We’re all familiar with the concept of a sea-change. Getting sick of the city rat race and moving to a coastal town for a simpler life. I could only describe the career transition of Tim Elwin, Managing Director and founder of Urban Food Market as something of a meat-change. Tim spent 14 years in the corporate telecommunications world before branching out with his own telco experiential marketing consultancy business, Toy Phone Media and a little side venture called Urban Food Market.
The GFC was something of a double edged sword for Tim. As corporate belts were tightened across the world, brands begun to spend less on experiential marketing but his ethical meat business continued to grow as people latched onto the Urban Food Market ethos of sourcing the best produce direct from farmers and home delivering it. Within a three to four month period, meat went from being 20% of his business to 80% and it was time to become a fully fledged meat purveyor.
This meat-change was not just about a change of career for Tim, but changing the type of meat we buy. “Ethical Meat” is the term that Tim uses to describe the product he sells. It’s meat that has been ethically and sustainably produced. Sustainability begins in the paddock and continues through the supply chain right through to the end product. That means that the farmers are paid well, and the animals live in a healthy environment.
A prime example of this is the Esk free range pork. The animals spend their days roaming about their large paddocks on the banks of the Esk River in Longford Tasmania. The paddocks are located next to a business that makes fetta and the animals are the lucky recipients of some of the dairy by-products. Says Tim, “My personal belief is that if we are going to eat meat, we need to treat it with respect. If we are going to eat meat, it should be meat we eat, not a weird cocktail of chemicals.”
Unlike most supermarket pork products, this stress free life delivers a highly superior Pork that is naturally juicer which eliminates “moist infused” process seen in a number of pork products. (This is the practice of injecting water into the pork). While some products, particularly Ham require brine injections as part of the curing process, a 2008 Choice Magazine examination of hams showed that a major supermarket branded ham was found to contain only 53% meat and 38% water. Far more than necessary for the brining process. It just goes to show that cheaper meat is not necessarily value for money, despite the fact that the animals live in feed lots and the farmers aren’t paid as well.
As well as ethically produced pork, Tim also supplies ethically produced Mirragong grassfed wagyu beef, chicken, saltbush lamb, goat and game. It’s not just home chefs (including myself) who have fallen in love with this produce. Many of Sydney’s top restaurants including a number who received hats in the latest Sydney Good Food Guide awards swear by the meat from Urban Food Market. Indeed, Tim has collaborated with a number of restaurants to produce one-off dinners that showcase the produce. Chefs such as Jared Ingersoll from Cotton Duck, Adam Lord from Coast Restaurant and Jacqui Gowan from Burlington Bar & Grill are just a few of the chefs who have collaborated with Tim for Meatup™ dinners.
The dinners are held fairly infrequently so the best way to sample the produce is to head down to the Urban Food Market outlet in Marrickville on a Saturday between 9am and 1pm where a range of dishes using ethical meat are available for tasting. As well as meat, Urban Food Market also retails a range of other items on Saturdays. The ethos behind these other goods is the same ethos that goes into the meat. Says Tim, “We look for produce where you don’t need to be a Food Technologist to know what you are eating.”
The items include dairy goods from Country Valley Dairy, fresh fruit and vegetables (keep your eye out for the spectacular range of heirloom vegetables and exotic mushrooms) and other goods including fresh and dry pasta, sauces, smallgoods, house made meat pies and sausage rolls. If you are lacking inspiration, a range of recipes are available that incorporate the produce. If you’re not able to make it down on Saturday, meat can also be ordered online for home delivery.
I can safely say that sustainable meat isn’t just better for the animals, the farmers and the environment. It just tastes better. Last Christmas I brought home an Esk free range ham and a free range turkey. My family said it was the best they have ever tasted and they were right. Happy animals make for better tasting meat. The proof, truly is in the eating.
Check out this fabulous recipe for Braised Grassfed Wagyu Beef, Soft Polenta & Roasted Baby Tomatoes from Urban Food Market.
Urban Food Market