Wow. Wales is a place I never thought would be so wonderful, so pretty, so green and so…inviting! It’s not on most American’s radar, the place just doesn’t pop up on most traveler’s ‘places to go’ lists. But now that I’ve spent time driving the length of the place and meeting so many Welsh people, I’ve gotta say, boy I was missing something here.
The movement here to promote eco-friendly food production is also laudable. At the big Rhug Farm Estate, they enlist everyone in the nearby village to bring all of their compost and they spread it all over their crops. They have a completely closed loop–growing all of the grains to feed the animals, handling the slaughtering and packaging in house, selling much of it in their own retail market (and to high end restaurants in London and farther afield in Asia) and doing it all in sustainable, organic methods.
Lord Robert Newborough showed us the new building that will house the market. Geothermal heating, lots of passive solar in a state of the art green building. We visited another facility here in Wales where farmers are encouraged to utilize waste products to create new products. Turning excess milk into cheese, ice cream and yogurt, or taking the cast off spent fruit residue to create another product. It’s all designed to extend the value of everything created, and to end up with more jobs and broader markets for farmers and food producers.
Then we met Gil Reacord, a fishmonger in the seaside village of Aberdovey, who was once a chef. But eight years ago she got into the fish business and she told us she wished she had done it sooner. “This is just what I want be doing.” She promotes underutilized species of fish, like the mullet that tastes a lot like the sea bass. She also promotes using by catch, fish and other creatures caught in lobster traps that are often tossed back dead, but can be used and sold in the market.
We watched her deftly prepare a large brown crab and a lobster, using the tomalley which most Americans throw away with a sneer. “You throw that away?” she said with a startle. “That’s the best part!”