Food banter with Cleaver’s Organic Meat
14 Dec 2015
Sitting down to a nose to tail dinner by Pete Evans at Asana Capri, we didn’t expect to be regaled with tales from the organic meat industry – until we discovered we were sitting next to the team who supplied every beef cheek, marrow bone and beef tongue for the paleo event. Surprisingly, their tales just made us want to know more about where the products come from. A company dedicated to producing nothing but organic, free range, locally sourced meats, you’ve probably seen their products on the shelves at your local supermarket. But did you know all their meat comes from family run farms? Or that someone taste tests every single one of their products (now that’s a job we could really sink our teeth into)? See why we were curious to find out more? So we had a chat (not over another celebrity chef cooked dinner, unfortunately) to the team about what goes on behind the scenes in the organic meat business. How did Cleaver’s come about? Cleaver’s started as a single retail outlet in Sydney in the 1990’s with a sole focus on organic meat – we’re now stocked in Coles, Woolworths and leading independent stores. We’ve heard the Cleaver’s products go through some pretty rigorous quality procedures – what kind of standards do they need to meet? All Cleaver’s beef and lamb is certified organic. It must comply with the strict requirements of Australian Certified Organic, a third party organisation that provides organic accreditation. They are completely independent and have a very rigorous audit process. Cleaver’s pork products are also certified free range. We cannot currently source sufficient organic feed to produce organic pork. They are raised in a certified free range environment that is also RSPCA approved. Do you taste test your products? We sure do! If we don’t think that it passes the taste test then it doesn’t make it to the shelf. Nobody wants a product that doesn’t taste great – no matter how you raised it. Taste testing new product ideas is one of the best things about the job – along with great dinners at venues like ASANA. Can you explain the difference between organic and free range to us? Meeting a certified organic standard combines the highest standard of ‘clean food’ with the highest standard of animal welfare. Organic certification takes a farm 3 years to achieve. It requires the complete absence of pesticides, added hormones and antibiotics from the production system (among other requirements). It also requires that the animals be raised in a free range environment. Certified organic meat is raised in a ‘free range’ production system PLUS it is free from all synthetic chemicals, antibiotics and added hormones. Meeting only a certified free range standard means that the animals were raised in a free range environment, meeting the highest standards of animal welfare. It does not necessarily mean it is also meets the additional requirements of an organic production system. Something to be aware of when you buy ‘free range’ meat. Why is only sourcing organic, free range and grass fed meat so important to Cleaver’s? Because it mean’s having the highest quality product possible – something that is very important to the integrity of our products! And why source from family run farms? Firstly, it takes a lot of care and commitment to raise livestock organically, especially in large numbers. The commitment to do this and undertake the 3 year transition process is really only happening on family operations. Secondly, people in our business come from family farms. They have a very long term view about the sustainability of family farms in Australian agriculture. What is Cleaver’s pride and joy product? We’re proud of all of our products. At the moment we’re particularly chuffed about the new range of Cleaver’s Paleo products. It is a range of sausages and burgers that are entirely free of any filler or binder. Our Paleo products consist only of organic and free range meat, organic vegetables, salt and organic spices (depending on the flavour) as well as organic beef tallow in products that include sautéed organic onions. What sets Cleaver’s apart from companies selling other similar products? Cleaver’s offers the integrity and quality that everyone expects from organic and free range products. We’ve achieved this while providing product on a scale that makes them available to everybody through major retailers and independents. We do all of that while sourcing from family farms and remaining entirely Australian owned. Is nose to tail eating something you see as important? We see anything that contributes to a sustainable and responsible processes as being important. It’s good not to waste things. What happens to the cuts of meat that aren’t sold? Everything gets sold, it just depends on how it is going to be used. If it isn’t sold as a ‘sweet cut’ it will be sold for use in manufacturing (sausages, burgers etc.). Offals are sold separately. Nothing is wasted. We’ve seen pork belly, lamb shoulder and beef cheek come and go, what do you think is the next big trend? That’s a tricky one. Trends in the popularity of particular cuts tend to be driven by certain venues or chefs with a large media presence. The slow cooking/barbecue trend is getting a lot of attention at the moment. Cuts like Brisket are great for that. Where/what was the last great meal you ate in Brisbane? At ASANA with Gourmand and Gourmet of course! How can we get our mitts on Cleaver’s products? Cleaver’s products are available in Coles and Woolworths as well as independent supermarkets. If you find that your local store doesn’t stock the product you should make a point of letting the meat manager know. Their head office decides on which individual stores get the products and they respond to customer demands. Believers eat Cleaver’s. Check out the full list of products and stockists on their website.