Food & Drink, News

The rugby legend turned MasterChef on a mission to make the food industry fairer for farmers

He might be best known for his time on the pitch but twelve years after hanging up his boots, former England captain and Celebrity MasterChef winner Phil Vickery is going back to his countryside roots, teaming up with ethical online food retailer 44 Foods to push for a fairer food industry.

Having grown up on his family’s dairy farm in North Cornwall, farming is in his blood. In fact, before embarking on a professional sporting career, rugby star Phil’s childhood ambition was to have ‘the best dairy herd in the South West’. It’s this dedication to raising and nurturing quality ingredients that is the driving force behind this new partnership.

But more than that, Phil believes that farmers and producers should be paid fairly and that as we as consumers, should all be more aware of where our food comes from. Ultimately, as Phil explains, we need to understand that behind each ingredient is a person putting in hours, days and even months of hard work.

“Growing up on my family farm had a profound effect on me in lots of ways. Being a farmer’s son, I saw that relentless, never give up spirit, and my dad being constantly on the go, constantly looking to improve so that he could produce the very best quality ingredients. That’s something that had a huge impact on all aspects of my life, including my sporting career.” Phil says.

“We’ve all become so used to throwing ingredients in the supermarket trolley without much thought for the work that’s gone on behind the scenes to get it there. Farming is incredibly hard work, and it’s important that people have a better understanding of the commitment and the time that it takes to produce our food.

“We need to realise that food should never be a cheap, throwaway commodity. Coming from a farming family, I know better than most that farmers just want to feel valued and appreciated and a big part of that is being paid fairly.”

Working directly with producers and farmers up and down the UK, including in Phil’s native Cornwall, 44 Foods acts like a local farm shop on a national scale, giving customers the option to shop fresh, seasonal, ethical produce, direct from the farm to their doorstep. Best of all, producers set their own prices meaning that everything sold through the site is priced at a level that accurately reflects the real costs of production.

“That’s why i’m so excited to be working with the 44 Foods team, because they understand that growing top quality food takes time and effort and because they are committed to making sure that producers are not only treated fairly, but paid fairly too.”

Hannah Anderson, Managing Director of 44 Foods says “From his farming background to his time on Celebrity MasterChef, Phil’s passion for good quality, ethically produced food is so clear, we just knew that he’d be a great fit for 44 Foods.

“Phil is just as committed to fixing our broken food industry as we are and we’re delighted to be partnering with him to make things fairer for producers up and down the country.”

As part of the partnership, Phil has launched a range of bundles, based around his winning MasterChef menu. Customers will be able to choose from Phil’s starter of scallops, black pudding and streaky bacon, lamb loin main or the chocolate and orange bread and butter pudding that got more than a famous ‘WOW!’ from judge Greg Wallace.

The bundles will bring together all of the ingredients you need for each course, sourced from 44 Foods partners across the UK. Bundles will launch on Monday 4th April with prices starting at £17.

For more information on Phil’s partnership or to see the full 44 Foods range, visit www.44foods.com

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