Producer of the Month: John R Corsan, Cats Drove Herd of Gloucester Old Spots, Somerset
If you are looking for a unique wedding present this summer, why not buy the happy couple one of John Corsan's Gloucester Old Spot pigs from his Cats Drove Herd in Somerset. All you have to do is to choose a pig. Then, for the next six months, John will care and rear the pig up to pork weight. After butchering it, he will allow you to choose which cuts you would like and you will then receive 40-50kg of tasty British pork. If the happy couple don't have enough freezer space you could always share it with them…
John's Own-a-Pig scheme is the ideal solution for consumers who want to know exactly how their food has been reared and cared for. Gloucester Old Spots are a rare breed renowned for flavour due to their slow growth rate. John believes in happy, healthy pigs so they feed from grass and have no antibiotics. John also hires out his boar, Toller Gerald, for breeding purposes.
- Why do you do what you do?
When, ten years ago, the opportunity came to set up a free range pig system in Somerset, with my own herd of Gloucester Old Spots, I took it. I chose Gloucester Old Spots as they are a breed that thrives outdoors in all weathers and produce tasty pork. The Own-a-Pig scheme started in 2007 when, like all pig farmers at the time, we were unable to move stock off the farm. So, we came up with the idea of allowing people to choose a pig and we would look after it for them up to pork weight and have it slaughtered and butchered as they wanted, ready for the freezer. The cost of the pork is extremely competitive for 50kgs of rare breed pork, with a fixed price and no hidden extras. Provenance of food is becoming extremely significant and our scheme is for people who appreciate where their meat comes from and how the animal has been looked after during its life.
- What achievement are you most proud of?
Being asked to be Chairman of the Somerset Levels Best Community Interest Company. The Somerset Levels and moors are a unique landscape for food production from salt marsh lamb to asparagus.
- What is your most memorable moment?
One of my most memorable moments was when I received a letter from the daughters of one of my Own-a-Pig customers who thanked me for looking after their pig. She then proceeded to describe how they had eaten their pig, not quite for every meal, but nearly…
- If you were Prime Minister, what one thing would you do to encourage more people to eat British food?
I would focus on young children and educating them about British food. I would also stress the importance of food security. If we neglect home produced food in favour of imports then we leave ourselves vulnerable to pressure from overseas suppliers.
- What is your favourite food and why?
My favourite food has to be steak from a grass fed beast that has been hung for at least three weeks. My neighbour produces just such meat, which melts in the mouth, and this meat is complimented with fresh, seasonal vegetables.
- What are your predictions for the future of British food?
People are definitely realising the benefits, economically and nutritionally, of buying British, but we need to improve our labelling, to prevent any confusion amongst food buyers. We need to make sure that the public knows the high welfare standards of our livestock production methods compared with Europe. Education is part of the answer though organisations like Love British Food and LEAF.
- If you were an advertising executive what slogan would you use to promote British food?
Non better than British food for value and quality.
- Best budget tip?
Buy some British belly pork and slow roast it at the bottom of the oven on a bed of vegetables.
- What's on the menu this evening?
Home-produced sausages, sage and caramelised red onion, mashed potatoes and chopped cabbage, followed by local farmhouse cheddar from J Gould’s of East Pennard.
- How can people get hold of your produce?
We can be contacted via our new website and we welcome visitors by appointment to come and see our pigs and, hopefully, buy one.