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showcase Organic meats get the vote for flavour and texture

When Ivan Mansell started his butchery apprenticeship in 1999, he didn't imagine he'd end up owning the same store 12 years later after a couple of sorties working in different fields.

Ivan celebrated three

years at the helm of Clarks Organic Meat Specialists in Glen Eden's West Coast Road last month, and now he's full-on working to help his customers celebrate

and the holiday season with those top-of-the- pop

festive turkey and ham.

Ivan Mansell: the organic route isn’t just trendy.

"They've always been the traditional big sellers at this time of

year and orders are tracking well," he says. And in the case of all of Ivan's products, they're organic or free range – including duck, wild rabbit, quail, poussin, pheasant, wild venison and wild boar. Going the organic route isn't just a trendy thing for him to do. Ivan says he has a strong belief in organic farming. "I didn't seek out an organic butchery. It just happened that when I started here as the clean-up boy learning the trade, it was an organic operation. Over the years working in the industry and gaining knowledge

about the animals and how they're treated, I'm totally committed to the organic or free range way," he says. It's about offering the best product range possible to his customers

and giving them the best service, says Ivan, and it's not just about fancy, unusual cuts of meat.

"Our best sellers are our homemade sausages in 17 flavours. They're all gluten and dairy free, made with organic or free range meats. Our customers have a strong focus on chicken and beef mince too and in the past year we've been doing our own bacon and ham range and that's really well received."

Christmas foods,

While many complain that organic food is an expensive way to go, Ivan says that may have been so years ago but isn't the case any longer. "Yes, there's increased cost in growing the animals, you get fewer head of cattle or lambs per acre, the farm needs to be certified and might need certified organic feed, but the price is comparable to conventional types of meat.

"There's only a couple of dollars difference in our top grade products and a comparable quality in a supermarket or conventional butchery." What isn't comparable between organic and conventional products is the taste. "The flavour and texture are definitely noticeable. Much, much better," says Ivan. And talking of taste, what will Ivan be having on his Christmas table? "I use a simple recipe on my smoked ham. I'll glaze it with spiced apricots, sliced orange and cloves, finishing it off in the oven, warming it all the way through, 15 minutes per 500 grams at 160 degrees. In about two-and-a-half to three hours it will be delicious. That's the way to go."

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