Biltong and happiness

I recently had great pleasure in doing a quick environmental assessment for the Gloucester Biltong company. Whilst there, they let me try some of their biltong and as well tasting great, it had a very succulent texture which distinguishes it from a lot of other, very dry, biltong that that I’ve tasted. Before I go on about the happiness connection, I would recommend considering some right now: Gloucester Biltong

I’ve written before about the connection between happiness, wellbeing and environmental protection. Making sure that environmental issues are addressed sustainably is really important for all our wellbeing. Here’s a few things I found out during my assessment.

It is no surprise that the biggest energy consumers on the premises are the meat dryers. It was good to hear that the company had already managed to reduce energy consumption (and hence CO2 emissions) by 30% by fitting tighter temperature controls on the dryers. As a result of the assessment they are actively exploring even more reductions by trialling new heater elements which use less power but deliver the same heat.

Gloucester Biltong source their meat from local farmers which rear cattle to recognised farming assurance standards. For example, one particular client’s standard required whole life, antibiotic-free cattle. Another standard that suppliers adhere to is Red Tractor Assurance which requires high level of animal welfare.

I looked into these standards a little more for a couple of reasons. Reason one, is that UK farming accounts for 50 million tonnes of greenhouse gases, the bulk of which come from methane emissions (from livestock) and nitrous oxide (from fertiliser). Reason two is that the UK’s food security stands at 77% . Part of the reason it is not 100% is due to environmental damage. So I was interested to find out what those standards required to tackle these issues.

Both standards require very high levels of animal welfare which is good. However only the Red Tractor Assurance scheme begins to address environmental protection. It covers biosecurity and ensures that pollutants don’t get into the environment. Fertiliser is covered but only in the sense of reducing nitrate pollution to water and not about nitrous oxide (a greenhouse gas) emissions to air. Neither standard specifically addresses greenhouse gases which is a huge missed opportunity.

I can only hope that the government’s “Clean Growth Strategy” influences the farming assurance standards beyond animal welfare. In the meantime Gloucester Biltong will continue to make its own CO2 reductions and continue make great biltong and make their customers happy.

Thanks for reading this blog.  Here’s some other resources you may be interested in.  Individuals – measure you own happiness with 3 simple questions: HappyNow Project  Organisations – get in touch for environmental management for profit: Contact

(1) Measuring happiness – see
(2) I’m conscious there is a campaign to reduce meat eating in order to reduce carbon emissions. However, even tight environmental standards like Soil Association for organic foods recognise the benefits of rearing animals for good soil preservation. At the moment consensus seems to be eat less meat, but better provenance.
(3) Economist Intelligence Unit – Food Security Index

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