Thursday, 5 May 2011
I think Alex Oxspring would probably hate me saying it but I think he's a bit of a renaissance kinda guy.
Commercial airline pilot, stockbroker and for the last 6 years farmer and producer of charcuterie. And as you can see by the above picture, none too shabby in the handsome department either...
I first tasted his air-dried ham last year and was blown away by how good it was AND that it was made in Gloucestershire in the South West of England!
His decision to leave the city and embark on a new journey to make a British equivalent to prosciutto has been an arduous one but has resulted in an amazing product.
ATF - So talk to me, pigs, welfare?
Alex - The breed of pig used is a Large White x Landrace, this is the pig that the Parma consortium uses and makes up more than 90% of what commercial farmers produce in the UK.
What is more important is how they are farmed and the welfare standards employed.
I can say with confidence that UK pig farmers lead the way with regard to pig welfare and although there are EU laws to impose a standard of welfare the UK are the best at adhering to these laws.
Some countries simply ignore them and are not forced to comply with the law.
The health of an animal can be witnessed when dealing with the fresh product after slaughter and I make sure that I only buy from farms that consistently provide me with a good standard of product.
I do not state this as part of my branding but the majority of the pork legs I buy come from farms that have Freedom Food accreditation and I’d say about 30% at the moment are organic.
However I stress the importance lies in the quality of the farming (welfare, husbandry etc) not all these buzz words "Free range, organic etc."
I think I already play a valuable role in buying a significant amount of stock from local pig farms and selling a product within a local geographic area but would hope to play a far greater role in supporting UK pig farmers and paying them a fair price for their product.
Parma ham is coming into the United Kingdom at historically low prices but at the end of the day if I can give the consumer a local option at a competitive price then it is a more sustainable option.
ATF - Any secret herbs and spices?
Alex - No secrets just salt, air and time.
I'm thinking there might be a little bit more to it than that, passion, patience, craft and hard graft spring to mind...
You can contact Alex direct at Oxsprings or HEFF , I would.
Love Food X
Ps. Sorry put wrong email last week, eek! firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to know about the pop-up dinners we're doing x
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