Eating Welsh Rare Breeds

Eating Rare Breed Meats in Wales

At food festivals, I’m always drawn to the vendors that supply cuisine that doesn’t appear on display in the grocery store or listed on a menu. At the Lampeter Food Festival in Central Wales, the tent serving rare breed meat reeled me in. The pork was presented in a familiar style: stuffed into sausage casings, though mixed with unexpected complements like apples and leeks, and jabbed with toothpicks.


I plucked up these viands and sampled each sausage. Each flavorful morsel was better than the next. “What exactly is rare breed meat?” I asked the owner of Hedgerose, a micro-farm celebrating their first anniversary.


The proprietor placed down her spatula and allowed for the sausages to sear on the grill. “We’re using animals that have gone out of fashion for farmers,” she said, explaining that certain breeds of pig like the Welsh, red-haired Tamworth, and British Saddleback were not commonly used in this age of factory farming. Today, when the time between birth and slaughter is seen best when reduced and big business wants to see a higher meat-to-fat ratio, these three little piggies, which were once abundant on British farms, were abandoned for faster growing and less fatty stock. But a number of farmers throughout the United Kingdom have continued the tradition of rearing rare breed livestock.


“These primitive breeds,” Hedgerose’s proprietor continued, “are ideally suited for free range farming, are better able to cope with outdoor conditions, and are a more flavorful meat, which you don’t get with a quick growing pig.”


Eating Rare Breed Meat


Since rare breed animals take longer to mature, their tastes are enhanced. Think of Hedgerose’s pigs as individual porcine slow-cookers. They are a more delicious meal. Additionally, these rare breeds were fastidiously bred and naturally selected over long periods of time, making them best suited for their specific environments, which meant that raising these animals—as opposed to the quickly-introduced commercial creatures grazing (doubtfully) on farms today—was most efficient for the land as they were best suited to eat what grew naturally there.


Our farming and food culture has changed in the last few decades to be more commercial and less salubrious. Thus, we’ve only witnessed the tip of the iceberg that is factory farming. The animal husbandry of rare breed creatures cannot end—for we would only be left with our inexpensive and drugged-out Frankenstein’s monsters. It’s just too early to know the consequences of losing these animals that nature had determined best suited for land and consumption.



Posted on by Noah Lederman in I Ate What?

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