitely written, thought provoking articles.

Essentially this entry eloquently makes the same suggestion that I am. That there is an opportunity for positive change through consumer choices, reducing meat consumption, adding vegetarian meals to our diet and wasting less of an animal by eating nose to tail.

The gist is that it is unrealistic to preach one answer. Vegetarianism may be a wonderful solution to issues of sustainability and animal welfare but only a minority will adopt it for ethical reasons. We all agree factory farming is the most hideous practice. If we could successfully lessen or eradicate intensively farmed meat by offering compromise solutions to the mainstream it would be a major win and a more likely outcome than a lofty ideal such as universal vegetarianism.

Please find the time to read the whole article here

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Free Range Eggs

This post will both inspiring and depressing yet hopeful on the subject of sourcing free range eggs.

Let's start with the bad. Animals Australia has a campaign running to stop large egg producers from farming 'free range' hens who will be producing eggs without ever having seen the sun if new standards are introduced.

The Australian Egg Corporation Ltd, the egg industry body, is considering allowing farmers to run 20,000 hens per hectare, currently there is a voluntary standard of 1500 hens per hectare. The proposal is that hens will be kept indoors for the first 25 weeks of their life but will start producing at 18 weeks.

This is an example of my suspicion that farmers much like any businessman will farm animals to produce at the highest rate possible with little consideration for their welfare. Worse still they are happy to latch on to a well meaning term like "free range" and bend it to suit their business objectives. Thus taking advantage of the inherent misrepresentation. Look at the cartons of many eggs and you will see hens roaming in green fields even on cage eggs.

I think animal products should be packaged similarly to cigarette packets with graphic images of the conditions and environment that this product was derived from. I know I'd be happy to pay more for the eggs from content hens in rolling green fields than the featherless cage hens.

So now for a delightful tale of 'free range' egg farmers who not only truly have free range hens they house them in caravans and move the hens overnight to greener pastures. This delightful lifestyle ensures that the chicken manure fertilises the property evenly.

You can read the full article here:

Please support Animals Australia's campaign to regulate the free range egg industry.

Please sign this petition to stop live animal export


This is a beautiful Brahman calf, the breed of cow that Australian farmers sell to the Indonesian market.
Australian cattle are being slaughtered in appalling conditions in Indonesia. Despite the government and cattle industry being aware of the situation for 10 years this barbaric practise continues.

Animals Australia and RSPCA Australia have joined forces to campaign against live animal export. Taxpayers are contributing to the current method of slaughter by the installation of boxes and training to enable Indonesian slaughtermen to pull the beast to the ground whilst contained in a box. These boxes were supplied because it is difficult and dangerous to ground the animal when not confined. The tools and methods of slitting the throat are unacceptably rough and long. The slaughterhouse staff obviously do not see the creature as an animal, they simply treat it as an object that needs to be moved and processed and using horrifying cruelty to achieve this objective.

Four Corners has prepared an extensive report if you wish to see it for yourself.

Watch it or not please sign the petition and donate to Animals Australia if you want to help stop this cruelty.

In relation to this blog's objective this is an extreme scenario however this issue strengthens my conviction that we need to be conscious of where our meat comes from, how it is treated and handled. I'm just about to purchase some more meat from The Farmer's Market to once again support Farmer Dan because I know that his animals are treated with respect and their quality of life is no less than they deserve.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Coles Supermarket - Hormone Free Beef

So, Coles Supermarkets are offering hormone free beef. They have set up their own supply chain of farmers who they deal with directly.

Clearly healthy meat is a priority for consumers and whilst this meat is not cruelty free and therefore does not satisfy my main concern it does signal the desires of consumers for change.

"Since we started the campaign, we've seen double-digit growth in that category," said Jon Church, Coles spokesperson.

I have mixed feelings about this new campaign.

However I am pleased that Coles is taking a stance on this issue. A large company like Coles has the power to influence a lot of people and they have certainly increased awareness in a way that no one else can.

The beef industry is kicking up a fuss claiming that Coles are damaging their business by suggesting that there is something wrong with hormones.

It is true that much of the beef produced in Australia does not contain hormones but 40% of it does. The use of Hormone Growth Promotants (HGP) has been banned in Tasmania and the EU due from what I can gather, unsubstantiated concerns of links to disease.

The beef industry cannot sufficiently prove that the hormones are safe and consumers should have the right to choose. This has always been my ultimate goal. I hope that one day consumers can choose not to buy the cheapest meat that is farmed in the cheapest possible way and they can opt to buy moderately priced meat and know everything about what it contains and went through before arriving on their plate.

This is a very small step towards a healthier and more humane choice but Coles is also stepping up their range of free range meat and organic meat and banning cage eggs for their in-house egg range.

Many people have declared that they don't trust Coles and that they are just money hungry. I couldn't care less whether Coles is doing this out of the goodness of their heart, for increased profit or both. I am buoyed by the fact that consumers want happier, healthier meat and even the large chains are beginning to take notice and offer it. The vast majority of the food Australians eat comes from Coles and Safeway, if they are open to change then there is a greater chance that it will happen and have maximum effect. This is only likely to happen if the supermarkets can make money out of it.

Wealthy people buying expensive organic meat is never going to achieve maximum impact.

Coles general manager of meat, Allister Watson has stated,

“Coles is aware of widespread consumer concerns about additives in food and livestock and animal welfare practices.

I do hope that consumer support for these initiatives will encourage Coles to continue along this track. I will be watching very carefully to see if this is the case. In the meantime I choose to support their organic and free range lines in between my orders from my farm direct suppliers.

For a more comprehensive opinion on this issue have a read of this great blog

Pork at The Farmer's Market

The Farmer's Market now has pork. Well they have some pigs and in the coming months will be able to offer pork. The pork will only be available if you purchase a beef or lamb pack. They have also added free range whole chickens and eggs and honey from Dan's own bees. Really I could just chuck this blog in because the Farmer's Market has everything that I was searching for but in the interests of impartiality I do intend to pursue more farms.

Have a look at the Farmer's Market for more info about the range of products they now offer.