Ian Warren, Philip Warren butchers

Ian Warren and his father, Philip, run the esteemed Philip Warren butchers in Cornwall – one of the leading suppliers of meat to some of London’s top restaurants. We chatted to him about sustainability in the meat industry and how best to discern your sirloins from your rib-eyes.

Tell us about Philip Warren Butchers

We are a family-owned and run business, based in Launceston, Cornwall. We have two farms: one on Bodmin Moor, where we keep cows, calves and young stock, and the other in the Tamar Valley, which is a great fattening ground. Our main aim is to provide a genuine and strong route to market for our farmers down here who can only farm traditional breeds. To do this we have to find customers that care about where the meat in their kitchen comes from and how it is handled throughout the farm to plate process.

How are you committed to sustainability?

Sustainable farming is all we have ever done, and ever could do. Our system works by keeping livestock that suit the land, which tend to be more traditional breeds that can survive on the moors. These breeds will grow and live on a low-input pasture-based diet and naturally convert pasture to fat. This means there is no need to feed mass-produced grain to unnaturally fatten the animal. Also, we work closely with our customers to combat over-farming and wastage by sharing e.g. one animal between different restaurants.

What should we look for when choosing a cut of meat?

So many people get sucked into the whole ‘marbling’ of meat but there are two types of marbling. One is the grain-fed ‘couch potato’ marbling, where the muscle is full of intramuscular fat globules. The other is the pasture-fed marbling which is less prominent and looks more like veins of fat running through the muscle. While the grass fed will help with the tenderness of the meat as the fat melts upon cooking, it will not provide great flavour. Generally, a naturally marbled piece of pasture-fed meat will provide a lot more flavour.

Cornish produce is really having its moment. What makes your meat so special?

Being so far south, our climate is generally a lot milder so our grazing season is longer and the cattle stay out on the moors all year round. Also, our livestock all live in their natural environment, meaning they enjoy relaxed lives, in a low-input farming system. Our business strap line has always been ‘meat as nature intended’, which I think sums it up pretty well

Summer is around the corner. What should we be throwing on the BBQ?

Whatever takes your fancy. But whatever it is, maybe take the time to visit a butcher and ask a couple questions about where your meat is coming from.

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