Depending on the season, we use lamb from Zeeland Flanders, the Pyrenees or Lozère. Some time ago, I went to see a breeder in Lozère. Visiting farmers or producers is always a special experience but this time we took it one step further... My father and I were invited to help drive the Lozère lambs as part of la transhumance: the sheep are led into the mountains for the summer season where they can graze freely and roam around in the natural surroundings of Mont Lozère.
The animals spend the entire summer in the Cévennes National Park because the temperatures there are much cooler. The local fauna and flora are also completely different from those in the valley. As a result, the sheep eat a variety of plants and herbs, resulting in the most stunning cheese and tasty meat, from happy animals. Which really does make a difference.Although I knew all this, I still found it a unique experience to witness this journey first-hand.
At 5am, we started out, together with the inhabitants of the village, to drive the flocks of two farmers into the mountains – a trek of about 20 kilometres. It’s incredible to see how the whole community comes out to accompany this flock of about 2,700 sheep. A tradition that almost feels like a pilgrimage. We received a warm welcome in every village we passed through and people gave us food and drink for the road. I did notice something, however: the further we went, the quieter the sheep and the drivers became...
And suddenly I realised what was happening, and I was overcome by emotion and I had goose bumps in the blazing sunshine. We live in a world where speed is everything. The meat industry is no different: animals must yield the highest possible profit in the shortest possible time. But there I saw how you can do things differently. These farmers were backed by the entire community.
And I? I had the privilege of being part of this fantastic tradition and they even rolled out the red carpet for me because I, a Belgian butcher, sell their lamb with all my heart and soul. I help them earn a living, and this allows them to care for their sheep in the way they do. And vice versa: they ensure that I can sell meat in my shop that I fully endorse and am rightfully proud of. It makes me feel all the more humble: I’m just one tiny link in a very long chain where everyone relies on everyone else.
Craftsmanship, the land, passion... That’s what it’s all about!”