Jenny Goddard founded Real Food Hub, an online farmers’ market, where customers can buy high quality animal welfare meat and other quality products directly from the farmers & producers like Gazegill Organic. Emma Robinson’s family have been farming organically at Gazegill on the Lancashire/Yorkshire border in the Pennines for almost 500 years.
REAL FOOD HUB
Jenny Goddard founded Real Food Hub in May 2020 so that people could go online and buy directly from independent farmers, fishmongers, cheesemakers, brewers, distillers, grocers and chocolatiers, for delivery to their door. It means they can come to one online marketplace where they can be sure of finding traditional products from small-scale farmers with high animal welfare, from growers who use agro-ecological methods, and from producers of artisan beer, chocolate and cheese without having to search through scores of different websites.
We stand for Real Food – More A Product of Nature Than A Product of Industry.
Real Food Hub is finding a growing market as more and more people realise they are suffering from diet related illnesses, and that nutrition is crucial for both mental and physical health. People are also increasingly alarmed by the destruction of wildlife habitats and biodiversity by industrial, chemical-heavy monoculture agri-business, and are turning to food produced by traditional methods. Real Food Hub now sources from nearly 100 British small-scale suppliers. The meat is high quality and slow-grown from traditional breeds grazing on old species-rich pastures.
‘Supporting small scale British producers has never been more important… so that they can continue to produce natural food & drink that has more taste, more nutrition and is more ethical.
Ordering is Easy. There’s no denying that supermarkets are convenient, so our mission is to make it easy to shop directly with many smaller scale suppliers conveniently.’
Where Did All the Small Shops Go? Since the early fifties there has been a devastating decline of traditional independent and specialist food retailers. This is one of the main reasons why Real Food Hub is such a success.
For example in 1950 there were 43,000 small butcher shops in England, but by 2019 it was nearer 6,000. Likewise local fishmongers declined from 10,000 to around 950 and greengrocers from 43,000 to around 2,500.
Jenny’s mother belonged to a generation whose food was healthy and produced on wholesome, family-run farms with livestock raised outdoors and fed on local pasture or forage crops. She lived through a transformation in the way food is produced and the ways we buy it, and as if to prove the point, Jenny’s grandfather’s butcher shop was levelled to make way for a Sainsbury car park.
Jenny’s September 2021 article for the Sustainable Food Trust explains how supermarkets and factory farming have lowered the quality of our food and her vision for bringing back high quality food by preserving the unique heritage of traditional British farming along with rare native breeds of pigs, cattle and sheep.
‘I started the Real Food Hub because I wanted to provide an alternative to intensively produced meat, and I wanted to make it more convenient to buy directly from farms rearing heritage breed beef, lamb and pork for three key reasons:
- Animals live and thrive in their natural environment;
- They play an important role in preserving the biodiversity of our natural habitats;
- The meat is healthy to eat, produced without antibiotics and concentrates and grass-fed. It contains nutrients that help protect against many modern diet-related illnesses.
Real Food Hub producers rear small groups of animals on a small-scale, the way they were produced before intensive systems were widespread.’
Gazegill Organics, along with its own farm shop, supplies Real Food Hub with organic pork, lamb and beef from heritage British breeds. Emma Robinson’s family have been farming at Gazegill on the Lancashire Yorkshire border in the Pennines for almost 500 years, and now Emma and her partner Ian O’Reilly farm organically, nurturing the old organic hay meadows which have over fifty species of grasses, herbs and wildflowers for the animals to feed on.
‘We believe that every plant species has a food chain that stems from it and this in turn is what builds a rich, diverse and healthy local ecosystem.’
Ian and Emma live in the farmhouse with their 3 children next to Emma’s parents Jean and Tony, who farmed at Gazegill all their working lives.
Their pigs are traditional native English breeds, Oxford Sandy and Blacks, Saddlebacks and Large Blacks all of which are naturally easygoing and easy to work with. As a result of their diverse, species-rich diets and slow growth they produce excellent meat with a thick layer of tasty fat.
Together, they showed us their herd of organic, traditional English pigs feeding happily on apples and homegrown fodder.
‘We tend to prefer traditional UK breeds, they finish better, they’ve got a good layer of fat on them…. Slow-grown, they’ve got to be good for living outside, it doesn’t matter if they get rained on.
The customers come from just up the road, they can see the piglets running around, they know they’ve had a happy life.’
Their sausages, nitrite and preservative free, are sold in the farm shop along with other pork cuts, lamb from their Hampshire Downs sheep and beef from the Shorthorn cattle. Due to the animals’ rich natural diets, all the meats are rich in Omega 3, and have a strong unique flavour for which Gazegill received the Ribble Valley Business Award for Rural Business of the Year in 2015 and the Lancashire Life Food and Drink Award in 2016.
‘We know our produce is what it is because we farm from our heart, this way we truly know that we always do our best not only by our animals but for our nature too. A farm with no GMOs, no antibiotic residues, no pesticides or herbicides just natural grass leys and great habitat which we know blesses us with food that tastes as it should from animals that are allowed to behave as they should be.’
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