Pork cut earns top food award

PRIME PORK: Lauren Mathers has been awarded an Australian Food Award.

PRIME PORK: Lauren Mathers has been awarded an Australian Food Award.

A FREE-RANGE pork rack has earned a Barham producer a prestigious national award for the best organic food product.

Bundarra Berkshires was bestowed the trophy for the Champion Australian Organic Product in the Australian Food Awards.

Lauren Mathers and her husband, Lachlan, have been producing pork for six years and have owned previous virgin farm land adjacent to the Koondrook State Forest for the past three years.

The couple's Berkshire pigs are reared in a number of paddocks with shelter pens. No chemicals are used on the farm, 10 kilometres south-east of the town, and the stock are vaccinated annually.

Mrs Mathers' entry into pig production came via her former ownership of Koondrook cafe, The Long Paddock, when she confronted obstacles sourcing quality free-range pork.

"I was looking for free-range and I saw an opportunity to build it up," she said.

"It was my baby, but Lachy has brought in and here we are.

"It is exciting to receive the award because we can communicate that to our customers."

Mrs Mathers relinquished her cafe role when she was pregnant with her first child and has fully embraced pig production, using the rare British Berkshire breed.

Bundarra Berkshires sells weekly into the Melbourne and Sydney markets and is involved in a number of regular farmers' markets, where patrons are given guidance in the best way to cook the pork.

The business employs an on-site butcher, providing fresh sales weekly to two butchers, including sales of smallgoods and bacon.

The Australian Food Awards entry was presented uncooked, then cooked under Mrs Mathers' instructions.

It was judged on tenderness, flavour, appearance, juiciness and texture.

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