People of Britain. The time has come. Can you rise to the challenge of cooking and eating more steak?
BY MO METCALF-FISHER
Who’d have thought cooking and eating more steak at home was a requirement important enough to warrant a full scale PR campaign? Well, the reality is it has become incredibly necessary to do so.
The impact Covid-19 has across almost every aspect of our lives continues to shock us daily. The subsequent lockdown is forcing us all to think more about the domestic food industry in a way we probably haven’t done before. Among the many people suffering as a result of lockdown are our farmers, whose livelihoods are being hit on several levels; from a decline in dairy sales, resulting in gallons of milk being poured away, to potato growers struggling to shift their stock to their usual buyers like pubs and chippies.
Discussion over the last couple of days has focused on the decline in purchase of select meat cuts, in particular cuts of beef. As with every aspect of farming, the closure of restaurants and eateries across the country has had a direct knock on effect for our beef farmers. According to figures from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), some 20% of beef is consumed when eating out. However, the lockdown means that cannot happen and recent reports now suggest that stocks of top beef cuts are building in processors’ cold stores. This is because, when it comes to being at home, we are much less likely to purchase and serve up dishes like steak.
I’ll hold my hand up and admit that I too am one of those many consumers. As much as I love a steak (just thinking about it now has me longing for it), it’s something I opt for when I go out for a meal. And, although I always want to help farmers, I tend to stick to purchasing mince beef when preparing home meals. Not only is mince incredibly versatile, but it is affordable. The reality, however, is this is hitting farmers hard because, in order to meet the demand for mince, processors have been forced to mince higher value hindquarter and steak cuts, leading to a drop in the overall retail value of the carcase. In turn, this means a drop in the potential returns back to beef farmers.
As a result, the NFU and AHDB are encouraging more of us to buy steak when shopping, so as to bring the restaurant night experience home and, in so doing, help farmers.
Although many want to support British farmers, asking people to splash out a little bit for alternative cuts of meat is not an easy ask at a time when many of us are doing what we can to balance the books. But luckily there are options.
Supermarkets are doing more deals on a greater number of cuts of meat and local butchers will be able to cater to your budget. I was fortunate enough to pick up two sirloin steaks in Tesco for £7, which will make for an incredibly tasty treat.
Morrisons have gone ever further, slashing their fillet, sirloin, and ribeye – and rump steak prices will be slashed for their new Steak & BBQ Bar. An 8oz fillet – normally costing £7.04 – will cost just £3.52. A typical restaurant fillet steak costs more than £20.
So why not consider making steak night a regular thing? Steak is a fun and delicious meat to cook that goes with pretty much anything. Whether, like me, you like it rare with a big dollop of bearnaise sauce and a side of chips, it’s equally as good with a bit of mustard and served with fresh vegetables too. What matters is we do what we can to buy it, where we can, and make use of these great offers. In doing so, we will support our British beef farmers through these uncertain times, all while enjoying a superb meal.
For inspiration on how to prepare simple yet delicious steak dishes, please check out the #MakeIt hashtag on twitter.
Mo Metcalf-Fisher is a political commentator and spokesman for the Countryside Alliance. Follow him on twitter: @mometfisher