Dear friend of Scrumptious Reads, Shirley Harring, has recently launched a new service, Hand Sourced and we sat down with her to find out more…
Scrumptious Reads (SR): What is the inspiration and concept behind Hand Sourced?
Shirley Harring (SH): The concept comes from my belief that sourcing ethically raised produce directly from farmer owned and operated farms allows for consumption of a higher quality product than we would purchase in the majority of retail outlets.
Around 18 months ago, I began buying goods farmer-direct and sharing the spoils with a handful of like-minded, food loving friends. This group quickly escalated into double digits, and within 18 months had multiplied 300%. Toward the end of 2015 I decided to shift it up a gear and form it into something accessible to more consumers, and in turn, to increase the number of farms we could support.
The benefit is twofold: I want to serve the farmer and the consumer equally; and at the same time, build a platform for the voice of humane animal treatment without sounding evangelistic.
SR: What is your ultimate aim for Hand Sourced?
SH: The goal is to grow and maintain this budding network of select growers and farmers who are totally committed to what they do and why they do it, and match them with ‘educated palates’ – that is, anyone from the home cook to hatted restaurant staff who value food for its origin, ethicality and heritage; and in its whole form.
I am privileged to work with limited, rare and endangered breeds, heritage strains, and farms that support small yields of well cared for animals.
SR: How important do you think reconnecting to where our food comes from is and why?
SH: I’ll be rudimentary: Poo. Without pastured animals, we have no poo. Without poo, we have no poo bugs. Without poo bugs, we have no fertile soil. Without fertile soil, we have no plants. Without plants, we have no food for our animals. No poo, no us.
In my former career of teaching young children, it was a constant source of amazement at how many parents, as well as children had no concept of how and where simple basic foods were grown. There’s a whole generation out there who consider cooking to be a chemical meld of 3 boxes, a jar and defrosted protein. Open, mix and microwave: there’s dinner.
SR: Has there been any surprising questions / reactions since launching?
SH: Absolutely. People are ‘iffy’ and squeamish about killing food.
Rows of sanitized, plastic covered flesh on chemical Styrofoam trays are somehow more appealing than old-fashioned untrimmed cuts. We have de-humanised our meat production to a point where no one wants to know what happens ‘before’. As long as they can read on the pack it’s ‘had a good life’ and is ‘organic’ they go away happy and wallet poorer. Ignorance should not be bliss.
The availability (and industry standard) of buying boxed meat has become the norm for consumers and restraunters. People only want select cuts – just thighs, or breasts - from poultry, or only eye fillet from cattle. People don’t seem to connect how their preferred cut comes from a whole beast, and that lambs and pigs can’t grow an additional leg so they can gain an extra shoulder roast.
SR: What's the biggest misconception you think people have about eating local or sourcing their produce / ingredients locally?
SH: In a word: organic. It’s become a one-word phrase that’s bandied about for marketing and the true meaning of the word is becoming buried. The simple definitions ‘grown without the use of artificial chemicals’ and ‘related to, or obtained from living things’ are lost in a sea of claims. People are happy to connect to the word without looking at the chain of events that sit below it.
Organically raised? What does that really mean? Organically fed, organically grown, organically bred: something can be organically raised but still have come from genetically modified stock; something can be organically fed but still have had growth hormonants administered to hasten the growing process. It’s madness.
We find produce that has had no unnecessary antibiotics, no chemical intervention, no prophylactics or chemical growth hormones, and has been raised in pastures that grow free from pesticides, fertilisers, and herbicides. Many of our farms run on full biodynamic systems. Some are certified organic; for others their yields are so small, organic certification becomes cost prohibitive.
I get an amazing amount of joy and emotional reward from connecting with farmers who are so very passionate about their animals and love – and deserve- to be recognised and remunerated for what they do.
To read more about Hand Sourced Quality Foods and to order visit www.handsourced.com.au