Urban Food Market, Marrickville

I’ve always been a lover of animals. Throughout my years growing up I’ve had many pets, including horses, dogs, cats, fish, a turtle, a rabbit, and now, our two beautiful cats Satine and Isis. Being such an animal lover, I’ve often struggled with a feeling of hypocrisy due to my being a meat-eater who abhors animal cruelty. I don’t believe that humans need to eat meat at all, however, many of us choose to. Including me.

I choose to eat meat, and because of my choice I want to know where the meat I buy comes from. I want to know the animal was treated as humanely as possible, and with respect, before its slaughter.

Like many Australians, I tuned in to the Four Corners report ‘A Bloody Business’ on live exports to Indonesia on Monday 30 May. I thought it would be an informative program to watch, to see what live export is about. I didn’t realise how horrific it would be. It was honestly the worst thing I have ever seen, in my entire life. Paul couldn’t watch it, but I felt a need to watch the whole program and learn. After all, this is / was happening, the animals endured that torture, and my eyes were opened.

I, like many, was in tears. And even now as I remember the scenes of the cows falling on the concrete floor, their throats cut many times by blunt knives while they struggled to stand and live, their tails snapped by human hands… It’s overwhelming.

The days following the program I was off meat. Just the thought of steak made me think of the torture, and although we have very different standards in Australia, it has definitely made me think more about where our meat comes from.

How is our meat produced here? Is there a difference in animal welfare and other practices between the meat stocked neatly in plastic trays in Coles and Woolworths and the meat stocked in smaller butchers and suppliers? The animal is still being killed for our consumption in the end, but is a higher consumer cost for better animal welfare worth it?

Yes.

Free range eggs and chicken? Definitely. And I don’t mean Pace Farm free range eggs. After all, they still produce cage eggs.

But what about beef? Paul and I have been buying our meat from a small wholesaler for a while now, rather than the supermarket, but I wanted to delve a bit deeper. I had been reading about Urban Food Market on Twitter, and wanted to find out more about their sustainable, ethically produced meat, and what that really means…

The Urban Food Market warehouse, run by Tim Elwin, is located in Marrickville and opens on a Saturday – when you can buy quality produce and sample some of Tim’s dishes. We visited Urban Food Market last Friday night to buy a few supplies.

Tim is passionate about his ethically-produced range, and stocks grass-fed beef, free range chicken, pork and goat, as well as a variety of small goods. Their sausages, rissoles, and minces are produced at their Richmond processing plant using their Esk Pastoral Free Range Pork with their recipes, and the cured meats are produced at Salami Casa, which Tim says is “an old-school curing our meat out west, again using our pork etc”.

The fridge is stocked with vacuum-packed meat, including wagyu t-bones, goat necks, free range bacon, and spatchcock. There is also a larger cool room where the other goodies are kept – including wild rabbits.

Vine Drops provided excellent wine samples to go with Tim’s sampling menu, which was perfectly warming on this cold night.

Our first sample is the grassfed wagyu and double smoked bacon ragu. Paul and I reacted to this awesomeness with wide grins at each other, like kids that had stumbled upon a fantastic discovery – which seemed appropriate. We then wandered over to where Tim was dishing up some warming pots of soup.

Citty’s Chicken Broth is a revelation. We are instantly warmed and I was amazed at the depth of flavour within this clear soup. I had often wondered about the process when watching contestants make their own stocks on My Kitchen Rules for example, but didn’t really have a desire to try it myself. Tim stocks a free range stock made using the bones he supplies, but after us realising the difference in taste, Tim encouraged us to make our own and sent us home with a couple of kilos of free range chicken bones (results to follow in next blog post – sneak peak: the ‘real’ stock we made is SO good).

Next up was a Jerusalem artichoke soup, with free range bacon. Another revelation, it was rich and comforting; a bit sweet yet a bit sour, the bacon and olive oil drizzle really finished this off. We loved it so much that Paul’s bowl was almost spotless and Tim gave me the recipe – and a bag of Jerusalem artichokes to make our own!

Jarred sauces, oils, pasta, free range eggs

We didn’t buy any beef this visit, because we were after other meats… For around $50ish we bought a whole wild rabbit (we’re thinking confit), 1kg diced goat (delicious ragu), 1/2 kilo pork & fennel sausages, and a dozen free range eggs, along with the chicken bones and artichokes.

Our excellent food haul aside, what about the difference between mass-produced and sustainable, ethically-produced meat? What did we learn from this?

I asked Tim to explain it to me. He says:

“All the meat we sell is produced without growth promotants or any added hormones and definitely NO feedlots, NO cages, NO pens, NO concrete floors and NO Genetically Modified feed, simply animals grown the way they were intended to be grown. Naturally…”

And mass-produced meat?

“The mass produced is the complete oppositeโ€ฆ cages, pens, locked in barns, they often use Growth Promotants and antibiotics to keep the animals alive long enough to fatten them as quickly as possible etc. They screw the farmer to get the lowest price possible.”

Cheap meat for us must come at a price somewhere, right? And are you also wondering what sustainable meat actually means? Here’s Tim’s answer:

“Urban Food Market sources products which have been produced in a sustainable and natural way, this means that we support the whole process from land, animal, farmer and you… We partner with sustainable producers where-ever possible to source produce which has a minimal impact on our environment as we strongly believe that without sustainable measures, we will not be able to enjoy quality food in the future let alone enjoy the world we live in.

We give more back to the farmer, we ensure the animal and land is looked after and we ensure you get a product that not only has been produced in an ethical, sustainable manner, but one that tastes bloody good too!”

We’re not perfect in our household consumerism, we’re still learning and changing our buying habits around meat and vegetables (I have a long way to go in knowing and using in-season produce), and I realise that a lot of families may baulk at the cost of these meats, after all, it’s not cheap. But maybe it’s a case of thinking about eating better produced meat, less often?

I’d love to know your thoughts. Did you watch the Four Corners report? Does animal welfare factor into your shopping or eating habits at all?

Urban Food Market
http://www.urbanfoodmarket.com.au

Unit 1, 168 Victoria Rd, Marrickville
Phone: 02 9516 0601

Open to public every Saturday from 9am – 1pm
By appointment only outside those times or order online

Urban Food Market on Urbanspoon

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30 Comments

Filed under Butcher, Suppliers

30 responses to “Urban Food Market, Marrickville

  1. I’d love to try goat! What a great place to buy meat – I might add this to my list of places to buy from. I didn’t watch 4 corners, but I recall seeing similar footage on 60 minutes a few years back. It was awful.

    Following all of the mad cow, hormone chicken news in Europe, my Mum actually turned pescaterian and has been that way for about 10 years now. She has duck once a year at Christmas and from time to time she will try meat if it’s something extra special – a bite of a wagyu steak, etc. She loves her diet now.

    I go for organic or free range eggs, chicken and recently also pork and beef. I do it for selfish reasons (better for me), but I also take the animals into acocunt. Who wants to spend their life in a cage?

    • Thanks for your comment! Caged animals for the purpose of providing us with cheap food really is an awful practice.
      Goat is such a tasty meat – I definitely recommend trying it :)

  2. Fantastic post!

    I am heading to this market immediately!!!

  3. Great post.
    I didn’t watch the four corners thing, but wish I had.
    We only eat free range or organic chicken, eggs, meat.
    Yes, it is more expensive, but I would rather go without a day or two and know that what I am buying has been well looked after and enjoyed its life.
    I am going to go and check out this place. It’s nice and close to me.

  4. I didn’t watch it. I cry watching vet shows. :-|

    You meat haul sounds good! I’ll have to pay this joint a visit. (that almost made me sound slightly threatening…)

  5. Thanks for coming down and checking out what we do!

    We believe a happy animal produces a better tasting meat and ask everyone, whether they are buying from us or someone else, to start asking questions about where and how there food is produced. Especially in restaurants and they are a major driver for cheap mass produced meat.

    Slowly we can make our meat industry better and posts like this definitely help and for that I thank you!

    Cheers
    Tim

    • Thanks for having us Tim! :D

      Great point about asking in restaurants as well. I’ve noticed more cafes stating that they use free range eggs, but I can only imagine how many use cheaper, caged produce.

  6. A great post. We also buy our meat from Tim, who always gives fantastic customer service. You’re absolutely right about the price of meat – of course the supermarket stuff is poorer quality, less tasty, and the animals have often lived in crappy conditions. It’s worth paying a bit more for sustainable meat. I’ve been working part time whilst studying so I’m no millionaire, but we just eat good quality meat a couple of times per week, instead of poor quality meat every day.

    We’re also a member of a veggie co-op – I wrote a blog post about it here http://stitchybritt.blogspot.com/2011/02/vegies.html if you’re interested in setting one up. It is very cheap and will help you with seasonal eating!

    • Thanks for the comment. You make a great point: to eat good quality meat a few times a week, rather than poor quality meat every day.

      The veggie co-op is a brilliant idea! We (i.e. Paul) do grow herbs & vegies in our backyard, but not at a scale to be self-sufficient. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Brilliant brilliant post! I watched some of the Four Corners report – I had to keep flicking away from it as it was unbearable to watch. I’ve been haunted by it ever since and have started making monthly donations to Animals Australia to help them continue in their work. I really believe in what they do.

    I suppose I’m slightly heartened by the fact that animals in Australian abattoirs are bolt gunned before slaughter – but I still don’t know a lot about the process behind so much of the food I eat (chickens for example – how are they killed)? I would be wary about eating meat in a lot of places overseas after seeing Four Corners.

    We try to buy free range where we can – living in Western Sydney makes it harder to duck into places like Urbanfood. A lot of Western Sydney is about cheap food…grabbing a bargain.

    Good point re PACE eggs though – I’ll steer clear of them from now on.

    • Thanks for your comment Mel!
      I must say even the footage of the stunning shocked me. I’ve been completely ignorant to the slaughter process – but learning what I can now :)

  8. Tim does a great job with Urban Food Market! We got a gorgeous fresh goose from there for Christmas and he obviously have a very clear direction for his business :D

  9. Oops accidentally pressed post. I think our household does well with buying products where the welfare of the animal is taken into consideration. Growing up, my parents did not care about these things but interestingly after my parents tasted a free range chicken dish I made for them they were curious about buying free range chicken. I don’t know if I can get them to buy free range eggs but I’m not giving up :)

    • Thanks for your comments Lorraine. I remember your Christmas goose – it looked delicious. Good on you for introducing free range to your parents; I’m sure it would be hard to change the buying habit, especially if it’s not something that was really thought about growing up :)

  10. Wow, great post. I did not know about this place & we used to live in Marrickville. Definitely going to check it out! I buy grass-fed meat directly from the farm – aside from being more humane, it is also better for you & tastes better too. And always free-range eggs & chicken.

    Have you seen Food Inc? I recommend watching it. I did not see the 4 Corners programme, but will try to download it.

    • Thanks Natalie :)

      Which farm do you buy your grass-fed beef from? I haven’t seen Food Inc, but I’ll have to watch it. You can watch the Four Corners report here.

      • Ooops, totally forgot to reply to this. I’ve bought beef several times from Spring Hill – great product, but had a couple of problems with their service last time. Hopefully just a temporary thing.
        I have also ordered from Marion Plains Pastoral – it appealed to me because I could order exactly what I wanted, not just bulk packs. And it was personally delivered by the farmer – I had high hopes, but unfortunately we didn’t like the meat as much as Spring Hill.
        I order lamb from Drover’s Choice Saltbush Meats. They prepare the order to picked up from a market of your choice. Delicious!

      • Fantastic, thanks for letting me know! :)

  11. Didn’t see the show, I’m too sqeamish, but I have read about this sort of thing, and it is very distressing. Stephen had a hard time caring at first, because we don’t make much money, so I always had to remind him not to buy caged eggs and things like that, but now we buy our poultry and eggs directly from a farm on Cowpasture Rd that we know treats their animals ethically, and we’re always stressing quality over quantity.
    But a part of me, the part that used to go trapping with my dad as a kid, is shocked at the $50 for one rabbit when I’m so used to getting them for free!

    • Thanks for the comment Jasmyne. Buying your poultry and eggs directly from an ethical farm is a great idea!

      Just to clarify, the total cost of our shop was around $50 – the rabbit itself was $20 :)

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  13. When I was younger I didn’t really care much. Food was food and it was there for me to buy and eat and I didn’t worry too much. It wasn’t until I travelled to South East Asia for 3 months that the blinkers were lifted from my eyes. In Sydney, we are pretty much closed off from where our foods came from. But in places such as Vietnam, you are met with rice fields and farmers every inch you take. My friends and I booked a tour to a small town in the very north of Vietnam (towards the China border). The tour guide took us to the animal market where locals buy live animals to slaughter at home. It was busy. It was shocking. I cried so hard I could see pass my tears. I will not repeat the things I saw. It definitely forced me to realise where my food comes from and how it has been treated. I am now more of vegetable eater after this trip and the biggest advocate of free range products amongst my friends and family. Who seem not to be bothered. I hope that because of this Four Corners program people will be understanding and passionate about this situation.

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  17. Like Paul, I also cannot watch these shows – it hurts my heart too much to bear. The cruelty in the factory farming industry is the main reason why I’m vegetarian. Good on you for discussing this as most people prefer to ignore the issue. I think it’s fantastic that you’ve found a local cruelty-free butcher as these ethical specialists should absolutely be supported.

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