We are excited to announce the launch of our Well Balanced Range, a collection of our most affordable cuts offering the highest levels of nutrition with absolutely no compromise on ethics and impact. This range is for everyday eating, feeding large families and meeting nutritional demands without breaking the bank.
The Well Balanced Range is the brainchild of our Head Butcher and Business Development Manager Tom Cripps. [pictured]
"I am proud and excited to announce the Ethical Butcher’s launch of its Well Balanced Range. This is something that has been discussed ever since I joined the team back in November."
The challenge of carcass balance
The Ethical Butcher is a whole carcass producer, across all species. Whereas most meat vendors and even very large butchers buy in specific cuts, such as ribs of beef from the conventional supply chain, everything we sell is processed from whole animals only.
Each animal we buy produces an inventory of cuts, from prime steaks (ribeye, sirloin, fillet and rump) to roasts, braising cuts, mince and dice. A carcass yields more of some of these cuts than others, for example only two ribs and fillets, but many kilos of mince and dice. However the popularity of these items does not necessarily match the volumes produced, often creating an oversupply of certain items; what we in the trade call being 'overbalanced'.
This is such a common problem in the meat industry that most butchers opt for the easy option of simply buying ‘boxed cuts’ from wholesale suppliers. But this further compounds the problem from both ends of the supply chain: customers get used to always being able to buy what they want and the wholesaler ends up with cheaper cuts that need a different outlet.
As we buy whole animals direct from farmers, we have to figure out how to price our cuts so that we make an overall per-kilo profit on the whole animal, and this has to be based on what people are prepared to pay for certain cuts. It's a difficult decision and pricing is more closely linked to scarcity than it is nutrition. Ironically the most nutritious parts of the animal, which are the offal and connective tissues, are now the cheapest. The leanest cuts, such as fillet, are by far the most expensive, because the scarcity comes from the fact that a single animal might only provide a few kilos of fillet but hundreds of kilos of mince or stewing steak.
This is where our Well Balanced Range comes in.
The management team at The Ethical Butcher is made up of a diverse range of environmentalists: we have a couple of ex-lawyers, a filmmaker and an eco-minded brand strategist. The core that runs through our business is simply founded on making a difference out there, in the landscape of British Isles.
In steering people towards alternative cuts we’re encouraging a nose-to-tail mentality when eating meat. We’re looking to do this from three angles: environmental, nutritional and taste (these lesser cuts have incredible flavour).
If we look to other cultures these cheaper cuts are the most prized and the muscles meats less so. And there could be more to this than taste. Muscle meats are higher in an amino acid called methionine and relatively low in a different amino acid called glycine. There is increasing evidence that an imbalance in these two aminos can lead to the methionine being converted into an amino acid called homocysteine, which is highly reactive in our bodies, and there is some weak evidence that links high levels of homocysteine to heart disease.
Our bodies have systems to keep homocysteine in balance, including a process called trans-sulphuration. This process uses the amino acid glycine, hence the need for balance of these aminos. Other processes that reduce homocysteine levels, such as folate dependent remethylation, use folate, B12 and riboflavin, all of which are found in much higher amounts in offal than muscle meats.
Although the studies on this are not yet conclusive there seems to be enough evidence to suggest we should consider our glycine intake to balance the methionine. Apart from this, glycine also helps us with sleep, detoxification, wound healing, gut hearth and blood sugar regulation.
Probably the most accessible starting point for a nose-to-tail approach is bone broth. Humans have been consuming some form of this for 20,000 years and it is a nutrient powerhouse containing 17 amino acids (including glycine) and more than a dozen vitamins and minerals. It is also a rich source of collagen, which makes up 30 percent of the protein in your body. Collagen is the building block of connective tissues like cartilage, ligaments, tendons, bone, and skin. When simmered, it breaks down into gelatine and contains glutamine, proline, hydroxyproline, and glycine.
As a part of our new range we sell affordable bones for you to make your own broth using a slow cooker (which can be bought for as little as £30). Our partners Spring Broth also make a superb product, which you can buy from us ready-made from ingredients sourced with the same provenance as our meats.
Modern humans, it seems, are the only omnivores or carnivores that favour muscle meats over a more nose-to-tail approach. For example when a fox breaks into a chicken coop, it will eat the heads off many birds rather than munch though one whole carcass; it knows where the nutrition is and takes everything it can get.
This brings us to the thinking behind our signature product of the Well Balanced Range, which is our Fortified Mince, quickly becoming a bestseller of the whole business.
Our fortified mince is beef mince from our 100% pasture-fed regenerative animals, mixed with 20% liver and heart to balance these aminos and offer the maximum levels of nutrition at the most affordable price. It's great for people new to offal or those who just don’t yet enjoy the stronger taste of organ meats.
Total meat consumption
The more we move towards eating our way through an entire carcass rather than only a handful of cuts, the fewer of those carcasses we will need to produce! The overall effect of this will be to reduce the number of animals on the ground.
Eating with a more nose-to-tail approach ensures the resources that went into helping an animal to live and grow are not wasted; more efficient use of the carcass to extract as much nutrition from it as possible is the best way we can honour the life of an animal.
A single cow can provide us with roughly a million usable calories, which is enough to sustain a single human life for a year if we use all parts of the animal. From an environmental perspective we owe it to ourselves and to the animal to consume with gratitude and respect for the life that sustains us.