Posts Tagged ‘butcher’

Bumper Crop of Apples, time for Farm shops to act as community juice/cider maker?

Bumper crop of apples

Bumper crop of apples

This year there is a bumper Crop of Apples, many falling to the ground and wasted. We see this as a great opportunity for Farm shops to win customers by acting as community food hero and invite locals to bring their apples to make juice or cider.

We think farm shops should try and become the centre of their local food community and differentiate themselves from the supermarket as much as possible.

This can be done with fresher, local, fruit & veg, cheaper prices, better service, pick your own, animals around the car park, nature trails, tastings, cookery demonstrations, courses, crop for the shop, food swaps, and seasonal open days like, apple day, where locals can bring their apples and bottles to be pulped and juiced using the Farm Shop’s juice press.

Fiona at the Loch Arthur Farm Shop

Fiona at the Loch Arthur Farm Shop

Every community should really have an orchard and apple press, after all ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’. As most communities have a farm shop it seems to make sense to make the shop that centre. Especially if locals are encouraged to switch from the supermarket to buying from the shop and even growing produce to sell in the shop, with our Crop for the Shop scheme, or cooking to swap food at the shop on special food swap days.

People who love making cakes can swap a cake with someone who loves making stew, then do the rest of their shopping before they go home. All bringing new customers to the farm shop.

Switch from the supermarket? YES, we must. Perhaps not completely at first, try the local butcher or farm shop every week, (using our local food map) and the supermarket once a month for washing stuff, loo rolls, etc. You should save money, get better food and encourage more local production.

So the next time you visit your local farm shop mention apple day, crop for the shop and food swaps. If they are keen and not on BigBarn please tell them to contact us.


Supermarkets about to rip us off, again.

Fair, pricing?

Fair, pricing?

Supermarkets are all talking about sourcing British meat after the Horse Meat scandal. Will they add a fair mark-up on what they buy it for? Or will they do what they did with organic foods and add a higher profit margin because people perceived it to be better than non-organic.

Commercial profit making businesses will fix their prices on what they think the consumer will pay. Not on a fair mark-up on what they paid for the product. For organic produce this meant that all the Soil Association’s hard work promoting the benefits of ‘organic’ simply allowed the supermarkets to increase their margin and make more profit.

Your friendly local butcher

Your friendly local butcher

Many people predict this will now happen with British beef, pork, lamb and poultry. Foreign imports will not get the same high mark-up and consumers will notice the difference.

The supermarkets will then say ‘We made a special effort to source British meat but the consumer sent a clear message that they could not afford it’!

Your thoughts on this are very welcome below, especially any supermarket pricing manager!

The better way is to shop locally for your meat either from your local butcher or farmer. And ask lots of questions about the right cut, provenance, and price. You should get a better product and by cutting out the middlemen, save money.

More food scares coming to a supermarket near you!

Cheap, and nasty?

Cheap, and nasty?

Thank you Tracy from Pigbusiness for mentioning BigBarn on last night’s Channel4 News. The horse meat scare has not gone away yet and is a classic example of how corporates and a very long supply chain are not good for us.

Findus was bought by a private equity company from Nestle in 2000 with the objective to make profit. Either by avoiding tax or by cutting cost. Managers all along the supply chain for frozen lasagna, were instructed to cut cost and, I would guess, special checking procedures were also cut. So scares like horse meat were bound to happen.

The BigBarn local food map

The BigBarn local food map

And many predict, will continue to happen as other ingredients are tampered with, or in time, changed to reduce cost. A number of experts, for instance, are very worried about the quantities of anti-caking agents used in the manufacture of ready meals. These contain nasties such as sodium aluminosilicate that, some say, cause dementia.

The fantastic news is that there is a better way, and not expensive. COOK local ingredients. You can ask the producer questions about how the food you buy has been produced and know that because his local reputation is at stake, he will tell the truth.

Fiona at the Loch Arthur Farm Shop

Fiona at the Loch Arthur Farm Shop

Your local food will not have the cost of; a very long supply chain where every participant has taken a margin, haulage costs, marketing, fat cat salaries, packaging and Tesco markup.

I would expect most people will be a able to make a lasagne using local minced beef for not much more that the Findus product. Or cheaper if lentils are added to the meat sauce mix!

All we need to do, as a nation, is change our attitude to buying food, and cooking. Enjoy getting the story of your food from your butcher or local producer. And cooking is not a drudge. Let’s all get in the kitchen to create and celebrate!

Shocked to see horse meat in burgers and ready meals?

Beautiful Little Girl Eating A Cheeseburger

Should we be so shocked to see horse meat and other hidden dodgy ingredients in a food industry that has such a long supply chain and dominated by huge profit focused corporations?

It started with traces of horse meat in Economy Tesco Beefburgers. 3 weeks later, a reported 100% of the stated ‘beef’ in Findus Lasagne could be horse meat. And some may contain ‘bute’ a pain relief drug for horses that can cause the serious blood disorder aplastic anaemia in humans.


It seems amazing that such a well known, and ‘trusted’ brand could allow this to happen. However, brands like Findus are traded between multinational companies, and the length of the supply chain, including foreign suppliers, put continual pressure on cost cutting. As a result cheaper ingredients are almost bound to appear.

Perhaps this ‘scare’ will encourage more people to look at the label. Like the economy burgers I once found in a school kitchen that were mainly water, rusk, reconstituted chicken (bone, connective tissue, skin) and only 8% beef heart, (yes the heart, not steak or mince). It was amazing to find the burgers I was making from local, grass fed, mature, lean, mince, cost only a fraction more.

Your friendly local butcher?

Your friendly local butcher?

A butcher on our BigBarn map last week told me that new customers were coming in to the shop and talking about the horse meat scandal. He was delighted with the new business and took extra time to talk about where his meat came from, and his competitive prices compared to the supermarket. He also told me that if he had added horse meat to his burgers, locals would have thrown bricks through his window.

No one has thrown a brick at Tesco and my butcher friend is rather frustrated that their clever marketing may protect them.

The BigBarn local food map

The BigBarn local food map

Since we launched BigBarn 12 years ago we have been warning about the dangers of the national supply chain and trying to build a shorter, more transparent, local food supply chain.

Since 2001 then we have experienced BSE, Salmonella, and foot and Mouth, food scares and I am sure we will see more.

So if you want to know where your food comes from type your post code in to and our local food map will show you local suppliers. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your demand will encourage further production and help build a more sustainable LOCAL food supply chain.

New BigBarn ‘About us’ video

Here is our new ‘About us’ video to explain why we exist, what we believe, do, and why.

Our ‘Mission’ in modern business language.

We are often told that there is too much on our home page, our banner does not say what we do, our map is complicated and our blogs too controversial. So we will be making some changes, and as you are part of our community (you can read more about this here), we welcome your feedback below or to

Are we too late to help local producers and retailers?

Have we all become too addicted to the supermarket? Loyalty schemes, special offers, convenience, and perception of value?

What would make people change? Cost, convenience, quality, responsibility to community?

To encourage change: Our ‘£’ flag on icon shows hundreds of farm shops, butchers, etc on BigBarn are cheaper than the supermarket, do you believe that?

A video flag helps producers tell their story and show what is different and special about them.

People can make money from growing your own with our Crop for the Shop initiative.

Is this enough to encourage more people to switch to buying their weekly food needs locally? And leaving the other goods for the supermarket, once a month?

Your feedback is welcome. And please send this to your friends.

Real Beef, how to save money.

What a great and versatile meat. And a prime example of the difference between buying a quality local product and a mediocre supermarket commodity.

The trouble is, Beef is complicated, breed, time and type of hanging/maturing, age, different cuts, butchery method, type of feed, cooking/resting, are all factors influencing taste and tenderness. And why so many people opt for what little they know and often pay far too much.

A great example is my cousin who bought the finest ‘fillet’ of beef from a supermarket only to throw most of it away because it was so tough. A piece of well-hung ‘topside’ would probably have been half the price and twice as good. Likewise the ‘chopped shin’ of a well-hung rare breed animal could be better and cheaper for stewing, than the more expensive ‘best stewing steak’ from the supermarket.

The great news is you don’t have to go to college or even buy a book, simply ask. Use our local food map and go and see your local butcher or better still, local beef farmer and ask what they recommend as well as how to cook it (resting after cooking is crucial, at least 10 minutes, especially steak!). It is in their interest to look after you, as they want to see you buying again.

So all you have to do is use our map to find your local beef, or for a delivery check our MarketPlace for beef and don’t be afraid to phone first and get a recommendation. And for inspiration try our recipes.

BigBarn Crowd Funding Opens Today

BigBarn Crowd funding went live today.  Please have a look by clicking here and we welcome your comments below.
Crowd funding is BigBarn’s way to raise funds to capitalise on success, as well as gain the buy-in of those on the BigBarn map and consumers wanting a local food industry to compete with the supermarkets.

The investment will be used to make improvements to BigBarn’s in house technology as well as raise awareness to products and services through marketing and PR.

Buy-in will be interesting. BigBarn is a CIC meaning fat cat salaries cannot be paid and profits have to be reinvested in the business and distributed to investors. Essentially BigBarn wants to build a Local Food industry that is owned by its communities of producers and consumers.

Surely a great ambition, so please click here to see more on investing or visit the BigBarn home page.

For more on BigBarn and crowd funding see this post. And we welcome your comments below.