Our Journey to Ethical Meat
Our journey to ethical meat is something that our kitchen and management staff came to an agreement on last year.
We wanted to know where the meat we serve in the Lodge Restaurant comes from and how it was reared and treated. Furthermore, we wanted to know that the animals were treated well and the farms that supply us care about environmentally sustainable progression.
We made it a priority for the 2017-18 business year, to source local meat that we believe matches the River Valley Lodge values and ethos.
Last week, we achieved that goal.
It started about a month ago, when we began sourcing our chicken from Bostock’s Organic Chicken Farm, located over the Ruahine Range near Hastings in Hawkes Bay. Organic chicken rather than free-range is an important differentiation to us, as they have two very distinct definitions in New Zealand. While there are codes of welfare/minimum standards around the definition of free-range, these are not legally binding or regulated and therefore can be used freely by poultry farms as an easy marketing catch phrase. Chickens marketed as free-range can theoretically be raised at the same density as conventional barn chicken houses.
Organic chicken farms on the other hand, are held to a much higher standard of welfare care than ‘free-range’ chickens. For a chicken farm to become certified organic, they are required to meet strict standards that are regulated by a certifying body. One of the standards organic farms are required to meet is that the chicken’s beaks cannot be clipped. The chickens are kept in much lower density, with greater freedom to move outside, giving them greater opportunity to express their “chicken-ess”.
Last week, we got our first beef supply of beef sent from Mangarara Station; a family-run, free-range eco-lodge and farm in Hawkes Bay. We believe they hold similar values as River Valley Lodge in terms of regenerative farming practices, and producing wholesome-healthy food.
We have been getting our own egg supply from our happy free-range chickens for quite a while now, producing more than enough for all our baking and cooking needs in the River Valley Restaurant.
As of last week, we are ecstatic to announce that all of the meat and egg products that we use and serve in the lodge roast dinners, we believe to be of a high ethical standard. We know where the food is coming from and are excited to serve it to our customers.