As I have mentioned many times in my blog, I believe that one of the reasons we have so many food intolerances is because of accidental overconsumption of wheat thanks to the manufacturers and supermarkets adding cheap and unnecessary fillers to foods for so many years. Sausages are a perfect example of this. Many have such a low meat content and so many worrying additives that it is amazing, in my opinion, that they are deemed fit for human consumption. At the least they should carry a health warning.
Even before we had the problems with Zac, we always shopped carefully and always made a point of buying sausages with the highest meat content possible. We don’t eat them that often, once a week I guess, so I don’t mind paying a bit extra for a premium product. I would rather have no sausages than a poor quality one.
In recent times, we have noticed two new brands creeping into the ‘premium’ sausage section in the chillers. Debbie and Andrews and the Black Farmer. We have tried both and can’t recommend them highly enough – to anyone, not just intolerants. The meat content is over 90% and as you would expect they are naturally gluten and dairy free because junk cereal and milk protein have no place in a premium meat product.
I often wondered if they deliberately set out to make ‘free from’ food, or if this just happened naturally and they were smart enough to highlight this extra benefit on their packaging. I suspected it was the latter but thought I would find out anyway, particularly as The Black Farmer has launched some new products and at the same time is having some issues with Tesco. So I decided to start with him.
His packaging advertises the fact he is on Facebook and Twitter, so I decided to start there and took a look at his website too. It is fascinating reading and I thought I would share it because his story is really inspiring and that is why I believe he should be regarded as something of a ‘free from’ food hero.
The Black Farmer is Wilfred Emmanuel- Jones and he is a fabulous example of ‘poor boy’ done good. Wilfred was born in Jamaica and came to the UK with his family in the 1950s. His family settled in Birmingham but Wilfred always dreamed that one day he would start a new life in the British countryside.
His early working years were spent in television production and he is credited with bringing many top chefs to the small screen including Gordon Ramsay and James Martin. After that he went onto establish a food and drink marketing company in London and then twelve years ago, Wilfred bought a rundown farm in Devon and set out to realise his original dream – to become a farmer.
Wilfred worked very hard to restore the farm and become established within the local community, learning a great deal about animal husbandry from his farming neighbours. Wilfred is something of a rarity, as rural Devon is more famed for its cattle than its Afro Caribbean links, and Wilfred consequently became known locally as ‘The Black Farmer’.
When the brand was first launched, he sold his sausages at country shows and asked people to contact their supermarkets and ask them to stock them. He met with some success as Asda in the South West were the first stores to stock his products. He now has quite a good presence in most chains.
Wilfred does not suffer from Coeliac disease but does have an intolerance to wheat. He had recognised that there was a very great need for good tasting, high quality sausages which are naturally gluten free and could be enjoyed by all.
In recent times Wilfred has been working at expanding his range of products and is now also producing chicken, burgers, bacon, meatballs and cheese. All of these products are currently available on Ocado and ultimately he would like them to be more widely available. So if you like them as much as me, we should all contact our local supermarkets and make sure they know just how much we want and need products like these.
Wilfred believes, and I agree, that people need good tasting, well priced gluten free food. When he started making his sausages he went straight into making gluten free foods, as he felt so strongly that he could produce exceptional tasting foods that are different from any others in the marketplace, yet suitable for all.
At the moment his biggest challenges remain getting good distribution and you may experience some difficulties sourcing the products depending on your local supermarket. So here is a list of where you can buy his products. And don’t forget to follow Wilfred on twitter and facebook, he is a charming and very good man with an interesting life. He has replied to me directly and personally on several occasions and could not be more helpful or friendly and that is very rare for someone as busy and successful as him.
Flavours without Frontiers – is the promise offered by his products and from what I can see this also sums up his personality. Wilfred has strong opinions on a variety of issues, such as rural affairs, justice for small producers and youth opportunities. He is never confined by race, convention or tradition and in 2005 launched a rural scholarship scheme giving young inner city people the chance to experience life and work in a rural community – and this scheme is run annually in conjunction with the Royal College of Agriculture at Cirencester.
Discovering The Black Farmer products has been a revelation for us, as we love good quality food and we need good tasting gluten free food. Getting to know more about Wilfred has been even more of a revelation. It is so nice to know that there are good people out there looking to make more than just a profit, he is looking to make a difference and it looks like he has already met with a good deal of success and I am sure he will continue to do so.