British lamb project out to educate
More than nine out of 10 people (93%) have no idea of the best time of year to eat British lamb, according to a survey.
Only 7% of those asked correctly identified autumn as the best time to tuck in, with about half (49%) believing spring is the best time to serve it - the time of year when most lambs are born.
The findings were part of a National Trust project online called MyFarm which is based at its 1,200-acre organic farm at Wimpole in Cambridgeshire and aims to involve people in farming as well as educating them about where their food comes from.
An online straw poll of the MyFarm community revealed 19% knew the best time of year to enjoy lamb. This is more than double the outcome of the wider survey, which suggests that the experiment is making progress at educating people about farming.
Richard Morris, the National Trust's farm manager at Wimpole Home Farm, said: "Eating lamb when it's in season ensures consumers can enjoy the meat at its best.
"Lambs born in the spring feed outside on grass throughout the summer resulting in really flavoursome and tender meat. The lamb we see on our supermarket shelves in the spring is either shipped in from abroad or has been barn-reared out of season without the benefit of maturing and developing naturally on grass."
The survey also revealed 40% of Britons buy British lamb, with 21% admitting that they opt for New Zealand lamb and a further 16% just picking up whatever is available at the supermarket.Those living in Greater London (51%) purchase significantly more British lamb than people living in Wales (22%).
Other results of the survey highlighted consumer confusion over hogget, a mature lamb between one and two years old. Only 16% of people were aware that hogget was even meat from a sheep.
Some 21% of people in Wales and 21% of people in Northern Ireland correctly identified what hogget was, compared to just 12% from the North East and North West.
By contrast, 51% of MyFarm subscribers could identify hogget - three times as many as the wider survey - and 63% brought British lamb. Mr Morris added: "These results demonstrate how the MyFarm experiment is already proving beneficial in raising farming knowledge among members."