Red Tractors…not Massey Ferguson or Case tractors but the little red tractor you see on food.
I’ve been reading quite a lot recently about the Red Tractor label, and it’s definitely becoming more visible and understood especially with Alex James as their ambassador, championing the cause. The Red Tractor even has its own website, which is full of information and resources about food sourcing and what the Red Tractor means.
Even before I was a farmer’s wife, I was interested in where food came from and was keen to buy British where possible.
But now it’s more important. I have a husband who claims not to read, but still insists on reading food packs to check where food comes from and moans if it could have been British and isn’t. Having a child means I want to ensure he grows up understanding where his food comes from, and to buy local where we can (and when time allows).
We’re lucky in that we get beef, lamb and sometimes pork off the farm which means it’s only chicken, bacon and ham we tend to need to buy on the meat side. Supermarkets are getting a lot better at offering British meat (it’s depressing when you have to search high and low for non-Danish bacon, and end up having to buy the most expensive ranges to get the British meats. Having an easy visual sign like the Red Tractor to spot rather than having to read detailed packs does make life easier when you’re trying to whizz round the shops. Now I just want to see online retailers having better descriptions and stating whether the item’s British as some of them rely on you zooming on the pack to check the actual packs. Anything to make life easy for busy working mums is good in my eyes.
We do have a couple of very good local butchers, but weekends can sometimes be a struggle to get to them as they require a special journey away from our main nearby town. The in-laws told us about a good farm shop nearby as well which is open on a Sunday, so that’s another alternative for us when there’s nowhere else open on Sundays). It’s great finding out about these places, and N really enjoys being able to carry a basket around the shop, and old fashioned butchers shops are always more interesting for toddlers to stand against the glass counters, pointing to all the different meats and asking questions about them.
It also works out well when you want to buy a specific amount. With supermarkets you’re restrained to buying whatever pack size (unless they have a counter service – my experience has been that they don’t have they cuts I’m after, or that it’s not been British, so I don’t tend to bother unless I can’t find what I’m looking for on shelf), and unless you’ve got a huge freezer, you could end up buying more or less than needed. Mind you, our nearest butcher always knows everyone and chats away, so it’s not always the speediest visit to go there.
To me the Red Tractor’s a sign of trust and an easy indication telling me that the produce has been grown in Britain and following the standards that are set. It also helps me support British farmers, and when you’re involved with farming, or if you know farmers, it’s good to know you’re supporting them. It’s one of the signs that probably most people recognise and understand, compared to some newer labels that can be more confusing and don’t really stand for things I’m interested in.
I’m definitely off to visit the website again so I can download some of the children’s resources to check if there’s anything suitable for N. Farming is his favourite thing (still), although he’s more of a green tractor fan than red at the moment!
Disclosure: I’m writing as a Red Tractor Recruit, although I’ve chosen to write this post and all opinions and views are my own. Alex James is supporting the Trust the Tractor campaign.