The Swaledale Story
Years later whilst studying at Leeds University Jorge enjoyed exploring the Yorkshire Dales, and sourcing quality ingredients and specialist food items from local artisan producers. On a whim Jorge wandered into The Drapers Arms in London and told the chef about the fantastic produce he’d discovered in the Yorkshire Dales. Much to Jorge’s surprise and delight, the chef (Karl Goward) put in an order on the spot; Swaledale was born, and that fortuitous conversation in 2009 led to our very first delivery.
Jorge was a one man band with a refrigerated van, working directly with the farmers in Yorkshire to source heritage breed meat, and organically growing his network of chefs in some of the best kitchens in London. In need of a scale to weigh the produce, Jorge applied to The Prince’s Trust for assistance, and was successfully awarded a grant of £2,500 to help his fledgling business grow. Jorge and his trusty van became the link between two very different worlds, and it was by knowing the farmers first hand that Jorge was able to deliver more than just high welfare meat, he also guaranteed provenance.
What Swaledale stands for
Jorge was soon joined by his brother-in-law Charlie, and together they formalised Swaledale’s commitment to support small scale farmers, promote heritage and native livestock breeds, and supply customers across the UK with sustainable, traceable meat that’s Always Fresh Never Frozen®.
Swaledale is based in Skipton, and proud of it; we’ve become synonymous with whole-carcass, nose-to-tail butchery in Yorkshire, and for supplying the finest produce farmed on The Dales.
Time and attention is given to each carcass, which is prepared to order by our team of expert seam butchers; as a mark of respect nothing is wasted, we make use of every single cut. Some of our meat is dry-aged, cured, smoked over beech, or in the case of our award winning sausages, mixed with bespoke spice blends. We produce meat that is interesting to cook, flavoursome to eat, and evidential of why native breeds deserve our support and promotion.
By its very nature, whole-carcass butchery places a cap on how much can be obtained from a single carcass, therefore many cuts are only available in limited quantities or on a seasonal basis. We’re proud to operate in sync with our small scale farming supply chain, match the rhythm of seasonal production, and echo the lifecycle of livestock.
Swaledale has built relationships with a collective of like-minded farmers, the real heroes of The Dales, without whom the preservation of native breeds would not be possible.
We’ve also fostered connections with some of the most discerning chefs across the UK, who’ve become great friends and often visit us, and our farming partners in Yorkshire.
Why we believe in native breeds
Historically in the UK we farmed traditional breeds, well-adapted to our climate and able to flourish on the terrain. Take for example the hardy Belted Galloway left to graze on The Dales year round, they don’t just survive there, they thrive. The Beltie's natural ability to forage acres of relatively rough grazing, and convert this low level nutrition into stunning, highly-marbled beef, makes them ideally suited to their surroundings.
The mass commoditisation of meat for low priced supermarket-style retail has favoured fast-growing, lean, and high-yielding continental breeds. The life span of these cattle is usually short to optimise profitability, with the cost of supplementary feed being measured as it converts to grams of meat on the carcass. Slower maturing, grass-fed, native British breeds live for years longer than commercial breeds, and in terms of fat content, texture and depth of flavour, there is no comparison. Consumers are often amazed by the difference in taste, but this should come as no surprise when you consider the difference in their lives.
Looking around The Dales we can see change, the number of Dexter, Belted Galloway and Highland cattle dotted across the landscape is on the rise. We’re incredibly proud to be at the heart of this revival, witnessing the regeneration of heritage farming and reintroducing native breeds to your kitchen. By choosing to farm in this way, choosing to butcher in this way, and choosing to eat in this way, we are standing together in conscious support of heritage breeds and small scale independent farmers.
We are the link between the independent farmers on The Dales, and yourselves, the ethical home cooks, and the imaginative restaurant chefs. We promise meat that's Always Fresh Never Frozen®, sustainable, 100% traceable and the best of what's farmed in The Dales.
There will always be an easier, cheaper and more consistent source of meat available to you, via supermarkets or an imported source, however together, we've chosen to take the harder, longer road, because that is where the real reward lies.
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