I’m not a big buyer of meat here in Italy, partly on animal welfare grounds. Italians don’t seem interested in free range; organic animals, whilst well cared for, are still kept in sheds. For me it’s the other way round – animals should be allowed to express behavioural patterns hardwired in their brains, and which drugs they’re given (if necessary) are of secondary importance.
It seems to be changing for egg production – I can now buy uova di galline allevate a terra (free range) eggs in my local supermarket, which wasn’t the case 5 years ago. But I still have to go to Ancona for free range chickens.
Meat purchase is also an issue of quality. My ‘Three Ladies’ butcher in Cingoli sells good beef, and they specialise the local white Marchigiana cattle, similar to the Chianina beef from Tuscany. But too often beef can be a bit bland. And it’s been something of a mystery to me why butchers only age the meat for 10 days or so, not 3 to 4 weeks as they do in the UK.
The animals are mostly slaughtered at a much younger age than in the UK. Only when the carcass has fat two fingers deep – a function of how mature the cow is – can the meat be aged for 3 weeks or so. So make sure you have a look at the joint or carcass before making your purchase.
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