The label surrounding spring lamb continues to confuse us as consumers, and here at GrowEatGather, we are also caught up in this mutton minefield!
At the beginning of this issue we introduced you to the wonders of British hogget as the best option at this time of year, and since visiting Organic Sheep farmers Jonty and Mel at Conygree Farm our love for lamb’s more mature relative has only grown
Although us Brits have had a long association with eating spring lamb this time of year, the term ‘spring’ technically refers to lamb born and nursed during the spring months, rather than eaten over the easter period. Spring lambs’ succulent, sweet meat is best enjoyed in late summer/early autumn after an extensive period of grazing on luscious nutrient-rich pastures; but still spring lamb seems to be available on market from early April.
Learning from Organic farmers themselves, Jonty talks in our latest film about the unsustainable and unhealthy nature of British spring lamb available now. Young lamb meeting this premature commercial demand has resulted in an industry of indoor-reared lamb, purely fed on hard feed, unfortunately often with not a field insight.
With opposite seasons, imported New Zealand spring lamb is at its optimum and therefore explains why we still see our supermarkets shelves stacked with non-british varieties. Although environmentally friendly and sustainably reared, this lamb will travel a massive 11,500 miles to your dinner plate. The answer surely therefore has to be hogget.
Sweet, succulent, nutritious meat that has been allowed to slowly mature over a 12 -18 month period, British hogget seems to be the perfect option. Reared on grass rather than hard feed not only ensures the better welfare for the animal, but the quality of the meat, and significantly reducing its fat content.
Our British sheep farmers do a fantastic job at producing some of the world’s most superior meat, however, we strongly believe that lamb should be enjoyed in all its glory; when the animal has had time frolic and graze in rich vegetation reared in a healthy and sustainable manner.
Allow British lamb to mature with time and outdoor space, and anticipate its arrival in late summer/early autumn. In the meantime, let’s celebrate the beauty and versatility of its more mature relative, the hogget, and in turn promote the sustainability of quality British Sheep farming here in the UK.
Words by Helen Upshall