Wealden shops and farmers’ markets beat food scares

Tottingworth Farm, Heathfield. Sarah Wareham and KimTrigwell
Tottingworth Farm, Heathfield. Sarah Wareham and KimTrigwell
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Wealden families are letting their purses do the talking when it comes to telling supermarkets what they think of the horsemeat scandal.

Roger Hoggins who runs Uckfield and Crowborough Farmers’ market, said: “This scare wouldn’t be better for farmers’ markets than if local butchers had instigated it themselves.

“I’ve had one butcher who does business in London as well as here say to me he’s almost fed up with shoppers talking to him about it.

“He said he tells his queues of customers: “None of my meat has a saddle or bridle on it.””

The CLA South East says that buying meat from a trusted local butcher is the best way to guarantee that what you want is what you get.  

Tottingworth Farms in Heathfield rear their own British Blue, Galloways and Limousin cattle and sheep and regularly scoop up top prizes at county shows.

As well as the farm, Tottingworth runs an abattoir and farm shop which sells sausages, meats, dairy produce, sauces and chutneys – all local.

Boss Sarah Wareham said: “Our business was 25 per cent up last week.

“At last people now believe what we’ve been saying ourselves for years.

“Now they really want to know exactly where their produce comes from.”

Kevin Page, from Uckfield Meats on Framfield Road, agrees.

He said: “Our business is certainly up by a fair bit.

“I check the source of all my meat and graze cattle myself.

“It’s all word of mouth though – people talk about the meat they’ve bought here and the business grows.

“We’re a very traditional butchers and last year we beat 25 butchers to win the ‘best sausage’ in East Sussex.

“If I wouldn’t eat something myself I wouldn’t sell it to my customers.”

At Heathfield’s WJ Crouch, Michael Goodsell told the Express: “We buy from Tottingworth and our meat is all as local as we can get.

“We believe in traceability and we can tell customers exactly where their meat is coming from.”

CLA director Robin Edwards explained: “Revelations that some processed beef contained over 60 per cent horsemeat came as a shock and it underlines what we have been saying for years – shopping locally brings fresher food which is traceable.”

He pointed out legislation means British farmers have to adopt higher animal welfare standards than many of those applicable elsewhere, even in the EU. This means pigs and veal calves must not be crated or caged. The UK customer also chooses free-range poultry.