Following on from our discussion with Morgan and Nia earlier this week, we return to the topic of National Butchers Week with Liz and Oscar, who are working with the Worshipful Company of Butchers Young Butchers group. The pair recently attended the first Young Butchers event, a factory tour with Butcher's Pet Care.
Liz explained the connection between Young Butchers and Butcher's Pet Care, saying: "Lucinda Baker, who manages our group, is the daughter of Graham, who runs Butcher's. The connection meant we had access to the factory, where we were talked through the background of the company.
"Initially, pet food was a subsidiary of the company but has eventually become the profit maker of the business. It was really enlightening to hear their story and see where we, as Young Butchers, would come in to the supply chain."
Oscar is currently a prospective member of the Young Butchers, amongst a number of Harper students who have been invited to try a few taster sessions with the group. He commented: "The Young Butchers were really welcoming and, without realising, I already knew a few of the members!
"Having a group like this is really useful as a someone breaking into the agricultural industry or even a farmer who has been in the field for a long time. Building connections with people who work in all parts of the agricultural supply chain can be beneficial in seeing the bigger picture and open a line of communication. Farming can be isolating but only if you let it be so."
Although both students are passionate about the meat industry, they are aware of the need to know more information to be both sustainable and economically viable. Oscar is currently working on a study around this topic. He explained: "We, as an industry, need to be careful that the information we share is as well founded as possible. I'm an advocate for combating misinformation.
"Therefore, I'm researching around the idea that if farmers are to reduce their carbon footprints, what would be the economic impact for them? To try and make a difference to the environment, there will be a cost - but I'm trying to find out who would support this so farmers may feel more comfortable with this agricultural shift."
Liz is equally interested in the discussion around sustainability. "My brother is a vegan," she said, "which has made for some interesting conversations over the dinner table.
"Like Oscar, I wouldn't want to spread misinformation. I can see how it is hard to have a constructive dialogue when stories are spun to benefit certain perspectives but I think it is important to listen, respect people's opinions, and to not be defensive.
"Instead, we should be educating, and sharing facts and research, about how to better help the environment in the agricultural sector."
On the difference in dietary choice, Liz said: "I can see that my brother is trying to do the right thing, as an individual making changes to save the environment. I do agree that we should be making moves towards sustainability.
"However, we often talk about food miles. Even if a product is supposedly better for the environment, looking at how far it has travelled may dramatically change the benefits. Food miles is definitely the thing to stress - eating fruit and vegetables that are in season in this country, rather than shipping around the world, is a great first change to make. Buying local is the way forward."
If you are passionate about food, being more sustainable and the environment, we have a range of degrees that teach about just that. Join us on our open day, March 21, and speak to academics and students about our degrees that matter. You can also read about Harper's own food miles in our blog post here.